Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Managing Sales Mavericks

Writen by Andrew Rowe

Managing the Sales Mavericks. All of us have experienced top performers on our sales team who consistently produce the highest sales numbers, but also produce the most disruption for our organizations. These people which I call mavericks, can have a huge impact on bottom line for your company, but they also can be a big drain on your organization. Often times, these mavericks won't follow the company's policies and procedures when it comes to sales process, selling methodology, reporting forecasting, using your CRM tools, etc. What do you do with these mavericks and how to you manage them to a better result?

There are certain companies that are willing to accept this kind of behavior and allow top sales people to run roughshod over their organization and essentially do whatever they want. The best companies, though, focus on working with top performers to align the rest of their performance and behavior with the company's culture and values and the company's specific sales process and procedures. It's the job of sales management to play to the strengths of each of their top sales performers to make sure that they continue to produce the results that are vital to the company's success.

At the same time, sales management also is responsible for making sure that those top mavericks are brought into alignment with the company's fundamental directives, as it relates to culture, behavior, following processes, reporting, etc. This is not an easy task for the sales manager and it's one of the reasons why they get paid the big bucks. Often times, the most talented sales people are the most roguish and the most arrogant when it comes to following the company's requirements. In particular, they tend to view themselves as superstars unto themselves as their own entity and not necessarily as a part of the team.

There are many things that can be done to break this habit of maverick behavior and bring these kinds of people into alignment. First of all, develop a corrective action plan that focuses on the person developing the soft skills. This can be done through the normal performance planning process. Second of all, sometimes it makes sense to assign a coach to an individual top producer; somebody that that individual respects; somebody who can mentor them and provide them with feedback in a way that they're able to accept. This can be done by somebody on your team or it can be done by bringing in an outside executive coach or sales coach. Often times, a third party sales consultant or sales coach is the best way to go. The next thing is working through issues of culture and behavior on a regular basis through agenda items at your sales meetings and your sales retreats.

This will help you to emphasize to your team at large how important the other aspects of the job are, in addition to just producing results. There are lots of great books out there that can be used as well to help "Sales Mavericks" understand what it is that a company is expecting from them. We'll give you examples in another blog post. So, if you have top sales mavericks who are also your top sales performers and you're looking for ways to reduce your frustration and improve their adherence to the company's policy and culture, you're not alone. All of us have faced this in sales management, and it's our job to make sure that we're clear with these individuals about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior and not be afraid to take corrective action up to and including termination if these people become too disruptive to the organization. Everybody is replaceable and even the top performers who believe that they walk on water should be replaced if in fact, they're not capable of adhering to what a company needs in order for them to be successful.

About Cube Management

Cube Management delivers sales acceleration services to emerging growth and mid-market companies. The experts at Cube Management work across the entire spectrum of marketing, sales and business development to provide customized solutions (whether recruiting, interim management or consulting) that drive revenue and profit growth. Cube Management combines Strategy, Process & People to produce winning results. Download the Cube Management Inside Sales Guide and the Cube Management Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Guide.

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