The Philie Group Blog

Salesman with jet-powered wings
Sales Renegades and the Impact to your Business
By Mike Philie

When you first meet them, they are charismatic, curious, and always ready to help. They excel at developing relationships and use them to leverage what they need to succeed. They can often view the rules of engagement as suggestions, or meant for someone else. And, they can often be the top sales producers in the company!

To their internal team, they can be short tempered, hard to reach, void of details, and considered a drop and run sales person. To the management team, they can be a blessing and a curse. They consistently beat their numbers and wake each day expecting to win. But they can also be disruptive and go around established procedures and production schedules to make things happen for their customers.

I once heard an owner say, “boy that so and so, he does a great job. He really knows how to push work through the shop.” That same rep was the one who went around everyone to meet the needs of his customer, regardless of the impact it had on the others. He was like a cyclone as he went through the shop.

The renegades don’t have time for the CRM, or the sales meetings. They are self-driven and want to succeed. And while some may have a sales process they follow, many of them are relationship based sales people, and are very good at it. Should you try to find more like them? This may be a reason to review how the CRM is being used and if the sales meetings are really effective.

If you’re the senior leader responsible for sales or for the overall business, how do you respond to individuals like this? Do you praise them because in spite of their faults, they are making things happen?

How you respond to this behavior can depend on whether they are being disruptive in their own little cloud. Or, are they considered a toxic employee that publicly badmouths anyone who doesn’t give them what they want.

As a leader, you have a responsibility both to that employee, and to the rest of the organization, for creating a safe environment for everyone.

There are many options available, none of which are easy. Your path will be influenced by the many individual factors within your organization. So, what’s the right answer?

  • Have that direct conversation with the employee, acknowledge their contributions but also spell out their disruptive behavior. Try to find out what’s causing that behavior — is it a trust issue, a performance issue, or is that just the way they’re wired? Do they even recognize that they are behaving in such a way that causes a disruption to the business? The best outcome is for this conversation to identify the root cause of the underlying behavior, find a way to correct it and move on from there.
  • Not having that direct conversation can send a message that this type of behavior is tolerated and it’s OK for others to do this as well. What happens when some of your other good people get fed up and leave?
  • Ignore the whole situation and hope that it just blows over?
  • Take a hard look at your workflow and the expectations for your staff. Is it easy for sales people to do business with your company? Do they have to push work through, or does the shop pull work through? Are there internal impediments or speed bumps, that can make your company difficult to work with? I sometimes call these “sales prevention departments.”

While you probably don’t have any individuals behaving in this manner in your business, you most likely have witnessed it elsewhere during your career. There are no straight-forward answers in addressing this, and your decisions will be based on the culture and team orientation of your business, as well as your own leadership style. How would you handle this situation? Please add your thoughts and comments below.

Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at mphilie@philiegroup.com.

Originally published in Printing Impressions

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