Rescuing the Non-Compliant Salesperson. A Trek in from the Wilderness

imgRescuing the Toxic Salesperson

1. Why the Problem Exists

In general, managers are often reluctant to challenge non-compliant employees.This is especially so when the employee is a relatively high performing salesperson.

For fear of losing the salesperson’s customers, the organization makes a Faustian bargain. Management “looks the other way” at the corporate culture indirections, to “insure” the sales person is happy and the company retains the business. By allowing 1 or more toxic salespeople to be “lone wolves”, all employees experience a diminished sense of corporate justice. This “exception” undermines compliance throughout the organization.

The salesperson continues the toxic behavior either unaware his/her impact or just not caring.

2. A Solution

Most companies want to “save” their higher performing employees. The starting point is perspective and attitude.

Consider this salesperson as someone lost in the wilderness, someone needing rescuing. If the employee has exhibited this behavior for some time, the company bears responsibility for enabling the behavior.

A “command and control” approach probably won’t be productive – although it might set up the termination. If more than a quick route to termination is sought, if the company wants to rescue the salesperson, there are at least four components to consider:

  1. A strong support and transformation plan, beginning with a gap analysis and a plan for filling the gap.
  2. A change leader skilled in transformation.
  3. Top management’s willingness to go “all in” and make future non-compliance a hanging offense. “We want you on the team, but you must be a team player.”
  4. A reason for the toxic salesperson to put skin in the game – to be motivated.

The change process includes mandatory participation in seminars and 1 to 1 coaching. The seminars show the “lost” the rest of the team is doing the program and having success. The one to one coaching spurs the change process.

3. A Success Story

With the above elements in place, the toxic salesperson predictably started by resisting the program, explaining how his market is unique. Over a period of months the shared team experience started to have an impact. The change process began after top management had a strong “heart to heart” talk. The salesperson then started to become compliant. Small successes were acknowledged in seminars every two weeks, leading to larger successes. The entire team reinforced the change process. The salesperson will need continual reinforcement for some time, but is on the right path.