Attention Sales Leaders: When Do You De-Recruit Your Star Players?

If you’re a sales leader, you surely know how difficult it can be to recruit top-performing sales reps to your company.  It’s a supply-and-demand scenario: exceptional sales talent is rare, therefore everyone covets it.  The high value and chronic scarcity of great sales talent leads to constant recruiting, the wining-and-dining of sales stars in hopes they will bring their talents (and their books of business) over to your company.

While sales leaders have many responsibilities, one of the least discussed but most important is the management of egos. Professional salespersons tend to be a self-confident and highly independent lot. What’s more, they tend to be highly competitive. In managing egos, the sales leader needs to be clear about his or her expectations and exactly what the selling expectations are for sales rep and sales manager.

In many shops, there is great pride (and respect) that comes from being the number-one salesperson for the month, quarter or year. That competition is generally a good thing, but you do have to manage egos. Not everyone can be the number-one salesperson, which is tough when you have several outstanding ones.

As far as who is the best sales rep on the staff, competitive people ultimately realize that competition itself answers the question. When you accept a big-time sales position, you know the standards are going to be high. You know your colleagues on the staff are going to be ultra-talented and highly motivated. Unless you’re naïve or unless the leadership has set up an unfair system, you know why you’re the number two person and not the best.

The sales leader’s job is to recruit talented reps and then keep motivating them to become better and better salespersons.

So, how does a sales leader manage a team of big egos and teach them to be disciplined members of a team especially after wining and dining them during the courtship process?

“De-recruit” them.

From the minute they sign an agreement with you, it is time to start de-recruiting them.  But you do it in a way that keeps them confident and motivated.  Help your sales reps to “keep it real” and not get too high on their own supply.  Give them all the resources they need (and all the resources you promised while recruiting them) but make sure they know they are expected to produce and earn their own business.

De-recruit them but do it carefully.  It’s a fine line.  Your sales reps must produce and they must be accountable.  Top producers don’t mind high expectations, but if you de-recruit your new people too harshly, they’ll leave for one of the many other companies that would love to have them.