Willful Ignorance

It has been said that a lie told often enough becomes the truth.  In sales, it is easy to ignore how you are making your numbers if you are accomplishing your goal. For example, often, if a sales manager is meeting the revenue target, they keep doing what they are doing and walking in a bubble that could burst at any moment – this is why….

Perhaps you have a rainmaker on your team; someone who is overachieving and bringing in a lot of accounts and making big deals.  This person believes that they are the best that the company has and walk over everyone else to keep achieving personal success.  While that may be working for the time being, you need to consider what would happen if that rep walked out the door tomorrow or if they lost that one big account.

What’s happening is that because all is well, you have no concerns.  The problem is that if one little thing goes wrong things could go downhill for the company in a split second.


Carrying the Load

To combat this sales lie, without being willfully ignorant, you need to learn how to carry the load. So, if you have a team of five people, each team member should have an equal load to carry (or close to equal). Why? Well think about it this way, if you have one of five sales reps achieving above the target and the rest are below, you will be in trouble if that rep decides to leave.

You need to break down the numbers so that you know where the business is coming from and who or what is driving the business.  Is there one large account that allows you to meet the revenue goal?  Is it a series of accounts that one rep has or is it spread out across the team?

Collect the data and assess the potential dangers.  If one entity carries the load for the team or if there is one account that supports the mass of the revenue, what would be the consequences of losing the rep or the account?

It is important to build the sales team so that everyone is successful and you do not have all of your eggs in one basket.  That is why it is important to know where the business is coming from and who on the team is responsible for the business.


Time for Change

Consider what would happen if the company were to lose the biggest account that you have.  What would the consequences be and how can you plan to avoid the most negative consequences if something like that were to happen?  With that in mind, think about how the numbers can be improved while you work on reducing the long term risk if something bad were to happen.

Take a look at the team and decide which reps are high performers, middle of the road performers, and low performers.  Do what you need to from there to try and get all reps performing at the same level.

Next, do what you need to do to bring your middle of the road performers up and increase their productivity. But keep in mind, your low performers also need to be dealt with. In other words, they need to be brought up to level or let go.



Lastly, when confronting the sales lie of the rainmaker, it’s important to rebuild areas that need fixing.  When you work to fix the issues you are spreading the risk so that if one thing goes wrong it will not create a disaster.  When you build a strong team, you should be able to overcome a temporary setback such as the loss of a rep or an account.

There are various things you can do to minimize the impact of a negative situation.  For example, add a specialty product division and add verticals to spread the risk.  Try and add some larger accounts so that if you lose a big account the impact will not be felt as hard.  You want to be in a position that if you lose a high achieving rep or a big account, you still have options for growing the company and will be able to recover from the loss.

You want to strengthen areas that you already have and also add more opportunities.  You do not want to be in a position where you have a single person driving business or a single account providing the total revenue.

It can be difficult to manage a rainmaker but it is a necessary evil.  If you have to, isolate them and let them do what they need to in order to maintain their own success.  Meanwhile, support them but also work with the rest of the team so that your middle achievers become high achievers and you will no longer have a rainmaker.  Support the low achievers to bring them up or cut your losses and higher those who can achieve better success with your company.  In the end, building a strong team means that you minimize risk as the revenue will be spread out among the reps and various accounts.

Though things may look good when you have an overzealous rep who is an extremely high achiever, they may not carry you for the length of your career.  Consider the consequence you and the team would suffer if they left and decide if it is worth it – over the long run it is not.  You would not want to have to deal with that kind of disaster.

Even if you believe that all is well, step back and see if it really is.

Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at jshea@alignment-group.com.  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

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