Salespeople, by nature, are a different breed. These are people who are willing to talk to dozens of people per day that they don’t know, to get rejected 90% of the time, and often not get paid well unless they deliver results. Often, great sales people just don’t fit the mold you’ve got in mind. Sales people usually come with some quirks. They are competitive and can rub each other the wrong way. They are financially driven and expect to earn more than others that get paid a stable salary. The best sales people often create “messes” that someone must clean up and it can drive leaders crazy. Some of my best salespeople struggled with being organized and staying focused. Not all great salespeople fall into these stereotypes I’m throwing out; but many do.
So why am I writing about this and how can it help you as a business leader? Because you may be trying to hire salespeople that look and act like your accounting team or your tech team. You may be frustrated because you can’t get your salespeople to behave. I’m not suggesting you allow top performers to be dysfunctional, toxic, counterculture to your core values or divas. I have fired even my best salespeople because they just couldn’t work within the team. However, I do want to push you to see great salespeople as a different breed of businessperson that sees the world in a unique way and often comes with some quirks and eccentricities. Even as digital business models increase, many businesses are still very dependent on salespeople to grow the revenue of the company. The balance is to decide what your non-negotiables are for a person to be part of your team; but then be more willing to work with these special teams players on the non-essentials. Learn to lead great salespeople without trying to control them. Salespeople need someone to guide them, to keep them from running off the cliff every time they get upset or have a new idea that hasn’t been thought through. They also need a leader that fans the flames of their strengths, that is okay with some non-fatal failures and even some complaints from others. We want salespeople to mature over time. We don’t want them to lose their edge, to “settle down” or to just fit in. Great salespeople need great leaders who are up to the challenges that come with them.
Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. ~ Proverbs 14:4 NLT