How to deal with negative sales reps

MISSED QUOTAS AND NEGATIVE ATTITUDES ARE VERY CONTAGIOUS, LIKE A SICKNESS. ONCE ONE PERSON HAS IT, IT CAN SPREAD LIKE CRAZY, EVEN TO YOUR TOP PERFORMERS.

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There are negative and disruptive sales reps that have low numbers. And then there are negative and disruptive sales reps that are hitting quotas. You need to know the difference.

So, how do you deal with negative sales reps? There are two types of negative sales reps; those underperforming and those still hitting their numbers. You do not need to keep underperforming and disruptive sales reps around. Still, you want to figure out what’s going on with your top performer and transition them from negative into a positive influence in the organization.

Learn more about harmful sales rep types, their impact on your sales team, and a direct way to deal with these individuals in your organization.

IMPACT ON YOUR SALES TEAM

sales team

Do not underestimate how disruptive employees negatively impact your organization, even in the world’s most top-performing sales teams. A negative and disruptive sales rep in your group is hurting the rest of the organization and team members.

How do you expect your sales representatives to come to work to hit their goals and maintain a positive mental attitude, sitting next to some individual who’s complaining about everything?

Negativity is toxic, and it will hurt a good employee even with a great attitude.

It doesn’t matter if they are sales managers, sales leaders, sales reps – any toxic team member will cause disruption somewhere.

Rose garden quotes

Negativity is toxic, and it will hurt a good employee even with a great attitude. It doesn’t matter if they are sales managers, sales leaders, sales reps – any toxic team member will cause disruption somewhere.

DO YOU HAVE A NEGATIVE SALES REPRESENTATIVE?

sales team sales leader success

There are only two ways to judge a salesperson.

  1. Their attitude
  2. Their selling capabilities

So, what is a negative sales representative? A negative and disruptive sales rep is not in core alignment with the organization’s goals. They’re not cheerleaders of change and do not focus on the organization’s goals.

When I sit down with individual sales reps to find out what is going on inside of my organization, I only want to know about these two things:

The first is their attitude.

Ask yourself:

  • Do they have a “can-do” attitude?
  • Are they growth-minded?
  • Do they want to learn?
  • Are they a positive influence inside of the sales organization?

The second is their selling capabilities.

Ask yourself:

  • Are they hitting their numbers?
  • Are they hitting their quotes?

Evaluating a negative salesperson on these two qualities will determine the type of negative sales rep I have and the next steps I will take.

TYPE 1: NEGATIVE SALES REP MISSING TARGET

A disruptive sales representative will blame everyone else and complain about everything.

They typically question the types of leads.

They will question the strategy, pricing, client, product…

they question everything.

Does this sound familiar?

  • “Well, why would we sell it this way?”
  • “Why at this price?”
  • “Our competitor sells it for cheaper.”
  • “They do a better job.”

They will always blame everyone else and complain about everything.

But let’s get real. The reason why they blame everybody else and complain is that they are underperforming.

God forbid this person ever actually takes some real accountability or takes some stock into what they can control, what they need to do.

It’s never their fault with this type of underperforming sales rep.

The critical thing to note with these disruptive individuals is that their negativity stems from not hitting their numbers.

That is unacceptable.

Next Steps

When somebody is missing numbers and negative, I don’t see a reason to keep them around.

STEP 1: FRANK AND CANDID CONVERSATION

Do not start these conversations by asking questions and clarifying their behavior and poor performance. They are just going to regurgitate their earlier complaints and expect you to warrant them.

Start the conversation with underperforming sales reps, letting them know what you know is true. And what you see.

And from there, I clarify expectations and set what I want to see from them.

Ask them:

  1. “Are you aligned with our sales goals and our companies goals? And, are they your goals as well?”
  2. “Can you adhere to the sorts of standards and have core value alignment?”
  3. “Can you be a positive influence on the sales team?”

If these two questions are not answered with a resounding YES, that means it’s time to transition this individual out of the organization.

Only one of the following responses are acceptable:

  • “Yes. Absolutely.”
  • “My mistake.”
  • “I apologize.”
  • “I’m bought in.”
  • “I’m committed to hitting these goals.”

STEP 2: PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT PLAN

You tell them exactly what needs to be true over an exact period of time; 30, 60, 90 days. And it is conditional for them to maintain their employment.

What you need to be true:

  • You need to have core values aligned.
  • You need to be a positive member of the sales team
  • Start hitting these KPIs and sale goals. (Be specific.)
  • These are your numbers.

Period.

No negotiating. If not, there is the door. This is how you deal with this individual.

Rose garden quotes

You tell them exactly what needs to be true over an exact period of time; 30, 60, 90 days. And it is conditional for them to maintain their employment.

TYPE 2: DISRUPTIVE SALES REP HITTING THEIR NUMBERS

sales leader speak with prospect and sales team

This individual sales rep is disenfranchised with the sales team culture; they’re potentially not bought in.

They do not enjoy being around other individuals, but they’re hitting their numbers, closing sales, and they’re hitting their quotas.

That is not a typical situation. Most disruptive individuals fall into the underperforming category.

I want to know, how can somebody hate their job, but still be good at it?

Are their quarters just too low?

Maybe it’s just a very low bar to clear, and they are bored?

Assuming that’s the case, that’s a quick fix.

However, let’s say that’s not what it is.

Next Steps

I want to hear from people who are hitting their goals, and you should too. These are the people you need to speak to and listen to.

When somebody has sales success, hitting their numbers and metrics, then that is an individual I want to invest in – and you should too.

Step 1: Candid conversation

Again, sit down with this person and have a very frank conversation.

Ask them:

  • “Hey, what’s going on? You’re a valued member of this team. But your attitude is not what we need it to be.”

STEP 2: ASK THEM WHAT THEY NEED TO BUY IN.

You need to figure out what’s going on with your top performers, what’s making them adverse and dissatisfied. Ask them how you can transition them into a positive influence in the organization.

Ask yourself:

  • Is this person in a difficult place in their life?
  • Is there a misunderstanding causing them to work in a particular way?
  • Or, maybe they have a co-worker who intentionally or unintentionally puts them in the wrong frame of mind?

If another employee puts negative thoughts in their head, deal with that employee first.

You now know how to deal with that type of individual.

Get to the root of the problem because it’s only a countdown when they start missing their goals, and you lose this individual.

If it is something else, you can reshuffle and restructure to finally get them bought in.

If you have somebody trending off a cliff, it is your responsibility as their sales leader to step in and correct the course.

A sales rep that’s hitting their numbers and their quota is not somebody to be taken for granted and not somebody I want to lose. Neither do you.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Missed quotas and consistently poor, negative attitudes set a terrible precedent for everyone in the organization.

They are very contagious, like a sickness. Once one person has it, it can spread like crazy, even to your top performers.

Your whole sales team might take their feet off the pedal.

The Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template categorically unroots current challenges with your sales leader – essentially threats to your revenue. Our Template also identifies imminent challenges specifically.

We systematically guide you through a rubric of grading your sales leader on all the critical components of success and then some.

Have your sales team filled with positive, growth-minded people and welcome new challenges that face the organization.

Rose Garden’s Sales Leader Evaluation Template
Systematically assess your sales leader against measurable sales leader traits and expectations. Ensure your organization’s growth.

About the author:

Ali Mirza is the Founder & CEO of Rose Garden, a national sales consulting organization, and featured in Forbes, Inc, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Business Rockstars, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ali is a highly sought-after public speaker presenting at multiple national conferences on innovative ways to accomplish transformational growth on your sales team.

Rose Garden provides unparalleled support and guidance to growth-minded founders via sales strategy differentiation, world-class sales culture creation, and exclusive playbooks, processes, and scripts to position them for limitless growth.

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