How to Deal With Negative Sales Reps

There are negative and disruptive sales reps that are not performing and have low numbers and then there are negative and disruptive sales reps that have good numbers that are actually hitting or exceeding quota.

Know the difference between the two. There are two ways to judge a sales person. The first one is their attitude. Do they have a can-do attitude? Are they growth minded? Do they want to learn? Are they a positive influence in the organization? And number two, are they hitting numbers? Are they hitting their quotas? Those are typically the only two qualities I look for when I am looking to listen to what a sales rep has to tell me.


They must be in core alignment.

Negative disruptive sales reps are not in core alignment with the company’s goals. They are not positive cheerleaders of change. They are not assisting the organization’s focus on what the goals are. Typically, they are hurting and distracting from it. They typically question what types of leads we have. They question the strategy, they question the pricing, the clients, the prospects, they question everything. “Well, why would we sell this way? Why would this be the price? I mean, so-and-so sells it for cheaper and they do a better job, etc.” They will always blame everyone else and complain about everything. The reason why they are blaming and complaining, is because they are missing their own numbers. God forbid this person ever actually take accountability or take stock for what they control, what they need to do. It is never their fault. So when somebody is negative, typically that leads to or stems from them not hitting numbers.

When somebody is missing numbers and they are negative, I don’t see a reason to keep them around. I would pull them into my office, sit them down and have a very frank and candid conversation. These conversations don’t start with me posing questions. Rather, these conversations usually start with me letting them know what I see and what I know to be true. And then from there I set my expectation of what I want. I’m having this conversation to find a level of alignment, and to reaffirm with them what the direction of the company is. I simply ask them: “Are you aligned with the goals and are they your goals as well? And then secondly. Can you adhere to these sort of subjective standards and have core values alignment, 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 that individual out of the organization.

A negative and disruptive sales rep in your team is hurting the rest of the organization. When the other individuals come to work and try to hit their goals, they’re trying to maintain a positive mental attitude. And yet, they’re sitting next to this other individual who is complaining about everything. It actually hurts them as well. Not only is this person missing their own goal, but they are actively, negatively impacting other people and preventing others from being able to hit their own goals, they’re preventing overall progress. So individuals who are negative and disruptive and are missing goals need to be dealt with immediately. When you pull this person into your office, and you ask them if they’re aligned with the company’s goals and they respond with a resounding “yes, absolutely! My mistake, I apologize. I am bought in, I am committed to hitting these goals”, then from there you put them on a performance improvement plan. You tell them “this is what needs to be true in the next 30, 60, 90 days, in order for you to maintain your employment here, you need to have core values alignment. You need to be a positive team member and you need to start hitting these KPIs, these goals, and these are the numbers”. That’s how you deal with that individual.


What do you do with a disruptive sales rep who is hitting their numbers?

So you have an individual who is disenfranchised with the sales team culture, they are potentially not bought in, they are not enjoying being around other individuals, but they are hitting their numbers and they are hitting their quotas. The first thing I always look at is: how can somebody hate their job but still be good at it? Then I look to see if their quotas are too low? Are they getting great leads? Should they be selling more? If the answer to that is no, then from there I’d want to sit down with this person and have a conversation with them. People who are hitting their goals are the individuals I want to hear from. Those are the people that I want to speak to and say, “hey, what’s going on? You are a valuable member of this team, but your attitude has not been what we need it to be.” And I want to hear this person’s opinion. I want to know what I can do to put this person in their best self? When somebody has good numbers and is hitting their metrics, that is an individual I want to invest in. That is somebody I want to work with. Because I want to figure out if this person is in a bad place in their life? Is there a misunderstanding which is causing them to work in a particular way? Or maybe they just have a coworker who constantly puts them in a bad mood, who constantly gasses them up or puts negative thoughts in their head. And this could be intentional or unintentional. This could be somebody who is like the first individual, just a negative drain and a cancer on the organization and is operating in that way. Or it could be somebody who just simply is bothering this person and they really dislike working with them.

It is important to get to the root cause, because if you do not figure out why this person is dissatisfied or is acting negatively, it is only a countdown to when they start missing their goals and you lose this individual. A sales rep that is hitting their numbers and their quotas is not someone to be taken for granted or someone I want to lose. When you have somebody like that and you see them trending off the cliff, it is your responsibility as their leader to step in and correct the course.


Constantly missed quotas and consistent poor or negative attitudes set a bad precedent for everyone else in the organization. Missed quotas and negative attitudes are very contagious, like a sickness. Once one person has it, it can spread like crazy and even your top performers will start to take their foot off the pedal. It’s important that your team’s are filled with people who are positive, growth minded, and welcome the new challenges facing the organization.

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