Managing Difficult Sales people

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  by como

Sales Managers who are faced with the common dilemma described below are given the following advice by management training experts.

Suppose on your sales team you have on your a very talented sales person that you can’t do without. The problem is that as a result of their negative effect on other team members, they also represent a danger to the internal peace of your sales force. How would you manage this challenging sales management dilema?

The following list of nine characteristics are those often seen in the “difficult” salesperson. These behaviours result in someone who is likely to not get on with, and offend, their colleagues as well as being difficult for the sales manager to manage.

1. They have the distinct need to be perfect; pressurising themselves into being perfect and punctual.

2. They are usually exceptionally intelligent and tend to be extreme.

3. They are very good at fulfilling their responsibilities, strive to improve their performance and want to see themselves as someone exceptional.

4. They tend to solve problems on their own and do not like having to rely on others.

5. They have low self-esteem.

6. They seek out attention and praise.

7. They think self control is extremely important.

8. They are not very diplomatic.

9. They have poor social skills.

So, with a difficult salesperson like this what problems can arise? The following five issues were identified on a recent sales management training course:

1. They give the impression that they can contribute nothing of value to solving a problem.

2. If others do not accept their decisions and logic they often get angry.

3. They over-control and over-organise others. As a result, other salespeople often feel inferior.

4. They are quick to complain of unfair treatment if superiors try to put a stop to some of their activities.

5. They are not willing to compromise because they view this as a complete loss of control.

Sometimes, the difficult person is actually ourselves. You should check out your own behaviour too! Are you difficult to get on with? The more questions set out below that you answer with a ‘yes’, the more likely it is that your your colleagues and your team find you are the difficult person to work with.

Do you come across as condescending to employees?

Do you have to be in total charge of everything? Do you ask everyone to check everything they do with you first?

Do you need to discuss each and every point?

Do your discussions quickly turn into arguments?

Are you fast to attack others?

Are other people reluctant to discuss problems with you?

Do you de-value what others say?

Is it very important to you to acquire a position of power and status?

Do you avoid giving others the privileges you yourself enjoy?

Do other people see you as “cold” and “distanced”?

Do you want other people to like you?

Do you let some sales people believe that they are more competent than others?

Do you like speaking about yourself and what you are doing?

Do you use the word “I” often when talking to others?

If you have a difficult salesperson then the following will give some advice on the best way to deal with them:

Do provoke regular discussions with them. Without pronouncing any judgement, tell them about your observations. Ask them how they believe their behaviour affects others.

Do stress the fact that you whilst you appreciate the standard of their work, they must be careful if they want to advance their career in selling.

Don’t allow yourself to be irritated by them.

If they challenge you, do not counter attack. Explain that you are not interested in arguing with them. In no uncertain terms tell them the extent to which they have misinterpreted a given situation.

Do point out how their actions are destroying their career prospects.

Do give them feedback on any progress.

Tell them that you are not satisfied and explain why if they do not react to your efforts.

Managing people, particularly sales people, can be challenging. The skills and confidence to tackle your difficult people in an appropriate way to get the best out of them can be aquired from attending management training courses.

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Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management training programmes aimed at improving business performance.