Your best-performing sales rep goes far above and beyond everyone else, always hits quotas, and always brings their best. If that’s a healthy sense of accomplishment and competition, great!
If not, you may need to consider if it’s time to fire your best-performing sales rep. The numbers aren’t worth a toxic sales culture that damages your organization from the inside, no matter how talented. If you allow toxic behavior from one employee, the rest will become disillusioned and unmotivated.
To Hire or Fire?
The main reason top-performing sales reps are kept around is because the company counts on that production. If firing the top performer means having to go through a long hiring process or bring on multiple people to make up the loss, it can seem like a bad decision.
An excellent rep, though valuable, isn’t an asset if they show a lack of respect for others. Whether peers or management, a toxic personality will cost more in the long run when the rest of the team loses motivation or you can’t attract new talent due to toxic culture.
Hidden Cost of Toxic Employees
A leader’s job is to safeguard the positive attitude of the team. If a best-performing rep jeopardizes that, no matter the numbers, it can have a detrimental impact on the rest of your team.
Sales is built on healthy competition. The reps have daily, weekly, and quarterly quotas to challenge themselves and their peers. If one employee isn’t respecting the process or their teammates, however, it can cause the rest of your team to disengage. Worse yet, they may resort to the same attitude and tactics, spreading the toxic culture.
Sales teams are stronger as a whole than individually. The best-selling employee may have lost sight of that. It’s important to encourage collaboration among your employees and share new knowledge and strategies to help everyone succeed.
The biggest cost of a toxic employee is turnover. When an employee leaves, it costs money to hire and train another, not to mention the lost productivity in the meantime. While this is also true of firing the best performer, it’s better to cut your losses and find someone new instead of wasting time and money with a toxic employee driving good employees away.
Signs of a Toxic Performer
They Aren’t Coachable
Your best-performing rep is probably confident, if not arrogant, and with good reason. But everyone has room for improvement and learning. If your top performer is uncoachable, defensive in feedback situations, or always making excuses to avoid personal accountability, this toxic personality will erode your company culture.
If internal coaching isn’t working, consider getting a sales coach to assess the situation. It’s possible that an outside influence could have a positive effect on your top employee. If the situation doesn’t improve, however, it may be time to cut ties.
They Don’t Attend Meetings
A confident performer may not see the individual benefit they get from attending a meeting, or they may think the information doesn’t apply to them. But meetings are an important way to keep the lines of communication open and build a sense of camaraderie with the sales team, so it’s vital that everyone shows.
If your top performer hasn’t shown up for meetings, without cause, have a discuss about it. If nothing changes, you can try disciplinary measures to see if that encourages attendance, but simply being present isn’t enough. An employee needs to be engaged in meetings to benefit themselves and the group, so a top performer who’s only showing up but not participating isn’t helping your team.
They Don’t Stay within the Guidelines of the Organization
You’ve put time and effort into establishing your sales guidelines and ensuring that your team adheres to them. If your top performer is managing to make the sale, but using tactics that are outside of the guidelines, that’s a big problem.
If you determine that your best-performing sales rep isn’t staying within your organization’s guidelines, discuss it with them. This is an opportunity to reinforce the importance of the guidelines and why everyone – yes, even the best salesperson on the team – need to stick to them. Then, if the behavior continues, you can reevaluate firing the employee.
Promote a Positive Culture
As a leader, it’s your job to look beyond the numbers and performance and promote a positive attitude among your team. Even if your best employee outperforms everyone else by a longshot, it’s not worth the risk to the rest of your team or your company culture.