Mavericks on the Sales Force

I was speaking at PAC Park in Pittsburgh this week when an audience member asked what he could do about Mavericks.  Since this is a common issue and I haven’t previously addressed it here, I’ll do so today.

There are both upsides and downsides to having Mavericks on the sales force.  The upside is that they are usually your best salespeople.  The downside is that they can be disruptive, don’t follow the rules, and aren’t very accepting of being managed.

If you think of it in terms of a sports team, there are some well known bad boys, like Randy Moss, Ricky Williams and Terrell Owens in football.  Carl Everett and, to a degree, Barry Bonds are chronic examples in baseball.  You know what you’re getting with players like these in that if you can contain the trouble and put them into an organization that has a coaching staff that can set clear boundaries and punishment when necessary, you can expect some great performances.  Put the same players into a system where discipline is soft and the staff in place can’t deal with the distractions, and you’ll get lots of trouble and inconsistent performance.

It’s really the same way on the sales force.  If you have a strong management team, one that can handle the shenanigans and contain it, you can get some great performance out of a maverick.  I would want the maverick to know that as long as he performs and behaves he can do his thing.  As soon as the performance fails to meet the expectations, he’ll have to fall into line like everyone else.  I would also want to make sure that he isn’t around the office when the other salespeople are there.  I wouldn’t want him at meetings or group events.  Keep him out of situations where he can create trouble.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a management team in place that can handle a challenge like this and you’re soft on rules and discipline, a maverick on your sales force is a mistake.