By Tom Searcy, Author and owner of Hunt Big Sales

Dear CEOs, business owners, and executives who manage sales people,

I’ll warn you now, you are not going to like this list. To be transparent, I don’t like it. I made this list based upon the thousands of sales reps I have met, the four companies I have run who have had explosive growth and the 200+ companies with whom I have worked directly. It is real and it is a bit unpleasant. It is full of selfish, “non-team-player,” and rather aggressive behaviors. But when I look at the real quota-crushing pros, this is often how they act.

Don’t worry, as your blood starts to boil, I’ll give you some ideas on how to maximize these pros and still keep your company’s culture intact.

  1. They have no time for anything that is not their deal. They are laser-focused on what it takes to get their sale done. This often means excluding things like company meetings, technical training, administrative work, and so on.
  2. They sell inside the company harder than outside. Pros know that getting the deal sold and getting the support of the company requires their personal attention. This means cajoling, hounding, persuading, and a lot of other verbs that mean pushing hard to get the organization to agree to the deal and support it.
  3. They’re chameleons. Charming one minute, in-your-face the next, pros will use all emotional tools to win. Often they save the charm for the prospects and clients and the venom for your company.
  4. They’re fierce client champions. What makes them great for their clients can make your company crazy. They almost always take the client’s side during the natural friction moments that occur when companies work together. And they fight hard.
  5. They understand their customers’ market better than their customers do. The best players in sales are experts on their clients’ businesses. They speak their language, know the market issues, understand their clients’ competitors — they’re even savvy on recent regulation. They are experts.
  6. They seek and trade information like the KGB. She who has the most information most often wins. That means that pros are tapping their networks and building new informants all of the time. To the untrained ear, it sounds like gossip. To pros, they call it “intel.”
  7. They’re never satisfied…ever. These people are always dissatisfied — dissatisfied with operational performance, technology capability, personal financial rewards, the respect they receive, their own performance… This characteristic is wearing, but it is part of what makes them pros. They are insatiable. That’s why they keep selling, pushing, and winning.

By the way, I ran this list by five quota-crushing sales pros who I know. Every one of them said, “Yeah, that’s me. I’m kind of proud of these characteristics if I were to be honest.”

What to do?

  1. Get used to it. I have frequent conversations with CEOs who complain about these behaviors and want to get rid of this type of sales person… except for one little problem — this person is the best. My answer is always, “This is what the quota-crushing pros are like, so get used to it.”
  2. Devote the time. They are going to take your time, period. So anticipate it. They will have more complaints, more opportunities, and more information. If they are good outside, they will be good inside at getting access.
  3. Stand firm. Leopards don’t change spots and scorpions can’t help but sting. With these pros, you’re going to have friction. Where you can concede, do. Where you can’t, don’t persuade or educate, (it won’t work), just stand firm.
  4. Focus on what works. Sales people do what works. When you are implementing new strategies, processes or technologies the only thing a pro will want to know is, “How will this make the life of a client better and make it easier for us to sell them?” A lot of policies and procedures are about making your operations better. Sales people don’t care. If your policy doesn’t address the above question, don’t expect a sales pro to give it a second thought.

Being a quota-crushing sales pro is abnormal and dysfunctional. Normal and functional is by default defined as average. Most systems are built to favor the average, not the extraordinary. That is why your best pros rebel and chafe at your systems. If you want your quota-crushing pros to perform, you have to manage them differently. That’s okay, their numbers should merit the investment.