The figure in your spreadsheet doesn’t lie: 13%. Your best salesperson accounts for about an eight of your sales, but you still have major doubts. His beliefs don’t fit in properly with your new business strategy, and even after lots of meetings, training and supervision, he’s still holding firm to his convictions.
He is still the technical salesperson who speaks most to your clients about how good your products are, but he doesn’t really listen, and is always boasting about his experience and skill. He still believes that selling to technical teams who can then defend their choices internally is the way forward. He doesn’t really help you think about the business as a whole or work out concrete ways your products can help clients move forward with their business strategy. But he’s still the best salesperson when it comes to sales and margins.
One of our clients struggled with this dilemma a few years ago. They ultimately decided – hesitantly and fearing a negative impact – to end the collaboration. And sales didn’t fall by 13%; indeed they didn’t fall at all. It seemed the salesperson was actually an obstacle when it came to capitalizing on the sales growth within the sector. In fact his departure even had a positive effect on short-term sales, and now – a few years later – it’s left no negative trace whatsoever. That’s the relative worth of your best salesperson. Other employees have noticed a positive impact on the internal operation too.
This mainly illustrates the importance of permeating company values and beliefs throughout all your business activities, including the HR policy. Every employee is an ambassador for your strategy. If this isn’t the case, there’s no getting round the fact that you’re better off without them. This might be a very unpleasant thing to do, but it’s essential for your department or company future.