Dear David: Largest writer is my biggest problem

Home Columns Dear David: Largest writer is my biggest problem

May 9/16, 2016; Volume 30, Number 23

By David Romano

Dear David:

I have a sales associate who is such a great producer but the rest of the team cannot stand her. She is not a team player, does not pitch in with helping any of my new hires, comes and goes as she pleases and doesn’t follow company policy. The rest of my staff keeps telling me it is not fair what she gets away with, and I have lost a few good sales associates because of this person. Part of me says it is time to let her go and another part tells me I cannot afford to let her go because she sells more than anyone else I have on my sales floor. What should I do?


Dear Torn Owner,

One of the biggest killers of morale in a company is infighting and prima donnas. And when morale is low, sales tend to track on the same slope. Although you are afraid to let go of her because of the sales she generates, you need to look at the total sales lost from the remainder of your sales team. What you stand to lose in volume from her direct sales may be easily gained back with a slight increase in performance of each of the remaining members of your team once the morale killer is removed.

Having said that, I am really concerned with what you term a “great producer.” If you are gauging that on sales alone, you are being shortsighted. In order to truly measure individual sales production, you have to look at three things: the number of opportunities one has to sell (traffic), how many people like them or your products enough to buy (close rate) and how much of your goods they purchase (average ticket).

Let me show you what I mean with these two scenarios:

A.Samantha sells $1,000,000 per year (which is more than anyone else on the sales floor). Her close rate is 30% and her average transaction is $2,000

B.Mia sells $600,000 per year (the average of your entire sales team). Her close rate is 40% and her average ticket is $2,500

If we look at just sales volume, we would say that it is obvious Samantha is the most productive. In terms of profit dollars, Samantha would win that contest as well because she produces $60,000 more than Mia. It really is that simple, right? Not so fast. Here is the real issue when looking at the combination of traffic, close rates and average tickets:

A.Every time Samantha talks to a customer that conversation generates $750 in sales. She ate through 1,333 sets of new customers to generate $1,000,000 in sales.

B.Every time Mia talks to a customer that conversation generates $1,200 in sales. She worked with 500 sets of new customers to generate $600,000 in sales

Having Samantha on your sales floor is actually hurting you. If Mia was able to get a hold of Samantha’s 1,333 customers (with her 40% close rate and $3,000 average ticket) she would have sold $1,600,000. In reality, Samantha’s performance is costing you $600,000.

The numbers should be enough to make the right decision, but just in case you are still leery of letting go of a million-dollar writer let’s consider the overall culture of the company. The third biggest motivating factor to happy, productive sales associates is sense of belonging. If a handful of your sales team feel that the special treatment given to a prima donna is unwarranted and unjust, they will run for the hills every time because they feel like they don’t belong to that type of organization. So not only do you have to factor in the lost sales but you also need to look at your cost of turnover. And we all know how difficult it is to find good sales associates in today’s market.

My suggestion is to write her a sparkling letter of recommendation so she can get a job with your biggest competitor and become the lead member of their sales prevention team.

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