Dealing With Posers

Another application of Paretto Rule is that 80% of a manager’s time is squandered on posers that only bring in 20% of the deals. Why is this inevitably the case? Simple. Closers are self-motivated and will do whatever it takes to make sales. They don’t want your help and will not tolerate being micromanaged. They are not afraid to tell the manager just that.

The manager, in a mistaken belief that he should be doing something to get the bottom 80% on track, invests time, resources, and energy in what in the end is a futile thankless task. Posers for the most part will always be posers like ducks are ducks and cows are cows.

A few times it will pay off. He will find the diamond in the rough and “convert” him into a closer. In reality the manager probably had nothing to do with it. He just stumbled upon a closer before the closer had the chance to prove himself and earn his wings. This is the “Slot-machine” theory which states that the one-arm bandits must pay off often enough to keep the gambler gambling, and not enough so the chump comes out ahead. The house always wins!

It’s analogous to heroin addiction – keep them hooked but not dead. Dead junkies don’t buy dope.

Unfortunately, a sales team will end up with some closers, some absolute losers, and a bunch of mediocrities. Triage is the name of the game. A manager can systematically seek more closers, terminate the losers (a nicer term may be “individuals miscast as sales reps”), and invest only limited time in the mediocre reps. Some indeed may be salvageable. Most will not rise above where they are. In this case it’s simple economics – if the company is cash positive on their efforts they can stay. If they are tying up territories or accounts and not extracting the value you know to be there, you replace them with closers whenever you can.

Here are some pointers:

One Free Pass. If you hired them give them the benefit of the doubt. Train them well and offer them al the support you can, but only for a limited time that is made explicit from the start. As in “you have one month to get your first deal or you’re toast.”

Earn The Right. Only those reps that are totally committed to succeeding deserve and get any of your valuable time. If they miss days, work few hours, skip meetings, or don’t make the calls, then they are on their own (commission-only) or terminated (salary + commission).

Prima-Donnas. Only closers get to give you shit. Posers get slapped down hard if they try it.

Quarantine. If they are negative or back-talk you to your face, you can be sure they are ten times worse behind your back. In medieval days there was only one cure for the plague. Wait for the infected to die then haul the body off to be burned to stop the spread of the contagion. Since you can’t kill the rep, the next best thing is to terminate him immediately, taking time to communicate exactly why this was done as a lesson to the survivors.

Ditch-Diggers. In Caddy Shack, Ted Knight’s character Judge Smails says to a young caddy that can’t afford to go to college “well the world needs ditch diggers too” In fact it does. Hand the poser a shovel on his way out the door.