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How To Deal With A Bad Salesperson on Your Payroll

Do you remember the MTV awards last year? On what was a particularly well crafted evening of entertainment with a good mix of humor, tears and celebration came the truck driver persona of Elinor Burkett .

It wasn’t her moment but she shoved her way onto the stage, interrupting and speaking over director Roger Williams while accepting his award for directing  “Music by Prudence.”  She was determined to make herself known. She did, in a bad way.

Do you have an Elinor on your sales team?

You know, the one who screams, “That was my sale!”

The one who makes everyone miserable.

The one who has to say to the salesperson while the customer is at the register, “I greeted them,” or “Oh you came back after you talked to your husband.”  They have to put the other person in their place like Ms. Burkett attempted to do to Mr. Williams.

The problem is for Ms. Burkett, the whole world was watching.

The problem for you is your whole store is watching. It is a big turnoff to any customer in earshot but especially the customer enduring the battle.  Nothing screams, “WE WORK ON COMMISSION!!” more than that behavior.

If you don’t have a commission system, bonus program or other incentive you never have to deal with this – too bad for you because no one is trying to be a superstar, make more money or move product.

Adopt Groundrules
If you have an “ups” systems, which I recommend, where each person gets one “up” to greet a customer and then moves to the bottom of the order whether they sell that customer or not, create some ground rules:

  • Once the customer walks out, you do not get credit for the sale.
  • Close ‘em or lose ‘em – no business cards given to customers to “ask for me.”
  • Never cut in on a sale unless the other person allows it privately first.
  • Never mention whose sale it is or commissions in front of a customer or both of you lose credit.

Final thought: sometimes customers don’t want the original salesperson and will intentionally avoid them.  Those customers are giving your business a second chance so it is better to allow them to decide whether to speak to someone new or the original, rather than an ups system.

Set the ground rules ahead of time and you’ll reduce the chances of having an Elinor Burkett barrel their way into a sale, ruining your customers’ experience, and giving customers something bad to remember you by. Or worse, telling their friends on Facebook or posting a video on YouTube.

Find more tips how to manage a sales team in my book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Sales: How to Diagnose, Treat and Cure.

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Posted by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor on December 2, 2011.

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3 Responses to “How To Deal With A Bad Salesperson on Your Payroll”

  1. [...] Kanye'd as the lingo now goes by red-headed Elinor Burkett. Burket was actually nominated …How To Deal With A Salesperson like Elinor Burkett | Bob …Do you have an Elinor on your sales team? You know, the one who screams, That was my sale! The one [...]

  2. I am so totally uncomfortable with this. I can’t even watch the video. It’s horrible when someone goes to such lengths – it’s actually pretty icky. I love that you’re giving store managers tips on setting ground rules so this never happens. I worked in sales many moons ago and so now when I’m out, I ask for the card of someone if I’m going to take time to think it over – IF – I have enjoyed working with them. I did that at Best Buy and they told me – no worries they don’t work on commission. But then when I came back, I got stuck with the worst sales person ever and wished my original guy could have helped me. Customers need to ask for what they want and retailers need to have plans in place to respond.

    Eww – Elinor. So sad!

    Thanks for rockin it Bob – per the usual,
    Heather :)

    • bobphibbs says:

      I agree Heather, I remember when it first aired and it had a yucky factor to it. That’s the same way I’ve felt hearing employees argue over “whose customer that was.” Even when they didn’t work on a commission or bonus structure!