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It’s no secret that salespeople are a colorful bunch. While not all salespeople are extroverts, you probably do need to be a little bit different from the general population to put up with the daily stresses of sales life.

But sales also attracts people that can be quite complicated to manage. The same qualities that make someone a high performer in sales can make being their leader very difficult.

Spiro’s AI-Powered CRM can help remind salespeople which customer to contact next, but if you want to effectively manage your rebellious sales reps, try some of the tips below. We should also note that these things will only help when a salesperson’s behavior is rebellious but still within the acceptable parameters of a workplace. If not, your best course is through the HR department.

1. Find out their motivations

People have different reasons for being rebellious, whether it’s an inherent part of their personality or it’s pushing against rules they think don’t make much sense. Therefore, it’s important to understand what your salesperson’s true motivations are. Just like a sales pitch, once you understand the driving force behind their behavior and what makes them tick, you can use that knowledge to influence them in the right direction.

For instance, if you realize that an employee is rebellious because he or she cares deeply about the company’s performance and finds some of the processes inefficient, your immediate reaction could be to say “too bad!” But if you show the salesperson that you’re open to addressing the issue, you’ll have an energetic ally who will realize that you’re on their side.

2. Ask, instead of demanding

Different people respond to requests differently. In most cases, rebellious employees will absolutely hate being told what to do. You could try to battle human nature because you’re in charge and create an even worse situation. Or, you can get the result you’re looking for simply by changing your approach.

Instead of barking an order, ask the rebellious employee to do whatever it is you’re requesting. This doesn’t mean that you have to pretend to be their best friend, but tailor your management style to what’s going to work. There is almost no way that a rebellious employee will fall in line for longer than a few days because they were yelled at.

3. Resist the urge to micromanage

If an employee is being rebellious, you’ll want to stay on top of everything they’re doing to make sure they’re complying with your demands. But you’ll need to do this very carefully in order to not create an outcome opposite of what you’re going for.

Stop focusing on the minutiae and start focusing on results. Instead of hovering over the employee’s desk, check in at scheduled times throughout the day or week to check progress. You can’t control the other person’s behavior no matter how hard you try. You can only teach, set expectations, and inspire. Remember that.

4. Explain why certain things are important

People are a lot more intelligent and understanding than we tend to give them credit for. Even your most rebellious employee should be able to understand why things need to be done a certain way. You just have to take the time to level with them and explain why.

Help them understand why rules and processes are in place. And then explain how those rules and processes help the company, and in turn, them. Not only will the salesperson appreciate you taking the time to explain things to them, they’ll likely start following your lead.

5. Reward good behavior

You catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and rebellious employees are a lot like flies. Make sure you’re always encouraging good behavior. It may seem like something insignificant for most employees, but for a rebellious employee, following a rule or doing something they normally have a hard time with should be identified, encouraged, and rewarded.

Of course, you should make sure you’re not giving the rebellious employee special privileges. So try to be subtle around other, non-rebellious employees.

6. Play to the rebellious sales rep’s strengths

As we mentioned above, being rebellious is a character trait that can help someone become a high-performing salesperson. Not taking no for an answer, pushing through existing rule structures, and being generally unflappable are all great things when it comes to being in sales. However, these same things might make someone more difficult to manage.

Let the rebellious salesperson be themselves as much as possible. Closing deals is their primary function, and if they can do that, then the rest is just a matter of finding the right balance between your other expectations and their style.

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About the Author Ken Kupchik

Ken Kupchik is the creator of Sales Humor and the author of the funniest sales book ever written, The Sales Survival Handbook, which you can order on Amazon.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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