Beware the Rockstar Salesperson

Sales Managers, I have a cautionary tale to tell you, and you would do well
to heed my advice:

Do everything in your power to avoid creating Rockstar Salespeople.

Why not, you ask? Don’t you want high performers on your sales team?

Well, of course you do. But what you don’t want is Prima Donnas and Divas.

I’ll tell you why: Because the career arc of Rockstar Salespeople is a lot
like a meteor. In fact, the phrase “meteoric rise” when applied to someone’s
career is ironically accurate: they shine blazingly bright really quickly,
and burn away to nothing just as quick.

Generally speaking, here’s what happens: a salesperson performs well,
receives accolades from management, and the hype goes to their heads.
They’re told they’re better than everyone else, and they believe it.

That’s when the trouble starts. That’s when they start deciding that the
rules don’t apply to them. Whether it’s relatively arriving late and leaving
early, or deciding that routine office chores are beneath them or far more
serious issues like interpersonal problems with co-workers or attempted
commission fraud, it’s all a problem.

In many ways, being a Sales Manager is a lot like being a parent. As the
saying goes, you make your own monster. If you encourage Rockstar behavior
to escalate, and cut them some slack “because they’re your top performer”
then of course it’s going to snowball out of control until someone gets
fired. If it’s a big enough problem for the company you might end up fired
along with your Rockstar.

You want high performers, but you want them to be consistent. Day in, day
out, year in year out, you want professionals, not Prima Donnas. You want
salespeople who do the right thing all the time, and work hard to better
themselves, and better their production. To use a sports analogy, you want
strong utility players, rather than a spoiled, overpaid superstar who
eventually starts underperforming.

As a manager, how you make that happen in your people boils down to how you
run your business.


Lee Distad

Lee Distad

Lee Distad is a rAVe columnist and freelance writer covering topics from CE to global business and finance in both print and online. Reach him at