I came across an article somewhere that actually recommended against hiring top performers because they are supposedly "unmanageable." Here is my reply to that ridiculous suggestion:
I think it's very important for sales managers to realize that superstar salespeople are extremely entrepreneurial, which of course is what makes them superstars. An employee mentality is very limiting in sales and the top producers are those who work like independent consultants, not like employees.
The problem is that most companies want to treat top producers like employees and this is where the conflicts of interest begin. A friend of mine (he and I now own an insurance agency together) and I worked together for a couple of years. We were both top producers and we both routinely quit jobs that brought us in for our track records but then wanted us to do things "their way" such as requiring us to cold call. The problem is that we didn't become star producers by doing things their way. We did it our way and it worked. The very best years I had in sales were working for companies that did not bother with sales plans, meetings, and forecasts (namely Sprint and Lucent Technologies in Las Vegas.) We were all treated like independent consultants and as a result I was able to work like one and produce fabulous results, albeit on my terms.
In all my sales experience, and in business in general, one of the biggest causes of failure for managers is an inability to delegate. The reason I have done so well in the past few years as the owner of a few businesses is that I love to delegate. Most sales managers are completely unable to delegate. They don't realize that hiring a top producer is the equivalent of hiring an independent consultant. For example, I pay the firm that handles the marketing campaigns for my websites without trying to micro-manage them or otherwise probe into what they're doing. I pay them because they're better at it than me, and for that reason they are free to do as they see fit. The same rule must be applied to superstar salespeople or the whole plan will backfire.