October 7, 2010

Trading Randy Moss, Really? Are You Sure?

As a huge football fan who makes his living leading a sales organization, I am truly intrigued with the news today of the Patriots trading away Randy Moss. I follow the NFL, drive to work listening to Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio and am struggling to remain humble with my fantasy football team at 4-0 🙂 as of this post. In other words, I’m tuned in and realize that all wasn’t paradise in New England.

I get it:  It’s a business and the Pats didn’t want to extend his contract. Moss is high maintenance, self-absorbed, immature. He was outspoken and didn’t toe the company line. There’s no “I” in “Team.”  I understand all the reasons why an organization would want to move him out.

But here’s my counter-argument as a sales coach and sales executive:

How many truly A-player / Top-performers are on your team?

Be honest. How many true all-stars do you have? In my experience, the number tends to be 10% to 15% of a sales organization. That’s it. The average $75 million company with a 12-person sales team has one or two stars that consistently achieve superior results, time and time again.

Top-Performers:  Consulting for a few dozen sales organization provided a unique opportunity to study the real, live performance of a few hundred salespeople. One of the most striking conclusions I was able to draw is that almost all top-performers (the #1 or #2 ranked person at a company) have the same DNA. They’re the same person just wearing different uniforms, working in different businesses.

Consistently, these are the characteristics I’ve observed in top-performing salespeople:

  • Selfish (particularly with their time)
  • High ego, high confidence (they know they’re good and how valuable they are)
  • Demanding, high-maintenance
  • Laser-focused on results (yours and theirs)
  • Ultra-competitive
  • Not model corporate citizens (don’t enjoy company activities, will kick the copier when it’s jammed and scream for someone else to fix it now!)

Our job as sales leaders is to recruit, grow and keep top talent. Yes, oftentimes this top talent comes at a price – beyond the cost of premium compensation. There are lots and lots of average wide receivers or salespeople. And they’re likely to cause a lot less grief than a truly gifted superstar. But will they deliver the results needed to win the game?

I know there are great arguments for the other side. And I am not suggesting we put up with a total ass whose behavior and attitude are detrimental to the organization as a whole. But as I ponder the consequence of the Patriots trading away Randy Moss, I am asking us to examine our hearts and management theories when it comes to how we treat and manage our own extremely difficult, yet extremely valuable players.