Are Your Top Sales Reps Your Best Leaders?

The ethos of leadership

I watched College GameDay on New Year’s Eve morning and, while trying to keep an eye on my daughter to prevent her from breaking something or hurting herself, a story caught my attention. It was about two players on the Michigan Football Team named Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.

The making of a leader

Aidan Hutchinson was a consensus All-American and the Defensive Player of the year. He grew up knowing that he would follow in his Dad’s footsteps to play football at Michigan.  David Ojabo grew up in Nigeria and moved to America when he was 15 years old. Different from Aidan, he had little experience, playing only  26 snaps in his two years at Michigan.


The story showcased the immense changes that had happened on the Michigan team over the last year. Last year, Hutchinson was hurt; Michigan only won 2 games all season and even forfeited their last game to Ohio State. Quite the disaster, it would have been easy for Hutchinson to head to the NFL as a projected first round draft pick.


But, he didn’t take the easy way out. Hutchinson was committed to leading his team to a succesful season, one where they finally beat Ohio State.


What caught my attention wasn’t his passion for leading the team in season, it was actually what he did in the offseason.  Hutchinson worked with the strength and conditioning coach every single day. David saw his drive and joined him, saying  “I’m going to be in your hip pocket every day.”

Good leaders make an impact

Fast Forward to this year and the two combined for 25 sacks. Hutchinson finished second in the Heisman trophy ballet and is a top 5 draft prospect. Ojabo went from playing 26 plays to becoming an All-American and a top 10 NFL draft prospect.


Best of all? Michigan, with new leaders in Hutchinson and Ojabo, went from 2 wins to the number 2 ranked team in the country, with their first-ever birth in the college football playoff.


Everyone can agree that was a fantastic turnaround. If Hutchinson had gone to the NFL draft instead of returning to win big, how big of an impact would that have made on Michigan’s season? My guess is that Jim Harbaugh would be out of a job and you would not know David Ojabo’s name.

How does this translate to sales? Strong leadership matters.

It has been proven that when our best sales reps are the best culture fits and teammates; it makes everything easier. They show up early and leave late, make the extra call or touchpoint, ask what else they can do to help the team and help grow new reps.


Is this not the case at your organization? Are your best sales reps closed off, not interested in looking for new clients, taking long lunches and exhibiting poor behavior?


It’s time for you to evaluate how to deal with top performers who do not fit the culture you are looking to foster. You know as well as I do that they are great to have around to help you hit your numbers, but the long term effect is not positive. Keeping them will eventually come back to burn you.



Curious about what other managers, coaches and leaders think on this topic and what they have done to handle a top performer that isn’t the best teammate or culture fit.

Two important things to remember:

  1. One of the biggest struggles is what to do with top performers that don’t fit the culture I want. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  2. I think we can agree when our best sales reps are the best culture fits and teammates; it makes our lives easier. 

Struggling to adopt these ideas? Contact me today for a free 30 minute consultation, where I will provide real life tips and tricks.

Matt D. Ferguson
Sales Leader





The key to becoming an effective sales leader is to develop a customized leadership process for your team.