Tough Call: Is Chuck worth it?

0221 tough call

The leading salesperson at the company you’ve recently acquired is a major jerk, and others on your team want him gone, regardless of his sales volume. What would you do?

So far, the year is off to an interesting start, with the acquisition of a longtime competitor whose owner decided to cash out and see the world. Much of their operation is complementary to yours, and they were strong in areas where you were weak. One of your biggest concerns, incorporating the new people into your company culture, has gone much smoother than you anticipated. With one notable exception: Chuck.

Chuck, the top salesperson at the other company, proudly embodies all of the worst stereotypes about salespeople. He treats his coworkers poorly, believes that administrative work is beneath him, and generally expects to always get his way. “The numbers don’t lie,” he explained to you the first time you met. “I’m the number one performer at our old company, by far, and I’ll be number one among your reps. But don’t expect me to waste time shuffling papers or putting information in the computer. That’s what assistants and inside salespeople are for. I’m an elephant hunter, and the only way anyone will beat my numbers is if they steal my sales.”

“I don’t think anyone would describe Chuck as a good human being, but there’s no question that he sells solid volume at healthy margins,” the former owner told you. “For me, the key was to find support people with really thick skin, who could put up with Chuck’s attitude. He refused to change his ways, but if I’d cut him loose he’d just go to work for a competitor, which would have been an even bigger problem.”

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Meanwhile, Chuck is proving to be a toxic influence on the rest of your team. After building a company based on teamwork, mutual respect, and building something good together, morale is on the decline. When you told Chuck you needed to talk with him about his role as a member of a team, he said, “You pay me to sell, and that’s what I do. My numbers speak for themselves. If you don’t like how I do my job, fire me.”

Your numbers are higher than they’ve ever been, and Chuck has brought some huge new accounts on board. But your people aren’t happy. Bill, who heads up your operations, pulled you aside yesterday and said, “Some of our really good people are getting fed up, and will likely be looking for a new job soon. You need to decide if Chuck’s numbers are worth what it’s doing to our work family.”

What would you do?

  • ACCEPT IT. You know other LBM dealers who’d do anything (within reason) to have a sales rep with Chuck’s numbers. If that means losing some longtime team members, so be it.
  • ULTIMATUM. Explain that working for you requires more than sales performance. Chuck must be a team player and treat others with respect. If he can’t do that, he’s gotta go.
  • CUT HIM LOOSE. The next time you catch him talking down to or harassing a colleague, look him in the eye and tell him he’s done. Your team needs to know that you’ve got their
  • COUNSELING. Identify and engage a skilled, experienced workplace counselor to work with all of your team—including Chuck—to see if you can bring peace to your workplace.

What would you do?

Something else?
If you’d take a different plan of attack, email your suggested solution to If we publish your reply, we’ll send you an LBM Journal mug.

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