Inside Sales Rep Management Techniques: How to Protect Star Performers

Within every company there are always a few standouts that would be classified as ‘stars.’ Because of their consistent high performance, they are highly visible and everyone knows them. It’s these types of employees that we spend all our time recruiting.

In my upcoming research paper, “Catching Falling Stars: A Human Resource Response to Social Capital’s Detrimental Effect of Information Overload for Star Employees,” the potential dangers of creating too many distractions for a ‘star’ performer are highlighted and are very applicable to the sales industry.

A star sales employee produces significantly more output than average employees, depending on industry. For example, within biology and physics, star employees produce on average 17x more output. Because of their high visibility and high performance, star employees are likely to be more sought after for advice, influence and association, causing many of the employees in the organization to seek them out. When companies follow their conventional thinking and proceed to make their ‘star’ available to as many people as possible, they are hoping for exponential connections and increased business when in reality they are causing exponential overload and causing the productivity of their ‘stars’ to suffer. What ends up happening to these star employees is they get overloaded with information, killing the value of the star.

To summarize the key take-a-ways of the research paper, managers should do everything they can to protect the attention of their sales reps on an individual, organizational and network level. For the individual level, managers and executives should provide training to their stars to teach them how to increase their ability to process information. For example, a non-star employee will check their email constantly throughout the day. A star should never do this because the constant pecking will ensure that’s all they will get done in the day. Instead, a star should be trained to block out a half-hour of their day to look at their email. The most important thing you can do is to help them manage the flow of information around them. On an organizational level, make sure you have installed gatekeepers so that you are preserving your stars attention and their ability to get things done! Other practices should be put in place to ensure the preservation of the attention of the star. Finally, at the network level, stars do not need to do LinkedIn and Facebook. Instead of using time for social outreach, they need to really focus on increasing their capacity and preserving attention.

It all comes back to preservation. As a manager, the constant question you should be asking yourself is how you can better manage star employees’ attention to ensure that your star remains a star and doesn’t burn out.

To read the full report when it becomes available, visit

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