Whenever companies bring me in to train their sales team, there is always grave concern about how to handle the underachieving sales people. Do we beat them into submission to increase sales motivation? Do we motivate them with prizes? Or do we just apply lots of pressure. The short answer is: none of the above.
The little-known way to successfully managing the underperforming sales person is to focus on the activities, increase transparency, and always be hiring A-players.
Focus On Activities: So often, companies spend all of their time driving their sales people to a certain quota rather than laying out the plan to actually get there. The problem for many underachieving sales people is not the lack of desire to actually hit their sales goal, but rather, they don’t know how to get there in the first place. When I come to an organization, the first thing I want to lay out is a clear list of the exact number of prospecting activities a sales person must do in order to hit numbers. This means: how many prospecting calls, how many introductions asked for, how many client calls, and networking events—everything, so that way all the sales person has to do is follow the plan.
Sales Teams Must Be Transparent: So often organizations keep individual sales performance a secret. Forget that. Make it totally public to everyone in the organization how each sales person is doing, and more importantly, what each sales person is doing. Nothing increases sales motivation like seeing how and what others are doing. This means looking at sales numbers but also looking at each sales person’s prospecting activities. How many prospecting calls did your sales team make this week? How many introductions did your sales team ask for this week?
Always Be Hiring: Nothing motivates underperformers like knowing that they have to perform or they will be replaced. However, the threat must be real—as in there is ongoing search for A-players constantly. This serves two purposes: one, it motivates underperformers to perform, but it also provides you with a pool of talent to add to your team. We should always hire A-players when they come along because they don’t come around often.
In the end, combine these three strategies and watch your underperformers either perform or be replaced. Either way it is a win-win for the company.
How do you manage your underperformers? Please share below.