The Ultimate Sales Rep Performance Checklist & Improvement Plan
Managing an underperforming sales rep is one of the most challenging responsibilities of a frontline manager. You hired this person with high expectations and were excited to see them develop into a superstar. Yet, they are underperforming their quota. Let's look at what is happening and what you can do to help them.
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4 Steps to Help Underperforming Reps Get Back on Track
When there is a clear misalignment between what you saw on paper and what the sales rep is demonstrating, these 4 steps can help you get them back on track.
#1 Define Critical Success Factors
The first step is to communicate and monitor success factors. What is most important to your sales organization and team to achieve results? It can include growing a new account or expanding the sale of a specific product.
#2 Identify Performance Indicators and Behaviors
Next, identify indicators that will drive the performance you are looking for. It may include the number of phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Are they exceeding expectations, or are there gaps?
#3 Determine the Cause of Performance Gaps
If there is a performance gap, you want to determine the root cause. It could be due to a lack of motivation, skill, or resources.
#4 Take the Appropriate Action
Several actions are available as a manager, such as coaching, counseling, motivating, training, etc. The challenge is to select the most appropriate one based on the situation.
If there is a gap, managers often jump to the last step, trying to fix the issue without considering its root cause. However, skipping this process prevents you from discovering valuable insights you can use to develop your team.
To find the performance gap, implement a checklist that will help you evaluate performance and determine appropriate actions.
The Sales Rep Performance Checklist
Use the following questions to enable your sales reps to succeed and feel confident that you have done everything possible to get them back on track.
1. Does the Salesperson Know the Expectations?
The only way you know is by asking the individual if they can repeat what they are expected to do and explain it back to you.
2. Are They Meeting the Expectations?
If the salesperson meets expectations, you should provide positive reinforcement and delegate as much responsibility as possible to that individual.
3. Does the Salesperson Know How to Meet the Expectation?
If you have set expectations and the salesperson is still not meeting them, ask yourself if they know how to achieve them. In other words, have they had the training and coaching to perform at your expected level?
4. Does the Salesperson Make Proper Effort?
If you feel like you have trained and coached them and they are still not performing at the level you are looking for, ask whether the salesperson makes the proper effort. Maybe you have seen them do it before, but for some reason, they aren't putting in the effort anymore. If that is the case, a motivation or attitude issue could get in the way.
The appropriate action here is to counsel the salesperson and understand what is getting in the way or impacting their attitude or motivation. Then, determine what you can do to address it.
5. Is the Salesperson Receiving Appropriate Rewards and Consequences?
Consider if the salesperson is receiving appropriate rewards and consequences in alignment with the expectations. While this doesn't mean you should throw out the comp plan or revamp the bonus plan every time, you may want to reward the salesperson through recognition or contests or even by telling them they are doing a good job regularly.
On the same note, are you providing consequences if they are not performing? A consequence might be seeing their call plans. If they are not preparing enough, another consequence can be meeting with them one-on-one and having them walk through their plan for next week.
6. Are There Obstacles Blocking Performance?
This may be the case where they know how to do it, have been trained, and are making an effort, but something is still getting in the way. It might be resource issues or not getting the required support. As the sales manager, you need to determine and remove these roadblocks.
7. Is This Person a Good Fit?
If you have used this checklist and still aren't seeing the results you are looking for, ask if this person is the right fit for the position. If you are unsure, it might be time to consider reassignment or termination of that individual. Remember that before taking this step, you should feel confident that you have done everything possible to empower them to succeed.
Managing underperforming sales reps can be daunting, but with the right approach, you can help them get back on track and reach their full potential. Defining critical success factors, identifying performance indicators and behaviors, determining the cause of performance gaps, and taking appropriate action provide a structured framework to guide your efforts.
However, the journey doesn't end there. The Sales Rep Performance Checklist ensures you leave no stone unturned in your quest to improve their performance. It is about asking the right questions, such as: Do they know the expectations? Are they meeting them? Do they know how to meet them? Are they making the proper effort? Are rewards and consequences aligned with expectations? Are there any obstacles in their way? And, finally, is this person the right fit?
Remember, success in sales is not just about numbers. It is about recognizing the root causes of underperformance, whether it is skill gaps, motivation issues, or external obstacles.
Ultimately, your goal as a manager is to drive results and empower your sales reps to thrive. If, after all your efforts, it becomes evident that a person is not the right fit, consider reassignment or termination as a last resort.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is the General Manager of the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation, and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.
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