6 Steps to Managing Underperforming Sales Reps

Published on Oct 14, 2019

It’s not uncommon for sales managers to hit a wall with some reps on their team. Underperforming salespeople present a dilemma for sales managers: terminating a sales rep can be costly, but an underperforming rep can lead to lost opportunities and low profitability. Before making the final call, however, try these tips for managing underperforming sales reps. We’ll walk you through strategies that can help you improve performance to get them back on track.

Identify new training strategies and motivators that drive your sales reps to perform at the highest levels. Speak with a HireDNA sales recruiting and training expert.

First, Identify the Problem

Even underperforming sales reps know when they are not meeting the set goals or expectations. They can read through the Key performance indicators (KPIs) and see where they are lacking. Your job as the sales manager, however, is to identify the root cause of the problem and take action to help them boost their performance.

Get to the root cause by asking them to explain their performance:

  • Why are they lacking in their set KPIs?
  • What are the reasons behind the gradual downfall in their performance?
  • Are the problems that they face relating to their personal life, the team, or the organization?
  • What tools, resources, and support do they feel they need to improve?

Get Organized

Once you have the issues outlined, segment them on the basis of whether they are something you can help them with (organizational issues) or something they need to work on themselves (personal issues).

As their manager, try to make the workplace as accommodating as it can be. Even if they are facing personal issues, try to give them some time off to tackle it better. By showing that you care, you can help motivate them to take control of their life and career. Sometimes, an open, candid conversation can be just the inspiration they need to turn their performance around.

Identify key areas of improvement and train your underperforming sales reps for success with HireDNA. Learn more.

Provide Coaching & Guidance

Often, poor performance stems from the simple reason of not knowing what to do and how to do it. Chances are, your underperforming sales rep lacks guidance on what you expect of them and how to effectively execute. You can try to improve their performance by showing them how to do what you expect of them, instead of reprimanding them.

Sales managers play a key role in developing salespeople. Coaching involves empowering your reps to identify issues on their own and determine appropriate solutions. The impact of this is clear: according to a study by CSO Insights, 95% of reps met their quota when a sales manager’s coaching skills exceeded expectations. Work closely with your preps, and provide personalized coaching and guidance, especially to anyone who may be underperforming.

Offer Training

Regular training can benefit your entire sales team, not just underperforming reps. At HireDNA, we can help you identify performance gaps and offer targeted training modules to help you ramp your team up for success.

We use Rapid Learning Institutes’ (RLI) Micro-Learning Platform, which offers a number of benefits:

  • 5-7 minute training videos
  • 100 modules in 10 key areas
  • Customizable content based on individual skill gaps
  • Role play, quizzes, and real-world guides
  • Usage reports and real-time analytics

Contact us for more information on our sales training programs.

Set & Keep Clear Expectations

An important step in managing underperforming sales reps is to communicate your expectations loud and clear. They should know exactly what you require of them and how much effort they need to put in to meet their benchmarks.

This should not be your usual meeting, where you assign them annual quotas, etc. Instead, a task by task, or metric by metric breakdown of what you expect from an underperforming salesperson is necessary.

If their poor performance stems from their lack of effort in a certain activity (number of calls, presentations, proposals, etc.), consider setting target goals for those specific actions. This will provide them with something to start off with, and you can formulate an action plan to gradually increase their productivity over time.

Provide Regular Feedback

The first step to addressing a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. Your salespeople need to know whether or not you are happy with their performance.

All too often, sales managers only identify performance gaps when they are forced into conducting a performance review. A lack of formal and informal feedback, however, fosters a culture of non-accountability that leads to performance gaps in your sales team. Without regular feedback, underperforming salespeople will likely adopt a habit of doing things in a non-productive way. Consider establishing a weekly or monthly check-in where you can acknowledge your team and individual successes and failures.

Build a Productive Sales Team with HireDNA

A highly efficient and productive sales team is a cornerstone of organizational success. Organizations need to motivate and manage all sales reps carefully to continue to strive for optimum performance.

At HireDNA, we bring over 10 years of experience to help you recruit, train, and retain your salespeople. Let us help you cultivate a high-performance sales culture that helps your team grow.

Why Choose Us?

  • Our evaluations have increased sales productivity by as much as 33%
  • Our training has helped clients to identify 33% more sales opportunities
  • Our clients have grown top line revenue by 25%

Ready to take your sales performance to the next level?

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