How to Create an Effective Sales Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

Published on Dec 16, 2019

Your sales team’s performance is crucial to your organization’s bottom-line. Every underperforming salesperson represents missed opportunities and lost revenue that could have contributed toward your business. While the most straightforward fix may appear to let the salesperson go, think again.

Rather than spend time and resources on ramping up a new hire, it may be more cost-effective to work to improve the underperforming rep’s performance. That’s where a sales performance improvement plan (PIP) comes in.

Evaluate performance gaps and develop a highly successful training program to boost your sales team’s output. Contact a HireDNA expert today.

5 Ways To Create An Effective Sales Performance Plan

A sales performance plan, also known as a performance improvement plan (PIP), is a detailed strategy that outlines the steps underperforming sales reps need to take in order to regain their optimal performance levels.  

This plan defines clear goals and growth metrics along with the roadmap to achieve those goals. With a timeline added to the strategy, your salesperson has a fair chance to improve their performance.

So, how do you create an effective sales PIP? Here are some key tips to building the right PIP:

Evaluation Your Team’s Performance

Before building out your PIP, it’s important to evaluate your salespeople and understand why they are underperforming. Once you do that, you’ll have the groundwork you need to understand what it will take to help them improve in those areas and ultimately increase their performance altogether.

Start with an evaluation to understand your reps’ strengths and weaknesses to determine where you should focus your time and attention. An evaluation will also help to determine if your rep is capable of improving their skills and ultimately their results. 

With thorough sales team evaluations, HireDNA can help you identify KPIs, uncover skill gaps, and discover opportunities for future growth. Learn more.

Provide A Precise Overview

Your performance improvement plan should not include vague statements and motives. Instead, it should clearly state what has been lacking in the sales rep’s performance.

For increased clarity, consider restating their job description and provide a comparative overview of what has been missing. For instance, if a sales rep is expected to meet a minimum of 70% of their quarterly quota and they have failed to do so, mention that with their exact figures in your performance plan.

Remember to include specific examples such as missed projects, exceeded deadlines, or incidents where the sales rep did not meet their role’s expectations.

Outline Tangible Goals

To provide further clarity in expectations, sales managers should provide highly targeted breakdowns of goals and objectives. Consider setting specific activity-based goals, like appointing a minimum number of leads per week or imposing minimum demonstrations per quarter. When defining your goals, be sure to prioritize what you want to accomplish first, and outline incentives for meeting smaller objectives.

For more tips here, read our blog post on How to Set Measurable Sales Goals & Objectives.

Make Your PIP Realistic

The entire performance improvement plan should include steps, learning procedures, and relevant metrics that can be achieved in the apportioned timeframe. If a sales rep is struggling to generate leads, they might require additional training and further time to put that into practice. Cramming the entire strategy into a week is unlikely to bear any fruit. Make sure you work closely with the rep and compare with other reps to help ensure the goals you set are realistic.

Establish Timely Follow-Ups

Once you have presented your sales performance plan to the salesperson, it is essential to schedule periodical follow-ups. As a sales manager, you should remain up to date on the progress your underperforming team members are making.

Regular coaching is key for a sales manager to help reps improve performance. Check-ins will allow you to stay at the forefront of any issues or troubles they may be facing with the plan. Be careful not to make these check-ins overly negative. They should be encouraging and include coaching to uncover obstacles and provide advice to help the salesperson meet their objectives. By showing that you are dedicated to helping them improve their performance, you can build loyalty and motivate them to put in more effort.

Effective coaching can also help to prevent the need for a PIP, as a sales manager can work closely with their reps to improve skills and ensure performance is on track with expectations.

Keep It On The Low

The enactment of a sales performance plan does not have to be a team-wide affair. Particularly in the case of veteran salespeople who are struggling to meet their targets, a publicized sales performance improvement plan can have a dampening effect on their morale. It is okay and often-times preferred to have the PIP remain a matter between the sales manager and the underperforming salesperson.

As a sales manager, it’s important to ensure that the entire process remains a positive experience. Outlining the advantages of the plan and providing positive encouragement can go a long way to boost a rep’s morale and performance.

Develop A High Performing Sales Team

Finding and recruiting talented sales reps is one of the toughest tasks for sales managers. An underperforming sales rep can become a highly successful performer if provided with a meticulously designed performance plan.

At HireDNA, we help organizations build high-performance sales machines. With science-backed sales performance evaluations, we can help you uncover skill gaps on both the team and individual level. Then, through customizable training programs, we can target those gaps and help you to ramp up performance in no time. Let us help you build a winning sales team!


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