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3 ways to help poor sales performers

Poor sales performance is frustrating for any sales director or sales manager and of course, the person who is not consistently hitting their sales targets! Many companies in the SME space may not have a training budget, the time or the resources to support poor performance for long.


A couple of bad sales months can start to get people in a sales team on edge. It takes a skilled, patient and supportive manager to get to the root of the problem, especially if it is affecting a number of people as well as the sales revenue figures.


So, what could be the underlying causes of this?


1. Someone’s sales targets are too high or not enough target/existing accounts

2. They need more training in aspects of the role or need more time to adapt

3. They are working in the wrong areas and may lack focus

4. They are not motivated, perhaps because of something in their personal life

5.  They are not getting the right type of support

6.  They haven’t integrated into the team or the company culture

7.  They’ve lost confidence in themselves

8.  They are the wrong person for a sales role and lack the right skills

9.  They can’t keep up with technology in relation to the product or service

10. They are taking the wrong approach


If you notice this, there are a number of indicators to look for, like absenteeism, poor health and time keeping. Other areas include a lack of enthusiasm, disruptive behaviour or irritability and examples of stress.



A poor sales performer needs help. Try and identify what is causing the underlying problem. In order to achieve, this you might want to:


1. Talk to the person about it and devise a training/coaching plan and a time frame to put

them back on a path to success, if this is possible. Find out where the problem lies, whether it can be solved and if so, how.


2.  Monitor their activity: emails, telephone calls and meetings to uncover areas which areas can be worked on. This should provide you with plenty of coaching opportunities.


3. Look at the standard of the work they are doing and the type of business interaction they are having, for example:


- Are they talking to the right people in a target account?What areas of their work are

good/poor?


- What is their attitude to their poor performance, are they committed to succeed?


- Are they able to build good business relationships and sell in the right way?


- Have they bought in to your company’s culture and standards?


As part of devising a plan, look at your sales process, from lead generation to close and post-sales account management. Then grade a poor performer in each of the areas. This will help you establish what they need help with and how you can support them.


If you have tried all of these ideas over an agreed period of time, then you should talk to the sales person about their suitability for the role and follow a defined HR process. If you are experiencing high staff turnover in sales roles, look closely at your recruitment and appraisal process including remuneration and targeting. Look also at what your top performers are doing well and try and replicate this within the sales team.


Finally re-look at your brand, competitors, market and any economic change in conditions. You don’t want to make rash decisions for reasons outside your control or which might be temporary. Establishing the causes of poor performance is time well spent in order to create happy sales team, sustainable growth and a positive sales culture.


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