How To Handle An Under-Performing Salesperson

When you're managing a team, you'll undoubtedly run across sales reps of all kinds. You'll have the reps you're proud to have on your team, the all-stars who go above and beyond and meet their goals with ease. You'll also experience the opposite—sales reps who don't seem to get the message no matter how much you coach them or reps who refuse to admit their behavior is a problem.

Author Kevin F. Davis, who has accrued more than 30 years of experience in sales, doesn't want managers to feel frustrated with under-performing salespeople. Instead, he encourages them to confront these sales reps to implement positive change. Davis shares seven actionable tips to handle salespeople who aren't living up to expectations in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Have a timely conversation. When you notice the under-performing rep hasn't addressed a problem you previously discussed, immediately make time to sit down with the individual. Remember the rule of thumb, "what you don't confront, you condone."

Focus on specific behaviors. In your conversation, it's important to walk a fine line. You must communicate how the salesperson is under-performing, but you should also avoid using destructive criticism. By zeroing in on specific behaviors, you separate the person from the behavior, and the solution seems more achievable.

Diagnose the cause. Is the performance issue rooted in a bad attitude or mental approach? Pause and consider some questions you can ask that will help you uncover the cause of the under-performing salesperson's issue. If the rep has performed well in the past, perhaps a breakdown has occurred between his or her personal goals and your company's goals. Before you prescribe a solution, you must know the cause of the problem.

Remain focused. Don't allow the conversation to get side-tracked. Stick to your talking points. If the sales rep tries to use his or her gift of gab to derail you, redirect the conversation back to the unsuccessful behavior.

Provide a way to measure progress. The under-performing sales rep needs a way to measure their progress to tell whether they have succeeded in making your requested change.

Focus on the future. What happened in the past cannot be changed, but the salesperson can take positive steps to change their future behavior. Instead of rehashing past problems, keep the conversation focused on what must happen going forward.

Put the shoe on their foot. If the under-performing sales rep were boss, what would he or she say? Ask the individual how he or she would respond to unsuccessful behavior if they were leading a sales team.

After conversing with the under-performing sales rep, always follow up. When you follow up, you're instilling accountability in your sales team and you send the message that the under-performing salesperson must implement the changes you agreed upon. If you fail to follow up, you'll send a message that the conversation wasn't that important, and nothing will improve. Apply Davis' tips above to solve any performance issues and make your sales team the best it can be.

Source: Kevin F. Davis has more than 30 years of experience in sales. He has worked his way up from sales rep, to sales manager, to general manager and is the author of The Sales Manager's Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top.

filed under January 2019
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