How to Turn Around Under Performing Sales People

Cost of hiring and training new sales persons is significantly high and if your sales team is not performing up to your expectations, you are enjoying quite a big company. It is definitely a tough decision to fire a sales person, considering you will lost huge amount of money invested on the resource, sales you won’t be able to make and cost of recruiting and training a new rep. Therefore, it is financially more feasible to turn around your underperforming sales people instead of firing them and hiring new ones.

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Take a Good Look in the Mirror:
Before you decide to fire any sales person, you must look into the mirror. Your need to identify the reasons contributing to the failure of any particular salesman or entire team despite the fact that you have invested your money, time and blood in them.

For instance, are you providing your sales team all the facilities and resources required to succeed in fast paced and extremely competitive business environment? Have put an effective system in place to properly train your new hires before they actually start selling your products? Are your salespersons receiving enough hands on coaching from their sales managers? Do your sales managers go out with them in the start of their employment to encourage and motivate them to work hard?

If answer to any of all of these questions is no, the salesperson is not the only one to be blamed for his poor performance. Before you let him go, you have to take care of the following things.

Better Sales Interviews:
If you want to hire a good and result oriented sales persons, you have to sort them out during the interview process. You must hire eagles because there is no way you can turn turkeys into eagles. Every sales interview you conduct should have a definite structure. First of all, you should prescreen candidates by reviewing their resume and social media accounts. Secondly, start the interview with easy questions that might encourage the candidate to start talking. Also, give him enough time to narrate his story.

Follow the easy questions by some deeper ones to gain an understanding of their work history, experience and industry knowledge. Ask situational questions to assess if a candidate can sell and his competencies in terms of seven core disciplines of sales as mentioned in the following figure. Most importantly, you must answer the question that whether the candidate is “culturally fit” for your organization or not.


The Essentials of Sales Onboarding:
There is no denying of the fact that the productivity of your new salesperson largely depends upon the quality and effectiveness of your sales onboarding process. Sales On-boarding is the bridgeconnecting the salesperson’s skills with proficiency in the sales role for your company, industry vertical, customer base, products, solutions, and services. In this regard, there are 5 steps to developing effective sales onboarding programs which are as under.

  • Determine optimal ramp up period and achievable milestones.
  • Determine what your sales representatives need to know.
  • Determine when your representatives need to know it.
  • Develop effective onboarding curriculum.
  • Develop effective training delivery mechanism.

Move the Middle with Sales Coaching:
You put sales performance at risk when you assume that your salespeople: know what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. You must give them proper training where effective coaching will anchor all the training process. As a matter of fact, if you don’t provide coaching to your sales staff, it will be difficult for you to retain them. On the other hand, you can considerably enhance their productivity by combining training with effective coaching.

You also need to remember that it is actually the coaching that puts a salesperson in a position to win. Coaching is not an event but an ongoing and evolving procedure. It is a series of real time interactions between a manager and a salesperson, designed to diagnose, correct, and reinforce behaviors, specific to that individual.


Four Pillars of Sales Management:
You have to align consisting coaching with four pillars of sales management to improve the performance of your salespersons. These four pillars are as under.

  • Weekly Sales Meetings
  • Weekly One to Ones
  • Prospecting Observation and Coaching
  • Field Rides (coaching before and after sales calls)

How to Know it is Time to Let them Go?
If your salespersons are not producing results despite implementing all of the above mentioned techniques, it is time to bid them farewell. However, you need to answer following seven questions before you let them go.

  • Does my salesperson know what to do?
  • Does he know why he should do it?
  • Does he know how to do it?
  • Are you applying positive reinforcements for the wrong behaviors?
  • Are there negative reinforcements for the right behaviors?
  • Are there any obstacles beyond your control?
  • Could they perform better if they wanted to?


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