Not long ago I was talking with the owner of a company who didn’t know if two of his salespeople were going to make it in their industry, in fact he wasn’t sure they were even average salespeople. This is a huge sales management “ouch”. You’ve got a rep or reps and they aren’t cutting it so what do you do.
The answer is logical but not stress free in the execution stage. Salespeople are accountable to themselves, the sales manager and the owner, which means that they have to perform specific sales activities in the right quantities to achieve thier goal and the corporate goal. (Actually, this is not a bad definition of sales.) When you have a salesperson who isn’t performing well in any sales area and, in addition, may be carrying around an insufferable ego or bad attitude then it’s time to tighten the performance noose.
Call the rep into your office and lay out a sales plan that leaves no wiggle room on performance. Here is what to cover:
- The number of sales calls per week.
- The number of prospecting calls per week.
- The number of closed deals you expect from the rep over a certain period of time.
- If the selling cycle is long and closing sales takes time then lay out an expectation that X amount of sales have to be at a specific point in the sales process.
- The number of times that you will work with the salesperson over the next 6 weeks.
- Disciplined use of the contact managemet system.
- Disciplined use of the sales process that you, as the manager, has instituted.
- Weekly one-on-one updates with the manager.
If the salesperson has even a moderate sized cerebral cortex then they will get the idea behind all this. The other question to pose to yourself is-how do you present this to the rep? This may not work with everyone but give it some thought. When I had a “come to Jesus” meeting with a salesperson I told them that they weren’t working even close to their potential, the potential that I knew was there. I really did try to wrap the situation in a positive way. If the rep chose to perform to higher standards then he or she stayed and everyone was a happy camper. If the rep didn’t like the rules and failed to improve then don’t let the door hit you on the way out!
Of course, the key to this process is continuing to hold the rep accountable to the standards you set. It doesn’t do any good to document the standards and then forget about them.
There is another factor to consider. If you have other reps who are performing well then they will start to wonder if there is a double standard. When that happens your problems multiply.
The Final Word: “An acre of performance is worth a whole world of promise. William Dean Howells