Handling Underperformance

As a sales manager you’re crystal clear as to your role. To drive results and revenue via your salespeople. You do this with three interventions:

  1. One to ones
  2. Field coaching
  3. Sales meetings

You ensure that your salespeople buy into their targets and take responsibility for them. When they’re responsible they become accountable. The best place to check on results and discuss actions is at the one to one meeting. These can be held face to face (preferably), on the phone or via skype. They must happen regularly for the impact to be seen. They’re easy to put off; I’ve witnessed sales managers inside and outside, put off one to ones for some other non-priority task. Usually someone else’s’ priority not theirs.

In the one to one you can follow this hierarchy when it comes to accountability:

  1. Results
  2. Pipeline
  3. Activity

Discuss the results first. They may be on target or below target. Find out what, why, when. If they’re below target move to the next stage and discuss the pipeline.

A healthy pipeline indicates future business, obvious really. Talk about the opportunities involved and how they can succeed. If the pipeline is not healthy, then move onto activity.

Now start drilling down on their activity levels. Measure them now if you wish, have targets, you may start to micro-manage at this point. That’s OK because the salesperson is slumping badly and you need to get on top of the issues. No one likes to be micro-managed, I despise it, but you need to get to the bottom of the underperformance and activity monitoring is the way forward now. After all, they are accountable for their results and focussing on activity is the last resort.