How To Manage Poor Performing Salespeople

Taking swift corrective action with poor sales performers is the key to any sales manager's responsibilities. Nowhere is it more important than in sales to quickly take action when a sales person is not hitting their revenue targets. Management's job is to diagnose and detect the underlying reasons for a sales person not performing and to engage in corrective action in order to correct the behavior, the activity or the results as necessary. Often times, sales managers are too slow to recognize when a sales performance issue is coming to light and waits and hopes that a sales person will sell themselves out of a slump. Only through active engagement with the sales person can sales management hope to mitigate or reduce the possibilities of bad sales performance and get a sales person onto a turn around plan that will produce the results they are looking for.

The key to managing a poor performer's improvement is healthy, open, assertive discussions in a climate of accountability, as well as a friendly, helpful and supportive environment. A lot of sales managers come down hard on their people when a person is not producing the right sales revenues for the company. And a lot of times this is the most destructive thing. Sales people, just like everyone else in life, need positive motivation and empowerment in order to succeed. So, simply taking a harsh approach to an individual at the outset when the first signs of poor sales performance are occurring is not a remedy for the problem. And often times will have the very effect on a person's motivation that you're trying to avoid. A better way is to sit down and talk with the individual and understand from their perspective what's happening in the sales process or what their sales strategy or with their activity that is the underlying cause for the poor performance.


I've met many sales mangers over my career who actually avoid confronting their sales people when they see poor sales performance. And sales people need to be confronted in an assertive and healthy and productive environment in order to understand what management's expectations are and attempt to make correction to their work and take corrective action. So a sales manager's job is not to apologize or hide from the truth, but to assertively, and in a healthy way work, with their sales people to diagnose the problem, understand what the underlying causes are for the problem, and look for solutions. The best solutions often times, come from the sales person themselves.

How To Manage Poor Performing Salespeople

In particular, most sales people understand what it is that's not going right and can reach their own conclusions regarding what they need to do in order to improve their results. So the best way to start any corrective action discussion with the sales person is to ask them what are the causes for not achieving your bookings or revenue targets, what is the competitive environment that you're in, how much activity is actually being undertaken in order to generate the level of new prospects, qualified deals, and proposals that are going to lead to the sales results that you're trying to achieve. Often times, sales people understand the root causes of their own deficiencies, and when given the opportunity, can step up and take ownership and responsibility for making changes in their daily routine, in their approach, in their technique, in their processes in order to fix the problem.

Sales management's job is to facilitate this and making sure that communication is happening that's going to diagnose the problem as quickly as it's understood and take corrective action to accelerate sales and improve overall performance.

How To Manage Poor Performing Salespeople

Cube Management helps companies accelerate their sales, by providing the Sales & Marketing talent they need to grow their business. Cube is a leading recruiting and consulting partner to mid-market and emerging growth companies in the technology, manufacturing, healthcare and business service sectors. We work across the spectrum of Sales, Marketing and Business Development, providing holistic solutions that drive revenue and profit success. Cube Management combines Strategy, Process and People, to produce great results. Download the Cube Management Recruiting Guide and the Cube Management Inside Sales Guide.