This week I want to focus on underperforming sales reps, and what to do with those reps as a sales leader. I've also put together a free Word template that you can use straight away to build a Sales Performance Improvement Plan.
It’s the sales version of “the million dollar question”. What to do with sales reps who are consistently underperforming.
The classic “80/20” problem strikes poorly performing sales teams particularly hard. Unfortunately, in many teams, 20% of the reps produce 80% of the revenue - leaving most of the team in the “underperforming” category.
This adds stress to the entire team, not to mention the reps who spend more time worrying about their future than how to address their issues. In addition, sales management ignore underperformers for too long, preferring to spend time working with top performers on closing more business.
However, tackling underperformance in sales front on is critical to building a high performance team.
Remember, the best way to move the needle in sales isn't to juice more out of your top performers, it's to move your low and core performers up a few percentage points.
Once you’ve identified an underperformer, the first thing you need to do is address the issue head on. You need to book a time to sit down with a rep, in private, to figure out how to get that rep back on track.
When you sit down, you need to build a Sales Performance Improvement Plan (SPIP).
A SPIP is a contract that the sales rep and the manager sign, outlining how they aim to improve performance, together by setting concrete goals. It outlines where the problem lies, what actions will be taken to rectify the problems, what support is needed internally and a basic timeframe.
Here’s a fictional example of how you could structure your “Actions” table inside your SPIP.
|KPIS THAT ARE BELOW EXPECTED STANDARD||EXPECTED STANDARDS FOR THAT KPI||ACTIONS/WHAT WILL I DO?||SUPPORT NEEDED TO SUCCED||TIMEFRAME|
|I am only booking on average 5 meetings per week||10 Meetings Booked Per Week||I will block 2 hours every morning to hit the phones. In addition I will work together with my manager Peter and John, our top meeting booker on my script and phone techniques.||I need to book some time with John and Peter to go over my script. I also want to book a 2 hour session with John and listen into his calls.||My ambition is to hit 10 Booked Meetings per week by the end of April, in 4 weeks time.|
|I give too many discounts, on average 25% on each deal.||Less than 10% discount rate on average, across all deals.||If I find myself entered into a price discussion, I’m going to use the “Discounts” script that Peter and I built. I will focus on the value my product creates, successful case studies and on building a business case for the prospect.||I need Peter to help me to build a script and set of action points to discuss if I find myself in a “price discussion”. I also need the Marketing team to provide me with a set of ROI/Case Studies tagged by industry.||My ambition is to lower my discount rate to 10% by the end of May, in 8 weeks time.|
Now, I can hear you already. This is obvious. You are just writing down the issues.
However, I've seen the impact of a well thought-through SPIP. Sometimes sales reps are moving so quickly (and have so much conflicting input and advice), that they fail to reflect on what is really going on.
By simply writing down their issues, solutions and goals - it can often "clarify" a clear path forward.
Trust me, I've seen it work. Give it a try in February with one of your underperforming reps.
Recommended further reading on this topic: