Managing an underperforming sales rep is one of the most challenging responsibilities of a frontline manager. You hired this person with high expectations and were excited to see them develop into a superstar, but they’re underperforming their quota. Consider this list of questions to explore what you can do to help them.
1. Does the Salesperson Know the Expectations?
The only way you can determine this is by asking the individual whether they can repeat what they’re expected to do and explain it back to you.
2. Are They Meeting the Expectations?
If the salesperson meets expectations, you should provide positive reinforcement and delegate as much responsibility as possible to that individual.
3. Does the Salesperson Know How to Meet the Expectations?
If you have set expectations and the salesperson is still not meeting them, ask yourself whether they know how to achieve them. In other words, have they had the necessary training and coaching to perform at your expected level?
4. Does the Salesperson Make the Proper Effort?
If you feel like you’ve trained and coached them and they are still not performing at the level you expect, ask yourself whether the salesperson makes the proper effort. Maybe you have seen them succeed before, but for some reason, they aren’t putting in the effort anymore.
If a motivation or attitude issue is getting in the way, counsel the salesperson and try to understand what’s affecting their performance. Then, determine what you can do to address it.
5. Is the Salesperson Receiving Appropriate Rewards and Consequences?
Consider whether the salesperson is receiving appropriate rewards in alignment with expectations. This doesn’t mean you should throw out the comp plan or revamp the bonus plan every time, but you may want to reward the salesperson through recognition or contests, or even by regularly telling them they are doing a good job.
On the same note, are you providing consequences if they are not performing? A consequence might mean reviewing their call plans. If they’re not preparing enough, you could meet with them one-on-one and talk through their plan for the next week.
6. Are Obstacles Blocking Their Performance?
Maybe they know how to succeed, have received proper training, and are making an effort, but something is still getting in the way—like resource issues or a lack of support. As the sales manager, you need to identify and remove these roadblocks.
7. Is This Person a Good Fit?
If you’ve used this checklist and still aren’t seeing the results you expect, consider whether this person is the right fit for the position. If you’re unsure, it might be time to consider reassignment or termination of that individual. Before taking this step, you should feel confident that you’ve done everything possible to empower them to succeed.
Managing underperforming sales reps can be daunting, but by asking the right questions, you can help them get back on track and reach their full potential. This checklist ensures that you leave no stone unturned in your quest to improve their performance.
Ultimately, your goal as a manager is to drive results and empower your sales reps to thrive. If, after all your efforts, it becomes evident that a person is not the right fit, consider reassignment or termination as a last resort.