3 Steps to Correct Underperforming Sales Teams

Why Sales Teams Underperform

Written by Tony Cole, Co-Founder of Anthony Cole Training Group, LLC.

There are three reasons why your sales team is underperforming. Yes, I know you are hitting your numbers but that isn’t the same as the sales team performing. If you are failing at effectively executing a sales performance strategy focused on extraordinary performance, or if you fail to gain and use business intelligence for intentional coaching, then your team will underachieve for these three reasons:

  1. You get what you tolerate. Chances are your people in the middle of the bell curve, and all of those in the standard deviations to the left, are underperforming. Those at the middle and to the first standard deviation will continue to perform at that level until you do something about the bottom quintile in your company. In other words, they are safe.
  2. You made hiring mistakes. The bottom 66% that is responsible for less than 10% of your new sales: Did you hire them that way or make them that way?
  3. Your onboarding process does not establish the foundation for success. New hires should have several standards that they have to meet in the first 13 and 26-week employment marks. They should meet the standards for those metrics at 100%. No exceptions.

In our Sales Managed Environment Certification Program, Performance Management is the first step in constructing the sales environment built for sales growth.  In many cases our new clients think of performance management as managing someone out, PIPs, conducting huddles and collecting data so the organization can hold people accountable to conducting sales activity, maintaining pipeline levels and hitting their sales goals.  There is confusion between executing a disciplined approach to improvement and disciplining for failure to succeed.  A disciplined approach requires a systematic and consistent platform for coaching.

Sales Coaching always take place.  I know it does because I observe and see it. But there is a difference between coaching in the moment or coaching to close a deal and coaching to improve skills and change behaviors.  Intentional sales coaching focuses on specific skills and behaviors that are causing a sales person to either fail in their effort or fail to convert effort into results.

Fixing the Problem

  1. Stop tolerating mediocrity. Yes, you can respect someone’s decision to be average but that doesn’t mean they have to be part of your organization. Yes, you will always have a bell curve. Yes, you will always have a bottom 1/5 but year over year those segments outperform those that have come and gone before them. Define a ‘good year’ in your organization as hitting 100% of the goal.
  2. Hire better salespeople. Plain and simple. Identify what your best people are doing, assess for will to sell, sales DNA and the appropriate sales competencies. Treat interviews like auditions and keep a full and steady pipeline of candidates so that you don’t hire someone because you have an empty seat or the candidate fogged the mirror.
  3. Your performance strategy must be understood and executed at the very beginning of a salesperson’s employment with you. They must have an intense 13-week Performance Management and Sales Coaching schedule that they complete and adhere to at 100%. That sets the stage for the rest of their tenure with you.
Tony Cole is the Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Anthony Cole Training Group. For coaching strategies, visit Tony’s Blog.

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