Every sales team has THAT sales rep, the one who seems to drag the numbers down month after month. While every stable inevitably has to have its slowest horse, that does not mean that you cannot raise the minimum standard to improve performance overall. With just a little investigation, some motivation, a data visualization platform and a lot of coaching, you can help this rep retrace their steps through the sales pipeline to find out how to change their rough waters into smooth sailing.
Here are six steps to get started:
1. Start With the Data
Science shows us time and time again that our assumptions are often wrong, no matter how plausible they seem. Only by looking at data can we debunk stubborn interoffice myths like “the best performing sales reps always work the longest hours,” so take a look at your team’s performance data and sales activities to chart some actual trends before you consider your assumptions true.
In the case of weak performers, pay particular attention to how their actions differ from the middle-of-the-pack. Try to identify clear separations corresponding to stages in the pipeline, such as observing that the average employee makes three times as many demonstrations as the person in question.
Put like 3-5 best KPIs to track sales reps performance here -
2. Translate Your Data Into Problems and Actionable Solutions
Once you have taken a dive into your highest selling sales reps’ performance and activity data, you can begin to highlight key differences between them and the other rep who seems to be holding everyone back. Look for differences in:
- Prospecting activities — AKA, number of emails sent and calls made
- Touchpoints — Once leads start progressing to the nurture stage, how often is contact made?
- Conversion rates — How many people get past nurturing into exploring packages and options?
- Other standouts — Look for things that jump out, such as your weakest lead not calling anyone in a certain region or industry sector
3. Break Your Improvement Targets Into Granular Goals
Once you highlight these problem areas, you can help your weak performer focus on keeping pace with the activities of others, qualifying leads properly and getting better conversion rates.
For the sake of convenience, let’s say your weakest sales performer sends off 150 less follow-up emails in a quarter and converts 20% less people, or 18 total, from the initial inquiry stage to a final proposal.
Setting a goal to have all these performance gaps cleared up by the end of the quarter would feel both unrealistic and unmanageable, but if the rep instead has each goal broken down on a week-by-week basis, such as making 16 follow-up emails a week, then they can start to see the way forward.
You can have the rep make a task sheet for themselves to track granular progress over the day, week, month and quarter. That way, you can see them fall behind as it happens rather than getting caught by surprise.
4. Identify Weaknesses Through Further Observation
Setting goals is not enough if the sales rep lacks the skills to reach them. As they attempt to boost their numbers, sales managers can observe them closely to identify factors that could affect their performance.
So, if the goal is to send more follow-up emails, management can also observe the timespan between receipt of the lead’s email and sending of the follow-up one. They can also check the tone and wording of follow-ups to see if perhaps the sales rep has been deviating from known best practices.
Ideally, every sales goal posited should be accompanied by a recommended skill or practice to help reach that goal.
5. Use Shadowing and Roleplay
The best teacher is experience, but employees usually cannot afford to learn by failing. Instead, they can learn by simulated failure through role playing.
Have a senior staff or top seller assume the role of a lead and evaluate how the poor performer approaches a sales situation. Follow through on each session with tailored coaching, advice, redirects and praise. As the employee recognizes their own failures and successes on a real-time basis, they can see how to adjust their approach in-the-moment to achieve more.
Employees can also learn through observation by accompanying sales leaders during prospecting or demos.
6. Measure, Respond, Redirect Using a Sales Performance Visualization Tool
Setting goals and having one or two coaching sessions is never enough. “Fixer-upper” employees must be observed to ensure that the recommended improvements are actually working. They must also be given tailored advice as they build skills so that they can go from “good” to “great.”
Once again, tracking data is the only way to truly know what you think you know, so make sure you have a data visualization tool that can help you identify performance gaps and strategic improvement opportunities as the rep improves. Eventually, your worst employees could become model employees that help you perfect your onboarding process and lift sales performance overall.
If you have trouble using your current CRM system to track performance and identify issues, then you can take a look at our Data Visualization tool for Salesforce users and get started for Free today!