10 Things You Can Do About An Underperforming Sales Team

Your Sales Team is underperforming.  You are not alone, Studies show that nearly 50% of salespeople miss their goals. What steps can you take?  So often is is not one thing alone, rather it is a combination of factors that contribute to underperforming teams.  If you are a SMB owner/CEO that is managing sales in addition to everything else, such underperformance can really drain precious time and distract you from other areas of the business such as finance, operations and customer service.    While there are no magic answers it all starts with looking at the current state, evaluating best practices and prioritizing areas of focus, then start the hard work of facilitating change.  Here are 10 things you should look at when trying to change your team’s performance.


  1. Analyze your current processes, how well are they mapped out and are the sales reps following the processes?
  2. How are leads gathered and nurtured?
  3. What are conversion rates for leads to sales?  Rank your reps on their skills of Lead Acquisition, Lead Nurturing and Lead Closing,  No one is good at all 3.
  4. Analyze your Sales reps.  How is your turnover?  How are the reps skills and performance?  Categorize them as A, B, or C Reps, Why do you place them in each category?  Can C’s be coached to B’s? Can B’s develop to A’s?  Are you at risk of losing your A’s
  5. If you have a sales manager review how they drive your team. You have heard the axiom  “People do not quit jobs; they quit managers.” Are they Sales Babysitters or Sales Coaches? Are they your best salesperson?  Do they develop the reps? Are they driving “Growth Hacking” in the sales organization?
  6. Compensation?  Is your sales compensation system driving the results that you want?  Compensation drives behaviors.  Do you want new business or Grow existing? How about different products/services? Does the compensation plan motivate or demotivate?
  7. What about your hiring process?  Are you using any kind of assessments to assist in your hiring?  Once on -board then use these assessments to understand motivations and behaviors and create coaching plans based on the results?
  8. Technology.  How are you using technology to assist in the sales process?  Where can you virtualize the process to drive more productivity with the sales reps.
  9. KPI’s.  How are you managing sales? Do you have measurements and KPI’s other than results that help you manage the process and insure that you are coaching the team all along the sales cycle?
  10. Do you have major accounts?  How do you treat them differently?  What risk do you have with them?  Which potential ones do you target?  Do you have  account plans? Do you have designated reps?


This is a start of ways you can direct change.  Focus6 Sales Management Solutions can help.  We can start by doing a Sales Best Practices Audit that provides a customer report comparing 30+ best practices and highlighting areas to prioritize and focus on.  Contact us to learn more.


Think twice about promoting your best sales person to sales manager

HBR Article -Think Twice Before Promoting Your Best Salesperson

Good HBR article on the challenges presented when business promote their best sales people to sales manager.  The biggest problems are (1) realizing that it is a different skill set that is needed and to make sure they possess those skills to coach, develop,  and manage people not the sales cycle and (2) the pitfalls of asking such a person to keep on selling and manage, rarely delivers the results intended. 


Do you add value to your sales calls?

I saw an amazing statistic the other day based on research into the sales and the emergence of Buyer 2.0. Surveyed companies only said that 3% of interactions with salespeople were deemed as having value.  Think about that number, of all the interactions only 3% added value.  I always preached to my sales teams that they needed a Valid Business Reason to interact with their customers, something that was meaningful, spouting features and benefits is not that.  Finding ways to impact business drivers, teaching and providing insight into industry challenges and solutions, and challenging status quo all are ways a sales person can add value to sales interactions.   Ask yourself, how much value are you adding in the next sales call,  simply quoting statistics, or providing quotes or discounting price can be done by a website.  Are you adding insight, are you engaging in a discussion on business drivers that are important to your customer?  How are you a subject matter expert?  There are 5 things you can do before your next key appointment to bring value.

1. Do your homework.  Understand the business environment of your customer, research trends, challenges and opportunities.   Understand the organization, know how your company has solved problems for similar companies.  How can you position your capabilities uniquely that addresses business drivers.

2. Don’t waste your prospects time.  Have an agenda and a Valid Business Reason for the appointment, be prepared with questions,  .

3. Ask The Right Questions.  Your questions should focus on uncovering how the challenges your customer faces can be uniquely solved by your solutions and how dealing with your company and solution adds value, not just commoditization based on price.   Provide education and insight to the macro level issues and solutions. Questions that further identify the problems, goals, challenges, needs and desired outcomes of the customer help to prioritize the needs of the customer and how that related to the urgency to solve the problems you can address.

4. Identify next steps and action items.  Listen, take notes, summarize and make sure you have actionable items for both you and the customer identified and summarized before you leave.  Just identifying a problem does not move the sell cycle along,  Having buy in on the urgency and need to solve a problem as well as joint next steps help clarify the sense of urgency and priority for the customer to solve a problem.

5. Let the prospect buy.  Assist the buying process, guide the process, customers buy for their own reasons not yours.  Educate on how your solution can reduce risk and Insure that your customer sees you as a valuable partner and one that brings though leadership to the table.