How to Handle Underperforming Sales Reps

Every sales team has them: sales reps who consistently miss their quota, don’t appear motivated, or, when you try to help them, do better for a while and then drop back down into underperformance.  As a manager or business owner, it’s frustrating trying to get these underperforming reps to do better.  And as a sales rep, it’s also frustrating not making quota and being under the gun all the time.  What can you do about it?  Read on, I’ve got some suggestions for you.

To start with, I’d like to share a somewhat shocking study with you.  In their book, “How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer,” Herb Greenberg, Harold Weinstein and Patrick Sweeney compared results from hundreds of thousands of assessments that were conducted over several decades with actual sales performance measurements and concluded:

1)      55 percent of the people earning their living in sales should be doing something else,

2)      Another 20 to 25 percent (of salespeople) have what it takes to sell, but they should be selling something else.

I don’t know about you, but when I read those statistics I almost fell off my chair.  As I thought about it, though, I began to compare those results with my actual experience.  I work with a lot of companies and a lot of sales teams, and as I’ve written over and over again, almost all sales teams have the 80/20 rule going on: the Top 20% of the producers are usually generating about 80% of the revenue and income, while the bottom 80% are struggling to make quota.

And isn’t that true in your sales organization as well?  If you’re like many inside sales teams, you’re constantly trying to get your underperformers to produce more, but how much real success do you have?  Again, sad to say, many bottom 80% producers simply don’t improve that much and that’s why most companies are constantly hiring and replacing reps.  When you look at it that way, the numbers from the conclusion above begin to make sense…

OK, so what’s the solution?  I mean, you can’t just fire 55% of your sales team.  The good news is that there are steps you can go through to train and raise performance, and once you go through these steps you’ll know who can become a productive member of your sales team and you’ll have the structure in place to onboard new reps more quickly and efficiently.  Here they are:

1)      The first thing you need to do is to give every member of your sales team the specific tools and training they need to be successful.  Many companies I work with, including the sales managers themselves, just don’t have specific, effective sales skills, techniques, scripts to give to their sales reps.  As a result, while their Top 20% seem to intuitively know what to do, the rest of the team struggle because no one is training them how to be successful in their sales environment.

The solution is to take the time to develop a “Defined Sales Process” by identifying what steps 80% of your successful sales go through and defining the best practices at every step of this sales cycle.  Once you have defined your best practice sales process, you need to:

2)      Script out the best practice techniques and turn these into your company’s training program.  In other words, you need to give each of your reps the exact tools and techniques and scripts they need to successfully navigate every step of your sales cycle. Next, train and reinforce these skills with every member of your team.

You see, before you can properly evaluate who can make it and who can’t, you have to give them the training on your best practices first.  Only then will you be in a position to know who has the talent, motivation and work ethic to succeed in your sales environment.

3)      Once you’ve defined your sales process, turned it into your company training program and actually trained your reps on it, it’s now time to objectively evaluate each member of your team to see if they have what it takes.  I use the word objectively here because it’s now up to you to record your reps, create a “sales process or script” grading form to measure adherence to your best practices.  At this point your reps either are or they aren’t doing what you know it takes to succeed.

The good news once again is that after about 90 days of measuring, coaching and managing reps to adhere to your new best practice sales process, you’ll have a very clear idea of who is going to make it and who isn’t.  At this point you can begin replacing those reps who clearly won’t.

4)      Now that you have your DSP in place, a solid training program that teaches the most successful best practice techniques, you will be in position to hire and quickly train and evaluate your new sales reps.  With this kind of a proven system in place, you’ll get a lot more production out of your new reps much faster, and you’ll have a very clear idea of who isn’t going to make it much sooner as well.  This will make you more money and save you money and frustration at the same time.

There is obviously a lot that goes into building this kind of structure, but it’s well worth the time and effort.  In fact, according to CSOInsights.com, sales teams that have and follow a “Defined Sales Process” average more than 33% in production and revenue than sales teams that don’t. 33% – now that’s significant!  Just ask yourself how much that would mean to you and your company’s bottom line.

There are many ways to go about creating a defined sales process and training program and one of the best ways is to break down what your Top 20% are doing.  They obviously have figured out the best way to do it, so why not copy and adapt what they are doing and saying?

If you’d like to know of more ways, simply visit the link below.  Regardless of how you go about it, making this your number one priority is essential to evaluating and dealing with your underperforming reps.  It’s also the way you’re going to build and grow a multi-million dollar producing sales team.

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, if the Best Selling author of “The Real Secrets of the Top 20%” and “The Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts.”  Voted one of the most Influential Inside Sales Professionals two years in a row by The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, he is recognized as a leader in the industry.  Mike’s core selling skills webinars and onsite sales training programs are packed with proven skills and techniques that make an immediate impact on your bottom line

Mike also works as an executive coach with business owners and sales managers, and does complete phone script development.  To learn more about how Mike can help you and your team succeed, visit: www.MrInsideSales.com/managementtraining.htm

How to Get Bigger Sales

Every Monday morning, Peter King of Sports Illustrated publishes an online
recap of the previous NFL Sunday called, “Monday Morning Quarterback –
MMQ.”  This is required reading if you’re an NFL football fan, and even if
you’re not, it’s entertaining and filled with great insights.

In last week’s edition (10/2/11) I read this brief story in his Travel
Note of the Week section and it inspired today’s article on getting bigger
sales.  Here it is:

“Friday morning, 5:09 a.m. Back Bay Train Station, Boston. Man sitting
with a blanket outside the front of the station said to me, “Sir, do you
have five dollars?”

“Uh, well, I can give you a buck,” I said.

I reached in my pocket, took out two ones and handed them to the guy.

“Don’t have a five, huh?”

“I’m sure I do, but I’m giving you two.”

The guy grunted and gave me a withering look, and we both went about our
day.”

As soon as I read that article, I thought about how great a closer the guy
with the blanket was.  If he hadn’t asked for more – $5 here – he would
have gotten just the one dollar Peter was going to give him.  But because
he asked for more, he got DOUBLE the money he probably would have gotten!

This is the power of asking for more, and this is what you should be doing
in your sale as well.

Whatever you’re selling, you should be asking for the premium membership,
the biggest bulk quantity, the policy with all the bells and whistles,
etc.  Even if you don’t get it, you’ll often get a lot more than you would
have if you started lower.

This is without a doubt one of the easiest ways of making more money,
increasing your sales and becoming a top producer.  Remember, your
prospect is sold on your product, they’re in the buying arena, and they
have their check book out.  There is no better time of making MORE money.

And all you have to do is ask for it!

How to Get Bigger Sales

Every Monday morning, Peter King of Sports Illustrated publishes an online recap of the previous NFL Sunday called, “Monday Morning Quarterback – MMQ”.  This is required reading if you’re an NFL football fan, and even if you’re not, it’s entertaining and filled with great insights.

In last week’s edition (10/2/11) I read this brief story in his Travel Note of the Week section and it inspired today’s article on getting bigger sales.  Here it is:

“Friday morning, 5:09 a.m. Back Bay Train Station, Boston. Man sitting with a blanket outside the front of the station said to me, “Sir, do you have five dollars?”

“Uh, well, I can give you a buck,” I said.

I reached in my pocket, took out two ones and handed them to the guy.

“Don’t have a five, huh?”

“I’m sure I do, but I’m giving you two.”

The guy grunted and gave me a withering look, and we both went about our day.”

As soon as I read that article, I thought about how great a closer the guy with the blanket was.  If he hadn’t asked for more – $5 here – he would have gotten just the one dollar Peter was going to give him.  But because he asked for more, he got DOUBLE the money he probably would have gotten!

This is the power of asking for more, and this is what you should be doing in your sale as well.

Whatever you’re selling, you should be asking for the premium membership, the biggest bulk quantity, the policy with all the bells and whistles, etc.  Even if you don’t get it, you’ll often get a lot more than you would have if you started lower.

This is without a doubt one of the easiest ways of making more money, increasing your sales and becoming a top producer.  Remember, your prospect is sold on your product, they’re in the buying arena, and they have their check book out.  There is no better time of making MORE money.

And all you have to do is ask for it!

If you found this article helpful, then you’ll love Mike’s NEW book of phone scripts, “The Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts.”  Get over 220 Brand New Scripts to help you easily get past the gatekeeper, set appointments, overcome objections and close more sales. Visit:  http://www.mrinsidesales.com/booklaunch.htm and get over $400 of FREE Sales Bonuses by Jeffrey Gitomer, Tom Hopkins and more!!

Do you have an underperforming inside sales team?  Talk to Mike to see how he can help you and your team reach your revenue goals.  To learn more about Mike, visit his website: http://www.MrInsideSales.com

3 Ways to Avoid Call Reluctance

Do you suffer from call reluctance? No matter how experienced you are – or even how successful you are – picking up the phone to prospect, call leads back, and even call on existing clients can still be difficult.

If you find that your phone has seemed like a 200 lb weight lately – you know, hard to pick up – then follow the 3 suggestions below to get into action again:

#1) Believe it or not, call reluctance often starts the night before – usually Sunday night is the worst. Dread can begin building and by the time Monday comes it’s almost impossible to avoid dumping VM’s, answering emails, organizing leads – anything to avoid making those calls…

The Solution: Set a specific goal for the # of calls you’re going to make each day and then make that your #1 priority for your day. Once you make those calls, you’re free to do all the other things that are important and the pressure will be off you.

Start with a small goal, one you know you can accomplish and then work up from there. Success will build on itself and it will get easier and easier to make calls…

#2) Develop a script you’re comfortable with and then use it on each and every call. Nothing is more demoralizing or frustrating than trying to ad-lib your way through brush off’s, objections and negativity you get day after day. Being prepared with and using a script will give you confidence and help you build rapport quicker.

The Solution: If you want free scripts, then visit my blog. If you want even more word for word scripts, invest in my “Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts”.

#3) Change your expectations. Most sales reps start with the wrong mindset. Because they believe in their products and services, they think that everyone should and would be a deal – if they would only let them pitch them.

The Solution: Reset your expectations. Start by reminding yourself that regardless of how good your product is, you can only sell someone who is interested at that time and willing to listen to you. In other words, you’re only looking for buyers.

Once you adopt that attitude, it will be easy to make calls because when someone says no, you’ll be able to thank them for not wasting your time. You’ll now be able to move on to the next call and next possible buyer.

Bottom line – once you set an achievable call goal, write an effective script, and being calling looking only for the buyers, calling will get much easier.

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, if the Best Selling author of “The Real Secrets of the Top 20%” and “The Ultimate Book of Phone Scripts.”  Voted one of the most Influential Inside Sales Professionals two years in a row by The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, he is recognized as a leader in the industry.  Mike’s core selling skills webinars and onsite sales training programs are packed with proven skills and techniques that make an immediate impact on your bottom line

Mike also works as an executive coach with business owners and sales managers, and does complete phone script development.  To learn more about how Mike can help you and your team succeed, visit: www.MrInsideSales.com