At some stage of their career, sales managers will be set the challenging task of managing an underperforming sales team. As multiple factors can influence sales behaviour and performance, often times managers will struggle to find out the underlying causes of poor sales results.
A lack of motivation, inadequate compensation and incentives, lack of sales skills or the right technology, an inefficient pipeline and process design are among the most common reasons why sales team don't meet their expectations.
The first step to get a sales team back on track is getting to the root cause of the problem. It’s advisable to do a full assessment of your complete sales team to identify what each member do well and not so well. Having a complete understanding of the main reason of the problem will help you to identify the right strategy to solve the lack of performance.
At CPM we have identified 5 tips that will help you when managing an underperforming sales team:
1.- Incentivize and recognize your team
There is no better way to improve the morale of a sales team than by recognizing their achievements on a regular basis. Recognition is a powerful motivator and managers should praise the good practices of their staff. In order to maximize the benefit of recognition, it's essential to tailor the rewards and motivators according to each person.
Identify what is the best way to show each of your team members how valuable and important their work and performance are to the business. It could be something as simple as giving a “high five” when they reach their goals, display a live feed at the office with all the deals closed and the people involved. Furthermore, encourage everyone on your team to become champions of another’s success. Ask them to let you know when they see that another member achieved a success and then share it with your group.
2.- Analyse your sales cycle
An inefficient pipeline or sales process can be the reason behind the lack of performance of your sales team. Analysing the sales cycle by stage is as important as assessing your team members. This step will help you to identify potential pain points and obstacles which may be preventing more sales to get closed. Some key metrics that are crucial to review when evaluating the sales cycle are stage by stage progress and the conversion rate.
3.- Coaching is key
The role of the manager of a sales team is closer to a mentor, coach and enabler, especially when managing an underperforming team. Coaching helps to build confidence and drive results. That’s why highly effective sales managers never lose the opportunity to give feedback to their sales staff in order to make sales representatives perform better.
4.- Training matters
A lack of product knowledge or understanding of the sales techniques can have a negative impact on your team’s performance. Training your sales team on your product, your competition and the most effective sales techniques are essential to the success of your team. Training should be provided on a regular basis and it should be part of the culture. Investing in the professional development of your sales experts would only benefit your organization and allow your salespeople to hit the targets faster and better.
5.- Build dialogue, extinguish monologue
Communication is a key element of any high-performance team. Encourage a two-way communication, this will generate more exchange of ideas and new insights. When people feel comfortable communicating, you can easily identify opportunity areas to improve the performance of your team. Invite members of your team to constantly ask questions about the processes and suggest ideas that can help to improve processes and stimulate dialogue among all. As there is no magical "one-size-fits-all-solution” in sales, make sure that you understand the individual strengths of your team and keep in mind that different people need to be managed differently. Managers have the task to recognise what motivates each of their team members.
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