In his book “Selling Is Everyone’s Business: What It Takes to Create a Great Salesperson,” author Steve Johnson points out that consistently low-performing sales people have a negative impact on staff morale, and consume valuable resources and training time that could be put to better use. Realizing the situation exists is one thing; doing something about it is another. Whether out of a desire to avoid confrontation or uncertainty over how to handle the situation, some managers tend to let poor performers continue to under-whelm. Now, Johnson’s book offers nine tips for dealing with the situation and restoring balance to the team:
1. Make sure you have a strong bench at all times. Never lose sight of the ABR Principle—Always Be Recruiting. The company with five strong performers on its team is less inclined to endure a low performer than the company with few options except to keep a warm body around; even if that body hasn’t sold anything in weeks. I
2. Prepare for the worst. Decide ahead of time when you’re going to cut bait. There will always be some low performers, and you don’t want to keep them around any longer than 60 to 90 days. Their demise serves as a warning to others that staves off complacency. Check with HR to see what you need to do to start documenting and forging your paper trail.
3. Go into your first “low performer” meeting armed with concrete data. Know exactly where the low performer stands in terms of sales numbers. Regular use of a public scoreboard not only sparks healthy competition, it lets people know exactly where they stand at all times.
4. Determine whether the problem is skill or will by asking open-ended questions. For example: Why do you think your performance is so low? Where have your challenges been lately? What made you come to work here? What has changed since then? What are your personal goals? The answers will establish whether the person simply isn’t good at the job or good at the job, but not doing enough.