Being Preemptive Can Improve Sales Performance

April 16, 2019
Being Preemptive Can Improve Sales Performance

Are you a sales leader under high pressure to produce? Are you worried about recent sales performance?

If so, you’re probably doing a lot of heavy lifting to extract information from each salesperson on your team. It’s like pulling teeth.

You’re assessing a salesperson’s performance by feverishly examining their activities and results.

For the most part, this disempowers them and has a negative impact on sales performance.

If your team’s under pressure, it can and will influence every other part of your organization.

At the highest levels, results are typically reviewed by the company’s owners, shareholders, and the board.

If they’re satisfied, they generally leave the CEO and the management team alone.

If not, they demand explanations, rationalizations, justifications, and more.

This causes pressure to build along the chain of command which ends at the front lines – exactly where the salespeople are! They are the buffer between the rest of the organization and their clients.

Can you imagine how stressful that is? The salesperson is constantly reacting and responding to demands, which ultimately impacts their sales performance in a negative way.

If this is happening and causing angst, you must reset as soon as possible!

How do I “reset”?


Address your team directly. Decide who should do it. It could be the head of sales, head of the department, or even the head of the company. Come clean and apologize for what has happened and make sure that any messes you know of are cleaned up.

This is an example of a “reset” conversation:

“Lately our sales team has received a high number of requests for information and has been handed lots of direction. We’ve placed an enormous number of demands on you. We all want to operate with positive intent and sometimes it doesn’t come across that way.

As everyone knows, we’re falling short of our sales targets and this is causing a problem for the company.

In dealing with a problem, people, particularly those in a leadership role, instinctively want to know why? What happened? What are we doing to resolve it? Why can’t we fix it? etc.

We dig into people’s activities and make requests for more information. We tell the sales team to get more opportunities sourced and closed.

Then, we get frustrated because we still aren’t getting the results. So, we dig in some more, make even bigger demands, and so on.

Clearly this approach isn’t working. But what to do? It feels irresponsible for me to suggest we ease up or that we avoid holding each other accountable.

However, the pressure keeps building and too much pressure causes bad things to happen!

As your leader, I take responsibility for this. I also take responsibility for cleaning up the mess and for alleviating the pressure, which is what I’m going to do with you today.”

Being Preemptive Can Improve Sales Performance

I want you to consider a new route-of-action called the “preemptive approach,” where the salesperson constantly provides updates, even before anyone asks for them. This approach generates momentum and is empowering.

The salesperson becomes the conductor. Just like an orchestra can’t make music without the conductor, buying can’t be made without an empowered seller.

In this new model, all of the salesperson’s constituents are preemptively provided with the information they need. Rather than responding to demands, the salesperson places the demands.

In all communication, the salesperson uses action-oriented language, known as performatives.

These are some examples:

  • Promise
  • Request
  • Apology
  • Demand
  • Declaration
  • Assertion

Also, be sure to define some Key Performance Indicators that the sales team should be measured on.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Lead & Sales pipelines
  2. Desired opportunities
  3. Opportunity conversion to closed/won
  4. DEAL documents (follow up emails)
  5. Activity scorecards (e.g. outreach, meetings, proposals, next steps)
  6. Revenue
  7. Profit

Using this approach, you will prevent all pressure from bubbling up, support your sales team (as they deserve to be), and improve overall sales performance!

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