This February, we'll be talking about solving sales problems and improving sales performance. We have a lot of ideas planned to share strategies and best practices for sales improvement.
Before you invest a lot of time and energy in improving your sales team, though, it can be helpful to take a step back and think – do you have the right people on your team?
As Jim Collins points out in his books on performance, it's critical to have the right people on the bus. Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether your sales performance problems are mostly related to having the wrong people on your team.
- Is most or all of your revenue coming from a few key players?
- Do you see factions or cliques who are not aligned with the company’s sales strategies or choose to “go their own way”?
- Are some or all salespeople consistently missing their quotas?
- Are some or all members of the sales team consistently refusing to follow processes and use tools?
- Are some salespeople doing the bare minimum?
If sales performance problems are mostly related to the people on your team, you'll need to take quick corrective measures – or find different people. Firing the whole team and replacing them is unrealistic. Instead, consider this approach.
Step 1: Analyze the team to identify A, B, C, and D players.
A players – These are your definite keepers. What makes them A players is that they not only produce the highest revenue numbers, but they also lead by example. They are bought into selling the company’s preferred way and are adopting and using the sales processes that you developed with and for them.
B players – These are solid performers, but need continued evaluation, accountability, and support to improve sales performance.
C players – These are people who consistently fall under goal. They belong on a performance plan and need to be held accountable to executing against that plan on an ongoing basis.
D players – These can be toxic personalities or have passed the point of no return. They can poison the culture of a sales team and do untold damage to your reputation among your customers in their territories. They do not belong on your team.
Note: D players are not necessarily the lowest-performing members of your team. High-performing toxic personalities can be just as dangerous.
Step 2: Make changes to improve sales performance.
If you identified any D players, implement termination procedures as necessary. For the Bs and Cs, develop templates for performance plans and conduct formal evaluations based on your team analysis. Be clear about your goals and your desire to see the entire team succeed.
It's critical to be clear about your expectations – if you haven't set performance standards before, your salespeople might not realize they're falling short of expectations.
After you've set expectations, continue to coach your team and hold them accountable to the expectations you've set. Track sales performance and monitor leading indicators to look for improvement.
Step 3: Set yourself up for the future.
Develop a strong hiring and onboarding process that ensures that you find the right candidates in the future and bring them up to speed quickly.
Hiring the wrong salesperson is incredibly costly. If you get the right people on the bus through a strong interviewing and selection process, you'll be in good shape.
If you need help, check out our resources on hiring and onboarding salespeople:
If you feel your sales problems aren't just a result of problems with your sales team, check out our resource on Troubleshooting Sales Problems for 5 other areas to evaluate.