Six ways to get your sales reps back above quota

As I prepared to head off to the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in Minneapolis next week I was cleaning out the email inbox and came across a digest with a post from Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing. Phenomenal stuff Matt!

Since our audience next week will be Sales Leadership folks, I wanted to guest post this timely article written by Matt.

Six ways to get your sales reps back above quota

In any given month, nearly every sales organization has someone under quota. Sales is a difficult job, and even the best reps have bad months or quarters. But if you have a rep in a prolonged slump, here are six things you can do to help get them back on track and above quota.

Focus on the numbers

Start with a bottoms-up review of their pipeline, and be as empirical as you can. This template for a weekly meeting with inside sales reps, for example, demonstrates how you can start with closed business, work back through pending opportunities, and continue to get more granular and tactical until you find a specific area for deep dive and improvement.

Focus on what they can control
It’s not productive to complain about lead volume, lead quality, market conditions, outdated collateral, or any of a myriad things outside of your and the rep’s control. Instead, focus on what they can control, starting immediately and every day. Activity volume, outbound calls, crispness of presentation, lead follow-up, etc.

Compare current and previous habits and performance measures
Athletes in a slump review video of themselves when they were “in a zone” to identify what they were doing particularly well (and may have stopped doing or adjusted since then). Salespeople can do the same thing, and you as a manager can help them. Look at their performance habits when they were at the top of their game. Not just funnel metrics but attendance records, follow-up rates, presentation close rates, etc. Figure out the right mix of measures for your business and sales floor, and look for what’s changed.

Peer shadowing

Have a trusted colleague shadow the rep for an hour or so - watch their activity, listen to their calls, sit in on a new presentation. It’s often difficult to pinpoint on our own what we’re doing wrong, but someone else (who isn’t living it minute-to-minute) can often spot these things quickly - especially when they’re filling a similar role next to you.

Deal walkthroughs
Take a particular opportunity in the slumping rep’s pipeline and walk through it in detail. Where did it come from, what are the prospect’s needs, how are they qualified, what are the next steps or roadblocks to moving forward. Sometimes this level of detail can help identify something that can not only kickstart that particular opportunity, but give the rep the confidence and momentum they need to push back up to their normal performance levels.

Evaluate effort, attitude and drive
Great salespeople go through slumps. But there’s a difference between someone who’s giving it everything they’ve got and those who are mailing it in. Look for signs that your reps might have a decline in motivation, initiative or passion for what they’re doing. The source of this could be inside or outside the organization, but either way it’s affecting their performance. Help identify and resolve any issues as best you can (without crossing any HR lines, of course).

Use positive reinforcement & constructive feedback
If a slumping rep isn’t trying hard and isn’t responding to the above steps, they might be on their way out the door. In every other case, they feel awful about their numbers. They know the organization isn’t happy with them, and they’re equally unhappy with the paychecks they’re taking home. Have some sympathy and empathy for these individuals, and make it clear that you’re equally committed to helping get them back on track.

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