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The Root Cause of Failing Sales Reps (And How to Help)

Almost without exception, the root of cause of failing sales reps is the same: too few opportunities (we’ll stick with “opportunities” here instead of the many root causes of this root cause). Here’s what to do to help.

More—and More Effective—Prospecting

Most failing sales reps could easily improve their performance by increasing the amount of time they spend prospecting for new business. This is why, despite there being so much resistance to managing activity, sales managers ask for more activity; they know that increased activity is what is necessary. But more prospecting by itself isn’t the right answer.

Much of the time the reason failing salespeople don’t prospect is because they aren’t good at it, they haven’t been trained, and they aren’t confident. It’s not enough to just require more activity. You also have to improve the salesperson’s effectiveness when prospecting. This means more training, more development, and more coaching. It also means more tools, including planned dialogues and an effective campaign that they can execute against.

If you really want to help a failing salesperson, you need to be demanding when it comes to your expectations around prospecting. But you also have to provide the help.

More Opportunity Coaching

Improved prospecting results in more acquired opportunities. But failing sales reps can’t afford to lose opportunities while they don’t have a healthy pipeline. They need more coaching around the opportunities they do create.

This starts with preparing the struggling salesperson to create value during every sales interaction. It also means helping them through the sales process, sometimes making calls with them and helping manage the opportunity.

If you are going to help a poor performer become successful, you have to make the investment of time in coaching them through opportunities. This sometimes means you have to give them more time than you would like to—or more time than you can easily afford. But if they are willing to do the work and willing to grow, the investment of time in coaching pays dividends later.

Improving opportunity acquisition quickly improves poor performing sales rep’s numbers. It’s worth the investment.

Questions

What would improve a failing salesperson’s results?

How do you help an opportunity-starved salesperson?

Why isn’t activity alone the best way to improve results?

How do you ensure that all opportunities are pursued effectively?


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Comments

comments

  • http://www.5toolgroup.com/ Jay Oza

    Unless managers are willing to teach by doing instead of telling, it is not going to work.

    Unfortunately, some managers are not good at what ails a sales rep’s performance and are often very slow to react in bringing in a coach to help the rep. They would rather go through a new hire which is more costly but provides them some cover for a while.

  • marc zazeela

    Anthony,

    Many people would disagree that sales is a game of numbers. To the extent that the numbers are the right ones, it is definitely true.

    Cheers,
    Marc

  • Marius Fermi

    Without doubt, activity is the only way sales reps will see any form of success however that same activity needs to be laser targeted. We’ve seen way too many sales reps without structure just jumping into calls and emails searching for prospects, in the process giving them and their company a bad name.

  • http://SocialMediaIsMyMiddleName.com ScottAllen

    What if the salespeople aren’t doing any prospecting — they’re working leads being generated by marketing? Where would you first look for the problem / solution in that case?

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      That question is going to get it’s own post, Scott!

      • http://SocialMediaIsMyMiddleName.com ScottAllen

        Great — looking forward to it!



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