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.


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?

Sales 2013
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 31, 2013
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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