How to Identify Causes of Poor Sales Performance

By Butch Bellah

As a manager, if someone on your sales team isn’t producing the desired results, you have to treat them just as you’ve trained them to handle a prospect:

  • Ask questions: Never assume you know why someone isn’t living up to expectations. Ask questions. Find out what’s going on that could be hampering your team member’s performance.

  • *Uncover the problem: Just as you would with a prospect, you have to find the pain before you can offer a solution. Something is keeping your salesperson from achieving their goals and objections; what is it?

  • Provide a solution: Your job is to assess the situation and offer a way to solve the problem. After you find out what’s keeping your salesperson from producing, you need to be prepared to offer a solution that works for both of you.

The only way you’re really going to find out what’s going on is to talk to someone face-to-face. Don’t depend on the grapevine or what you think is happening. Ask open-ended questions such as, “We both know you’re not reaching your stated goals and objectives, what’s keeping you from succeeding?”

Many times, someone underperforming doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong — if he did, he’d correct it himself. By asking questions about what he’s doing, how he’s doing it and maybe even observing him in action, you can discover where he’s drifted off track.

Don’t be quick just to dispense punishment or criticism until you talk to the person. Sometimes life creeps in and distracts even your top performers from producing in a manner you both know they’re capable of.

Never forget there are human beings behind all these numbers you look at every day. And those people have lives outside the four walls of your company.

Don’t be naive enough to believe you can solve everyone’s personal problems, but when you have someone who needs help, offer it if you can — but you’ve got to be aware he needs it. Never lose sight of your people.

You don’t have to wait for someone’s annual review to address a problem. Don’t think that the only time you can counsel your team or offer constructive criticism is during one time of year. If the need arises, respond to it. But, if you do, make a note of that consultation when you do your annual review so you have it on record as well.