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  • Writer's pictureSsemujju Lewis E

How To Handle Underperforming Sales Reps

Business performance depends on monitoring and measuring productivity; for sales teams, every activity must be measured and tracked to achieve the desired results.


In business, metrics ensure that outcomes align with the business objectives. However, metrics also measure performance and help in planning, decision-making, tracking, analyzing, and correcting courses. Sometimes, things may not go according to plan. For example, the sales reps may be struggling to hit the targets.


According to The Tas Group, on average, 2/3 of all salesforce (67%) miss their Sales targets.


How To Handle Underperforming Sales Reps


1. Be empathetic

Because of underperformance and not hitting targets, salespeople panic and get anxious; in most cases, underperformance leads to job loss. The worry alone is enough to get a sales rep anxious and worried over what their manager will say, so it’s essential to approach the situation first with empathy and then with solutions.

  • One survey found that 55% of workers say a mental health issue has affected them since the pandemic began.

  • 41% of workers admit they feel burnt out, drained, or exhausted.


2. Educate

Most salespeople are motivated by the chance to learn more about their industry, customers, products or services and other subjects that will help them do better at work and in life.


Encourage them to learn more by building time and expectations into their schedules to attend virtual and offsite educational events (not just events where they’d sell). Steer them to relevant webinars and podcasts. Give them books.


3. Offer financial incentives

Monetary incentives could be the way to go if you want a simple way to boost sales team motivation. These could include spot bonuses, contests, or higher commissions. You could even adjust compensation plans completely for top performers. Rewards are a great way to power your team through periods of low motivation.



Offering a financial incentive is a great way to impact your team immediately — but don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s all they care about. We'd be lying if we said money doesn't still matter, but it isn't all that matters. People have walked away from tremendous compensation packages because they didn’t feel appreciated or valued in the ways that matter to them.


4. Identify the root of the problem and offer ways to solve it.

After identifying which of your reps is struggling, sitting down with them to identify why is crucial. Here are some common causes for rep underperformance:

  • The sales representative is experiencing a problem outside of work impacting their performance.

  • The sales rep struggles with organization and time management skills, negatively impacting their ability to complete deals.

  • They lack one or more basic skills that are necessary for sales.

  • They’re disinterested in learning the skills needed to succeed as a salesperson.

  • They might mistakenly believe that they already have the skills to succeed.

5. Take Action

Unfortunately, when taking action, managers often feel like their options are limited to living with the status quo, putting the salesperson on a performance plan, or terminating the salesperson. In reality, they have a much broader set of options, including empowering, sales training, sales coaching, counseling, discipline, and (when necessary) termination.

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