If you are a sales manager, at one point in your career you will have had to deal with underperforming sales reps. Whether it has happened once or is a repeated pattern, it’s time, to be honest with yourself. Today on the Funnel we discuss how to handle these underperformers in a way that benefits both you and your company. As always if you have any questions please schedule a free 30-minute consultation and I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.


What we’re going to cover:

  • Be honest with yourself
  • Focus on what to do
  • Create a plan
  • Make a decision


Be honest with yourself


Are they too far gone?

“We have to be realists when we’re dealing with underperforming sales reps. Are they too far gone? Is this somebody worth saving?”

How much have you or the company contributed to their demise?

“Did you hire the right person for the job? Did they receive the proper onboarding? Do they know how to do the things they need to do in order to be successful? Do they know what the expectations are from you and the company?”


Can they make it?

“Can they make it through this and become the kind of sales rep that you think they can become? What should they become for you and your company?”


Read the room

“Read the room, look around the room, is this somebody that makes a contribution to the team. Do they provide value to us? Do they contribute in meetings to help other people? Are they just struggling in a certain area in sales that you can fix? And if they are somebody that you want to keep around because they add value then they might be worth it.”


Don’t be a superhero

“Managers want to be the superhero and save the day. Whether that’s on the opportunities with the sales rep, or keeping them around. But the superhero thing is not really where you want to spend your time, it’s not something you want to do for somebody that’s too far gone. You’re not proving anything to anybody by trying to keep around somebody that doesn’t fit or doesn’t belong in your organization.”

Focus on what to do


What to do

“Everybody is different so you have to learn about them, figure out their personality, how they learn and how they accept criticism. So when I say focus on what to do isn’t about what you’re doing wrong, it’s about what I want you to do to make it right.”


How to do it

“Instead of saying to somebody you aren’t doing it right, I think your best bet in dealing with underperforming sales reps is to show them the way on what to do and how to do it.”

“Instead, try saying ‘I would like to see it done this way’ or  ‘the best way to do this next time you find yourself in this situation is’ or ‘try this on for size’. You’re guiding and coaching, and helping them, not just putting them down.”


Sales training

“Absolutely provide sales training. Okay maybe they’re struggling with the closing, one of the things you can do is put them back through some of the training that you’ve provided. Maybe it’s just that one single area they need help with so by providing the support, and help they need in the sales training you’re helping them succeed.”


Focus on area of concern

“If it’s that your pipeline is not big enough, focus on that area of concern. Do the training, maybe work through some role plays in your coaching sessions if you haven’t already done that, and get them to the place where they need to be.”


Create a plan


What’s the problem?

“Step one is to identify the problem. What is the problem?”



“Next, I’m going to pull a schedule together for you, and this is the schedule we’re going to abide by. I’ve seen the problems, we’ve tried to work through it, it hasn’t gotten any better, so we’re going to put you on a schedule.”


Regular meetings and Benchmarks

“We’re going to schedule regular meetings and benchmarks, just focusing on this, working it, explaining the outcomes. If you come through this, this is what happens, if you don’t, this happens.”

What happens if they don’t meet these benchmarks?

“If someone doesn’t put in the work or make the meetings then that is somebody that doesn’t care and doesn’t want to get any better. They just want to drag it out as long as they can because they’re collecting a paycheck. That is someone you don’t want on your team.”


Work improvement

“Create that plan and put a little bit more detail on it. “here’s the schedule, here’s the regular meetings, here are the benchmarks you absolutely have to achieve by this time frame and if you don’t achieve them here are the consequences. For those actions.” and sign off on it. Then the consequences are, you don’t have a job and they know that.”


Make a decision


Go or no go

“If they’re not improving, they’re getting worse, or they show no interest, then you have to decide, do I continue to go or no go here? Do I continue on with this?”


Worth the effort

“Is this worth the effort? Or do I put them on a work improvement plan and see what happens next? Or if someone is on a work improvement plan and it’s not working, do I let them go?”


Do the right thing

“In some cases, it’s just about doing the right thing. Because most people know if they’re not a real fit. And they’re suffering because they’re underperforming, their peers know it, they know it, their family knows it, they’re just having a difficult time. And they’re not happy, and they’re never going to be happy in this type of job.”

“So, the right thing and the best thing to do is to let them go. In the end, you’re doing what’s right for them, you’re doing what’s right for the company, for the team, and you’re doing what’s right for you as a manager.”


Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.
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