What do salespeople really want from their managers? Is there a magic code, number, or sign? Or is it just as simple as communication, proper planning, and knowing how to deal with underperforming reps. Today on the funnel we discuss what you can do to figure out what your salespeople really want from their managers. 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:

  • Communication.
  • Plan
  • Underperformers.
  • What you can do.





Daily, Weekly, Monthly.

“What they want is that daily, weekly, monthly, communication, not what are you going to sell for me what are you going to close today? But that communication that clearly explains to them exactly what it is you’re looking for.”


“So, if you have a daily stand up call you need to be very specific about what that stand up call is about, the purpose of it, their contribution, your contribution, etc. Then you need to live up to that standard, that’s part of the communication process. If you skip the meeting 4 times a week that’s not really a stand-up call, it’s a joke. They want to know that you’re going to live up to that commitment.”


What criteria are you using to evaluate their performance?.

“In the past it was simple, hit your number everybody is happy, come 1% below that number we have a problem. It’s not really evaluating performance. You could land a big deal that fell in your lap and hit the number but are you really performing at a high level that is sustainable for the next year and the year after that? So, they want to know the criteria for success.”

What does success look like?

“They want you to clearly communicate what that looks like not only for them but for the company, for you. They want to know that there’s a synergetic relationship there, that it all fits together into pieces.”


‘Keep doing what you’re doing’

“Keep doing what you’re doing is not evaluating performance and telling them what good looks like. Given free rein in that environment a lot of things can happen and it’s scary not only for sales reps but for managers. Why? Because you never know if you’re really actually doing what you’re supposed to be doing or if they’re satisfied with performance.”


Communicate your support. 

“They want to know if you have their back, if you support them, they want to know their place in the world. So, communication is key here. Not only daily, weekly, monthly but all the time for the benefit of everyone involved.”




What NOT to do. 

“You start the beginning of the year and you tell them to go and tell you how they’re going to hit their quota. They come back with 2-3 pages of whatever it is they write, you review it, you give it insight, and off you go. That’s not a plan.”


Achieve the target.

“They want to know the companies plan to achieve the target, what are we going to do, what the program? What does it look like and what do we need to do to be successful?”

“Oftentimes management just looks at the rep and says here’s the target, you write the plan, you come up with a way to get it done. But that’s not really what they want, they want to work together with you to solve that problem. They want to make sure you’re on the same page because you could be heading left and they could be heading right. Make sure that it makes sense and that it’s right.”


Skills development.

“They want to know that you have a plan for their skills development. How are they going to get better? What are you doing to do to help them? What is the company and what are you going to do as a manager? That’s your job.”


Career development.

“What’s the career plan? What’s the plan for their success? And how are you going to help them with that development? This is what success looks like, we’re going to help you with your skill development, and your career.

I want to know what you want to be when you grow up, I want to know what you want to be in this company. Do you want management? Do you want account role? Or do you want account management? I don’t know so I need to know that from you.”


Personal plan.

“They want to know if you’re going to work with them to create a plan for their development, a personal plan for their success, short term, long term, can you do that? Do you have that? Do you have those meetings? That’s what they want from you, they want communication.”



Ignore the problem.

“Most sales managers will ignore the under-performer problem if their hitting their targets. If the sales manager is hitting their target and they have one or two people underperforming on the team they’re less likely to do anything about that because it’s painful. “

Oatmeal is better than no meal

“Worst case scenario somebody has to leave. What does that mean for the manager? It means they have to hire somebody, they have to go out and find somebody, hire them, train them, get them up to speed, and wait for them to be successful. And in some of their minds oatmeal is better than no meal.”



Wait too long.

“So, they wait, they ignore the problem, and they wait too long. There is no accepted standard performance and every sales rep sitting in that bull pen knows it.”

“They look at you, they see the underperformer, and they’re like ‘Why?’ Why am I busting my hump, why am I following the rules, why am I doing everything I’m supposed to do to be successful in this company and I have to sit next to somebody that’s performing at 60%?”



“Why would you ignore those problems? They want you to deal with it swiftly. You have somebody that’s not performing, they go into a performance improvement plan and boom. The objective with a performance improvement plan is to get better, to overcome whatever issues you’re having and become a productive member of the sales society. If you don’t you’re gone. “


What you can do.


“If you haven’t really thought about this, you haven’t done the homework, the research, you’re not managing underperformers, you’re not communicating well, you don’t have a plan for their success, you don’t have a plan for their career, there’s a number of things you can do.”


Stop reading your own press clipping.

“First, stop reading your own press clippings. Just because you’re at your number or exceeding the number doesn’t mean you’re a successful manager. Oftentimes managers are taking credit for things that are being done around them.

If you’re over your number that’s the time you should be doing something. You should be working very hard to make that happen, that’s where you should be digging deep.”


Create a survey.

“Answer some open and honest feedback. One way to do that is through a survey. Create a survey with close ended questions, open ended questions, and make it an honest survey. This means no repercussions. They can type it, print it, and fill it out online. Just make it completely honest and open where you’re not trying to figure out who said what.”

Honest survey.

“This is a way that you can survey your team to find out what you can do better. Don’t take it personally, just take it for what it is. Make the adjustments, and if you have a good relationship with the team you could sit down with them and have an open conversation. What’s working, what’s not? How can I help you? Encourage that conversation.”


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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