Sales Managers must coach and manage sales reps who are not meeting expectations.  It is part of the job of any Manager, and it is critical to growing a sales team.  Accepting mediocre or poor performance affects the entire team and the culture of the sales organization.  Mediocrity is the enemy of success.

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Here are 6 tips to approach a coaching session around under-performance.

1. Don’t Delay. The longer the poor performance is allowed to linger, the stronger the perception is that the Sales Manager condones the behavior. Take action quickly. Schedule a meeting immediately.

2. Role Behavior. It is important to be clear about what behaviors and activities are not being accomplished.  However, the conversation is not about the person, just the role as a salesperson.  Do not make the conversation about the individual.  The under-performance is usually due to deficiencies in behaviors, activities or mindset.  Focus on the underlying reasons, not the personality.

3. Hidden Weaknesses. With our clients we use an Objective Management Group tool that evaluates a salesperson against 21 Critical Core Competencies.  We use this data to approach individual coaching for their unique set of strengths and weaknesses.  

For example, if a salesperson wants her customers to “like” them, and she also has trouble talking about money, the salesperson will have many challenges asking enough questions and the right questions. The OMG tools gives us clear advantages to understanding the Rep’s SalesDNA.

It is the hidden weaknesses that hold salespeople back.  The first step in correcting a weakness is being aware of it.  If the sales manager can identify the right leverage (think carrot), the sales manager has a chance to coach the sales rep to improvement.  The salesperson must have the desire and commitment to get better.

4. Measurable Outcomes. The salesperson must understand the expectation, i.e. 25 outbound calls each day. This is measurable and the expectation is clear.  25-30 is not.  The behaviors and activities are what the sales manager manages; not the people.  The outcomes must be reverse engineered from the goals.  The activities and behaviors need to be fair and realistic, and most importantly, agreed upon.

5. Focus. A coaching session is controlled by the sales manager. The sales manager cannot let the sales rep go off on tangents or talk about other matters.  The session is about the activities that must be met.  The sales manager must stay on point.

6. Follow Up. There must be covenants or agreements set with the sales rep to accomplish specific tasks within a time frame. It is essential that the sales manager follow up as agreed upon in the covenant.  You have to show up and create the accountability.  The follow up is critical to creating respect and the importance of the tasks.

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Coaching takes practice.  Coaching takes empathy, and discipline by the coach to be consistent.  Set realistic goals in small steps.  Small wins breed more wins.

Not every great salesperson will make a great sales manager.  CEOs must understand that the skills sets are not the same.  This article takes a look at the statistics on sales managers.


We offer a program that coaches sales managers to be better coaches. Many CEOs of mid-market companies don’t have a resource to help their front-line sales managers.  Our solution works with geographically diverse sales teams.  Your sales manager can delivery sales coaching and development to your entire sales organization with about 30-minutes a week face time with the team.  This allows a company to leverage a widely under-valued resource…the Sales Manager.

Just send us an Email with SalesStar in the body and we will get back to you with more information about our program to coach the Sales Manager and how you can delivery revenue growth.

Walter has been working successfully in Sales, Sales Development and Sales Management for over 31 years. He is passionate about developing sales professionals for CEOs &Business Owners. If you are frustrated and fed up with sales people who are not accountable, a sales team that is inconsistent and fail to meet objectives, and you want to fix it once and for all, we should have a business conversation. We bring science to creating high performance sales teams that on average grow over 32% in 12 months. walter@waltercrosby.com