We’ve all struggled with the question of what to do with underperforming sales contributors.  There’s the old school method – march them to the firing line.  There’s the HR method – provide a performance review and a “get well or get out plan”.  And occasionally, we see the potential in someone and set a course for nurturing and training the individual towards success in sales.

I read a recent blog entry in the Sales and Sales Management Blog (WARNING: disgusting image in post) that really got me thinking.  The author describes 3 types of underperformers … 2 types you get rid of, but one, the “Slow Developers”, that bear consideration for growth and development.  The author postulates that Slow Developers should not be marched to the exit doors and provides some good advice for helping these sales underachievers.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could spot Slow Developers early in their tenure, with an understanding of exactly where in the sales process they require training and nurturing?  Can your existing CRM system help you understand where training and development issues exist?  Consider this graphic from Salesvue’s sales performance measurement reporting features:

Rep A is more experienced, converting 10% of leads contacted to the call to action – an appointment.  Rep B is less experienced, but is following his manager’s advice to drive a high volume of activity.  However, Rep B is struggling with appointment conversion (3%) and qualifies an excessive amount of leads as “Not A Fit” (31%).

In one of my past sales management roles, there’s a strong possibility that I would have fired Rep B.  We did not have the ability to track Total Activities and Conversation Results at this level of detail, so if there was a lack of appointments (low conversion %), we would shoot.

But if you had the insight provided by a sales tracking system like Salesvue, you could get real time information on your team’s ability to operate at the various stages of your sales pipeline development process.  You could identify outliers on the top and bottom ends (stack rank your team), and determine sales training needs for underperformers well before marching them to the firing line.  This is really important if you want to stop tracking revenue (a lagging indicator) as your primary sales metric.

Perhaps some value proposition training would help our struggling Rep B increase appointment conversions.  Providing objection handling training and role playing might impact the “Not A Fit” qualification problem.

Here are the real world results of applying this insight to sales development efforts:

  • Appointment conversion rate (10%) matches senior rep’s level
  • Rep B higher volume produces 50% more appointments at same conversion rate (21 vs. 14) … high volume can mean higher quality sales prospecting
  • “Not A Fit” qualification rate reduced dramatically to 2% and 48 more prospects added to the sales funnel

Can your CRM system provide this level of sales management insight for the Slow Developers?