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How to narrow the sales performance gap?

8 minutes read

If you analyze your sales team and based on each individual’s sales performance spread your salespeople across a spectrum of performance from left to right, you’ll find that

  • Approximately 20% of the people will get placed at the extreme left. These are your star performers.
  • Approximately 10% will get placed at the extreme right. These are the low performers
  • And the remaining 70% in the middle are your average sales reps

The star performers are highly enthusiastic about their job and they have the capability to easily exceed the targets that you set. So, you don’t really need to be concerned about these guys.

However, people hovering in the mid-tier or low-tier might need some help to meet their goals.

An all-star roaster doesn’t mean seamless sales

Companies usually attempt to solve their stalled sales growth problem by hiring star sales players.

But this isn’t a very feasible solution because of the reasons stated below:

  • Sales is a highly competitive field, and only a few top-tier salespeople are looking for a job at any given time.
  • A rep shines the best where they get the balance between comfort and challenge. So a star employee who exceeded their quota regularly in their old company will not automatically perform well when they transfer to yours.
  • What’s more, you need to compete with other companies who are also looking to attract the best talent for their business.

So, instead of getting more help from outside, focus on developing the existing talent. The best way to develop a high-performing team is by growing the potential of the middle-tier and low-tier sales representatives.

In this blog, you’ll learn,

  • How to uplift your average sales reps
  • And how to reduce the performance gap between your star sales reps and average sales reps

Ways to narrow the sales performance gap

1. Analyze performances and identify the people who need help

The first and the most important step to narrowing the sales performance gap in your sales team is to analyze the performance of each team member.

Today, you have got various tools available in the market which automatically process the performance data and give you an accurate and intuitive analysis of each rep’s sales performance.

One such tool is SmartWinnr. SmartWinnr integrates seamlessly with your CRM system, pulls in the sales performance data automatically, and then analyzes and produces intuitive reports of the sales performance of your team.

Now, once you have the data pertaining to each rep’s performance then you need to identify the people whose performance needs to be improved. Then Schedule a one-on-one with those people so that you can talk to them and

  • Understand the problem from their perspective
  • And understand how would they want to receive help to improve themselves

2. Conduct one-on-ones

Next, conduct meaningful one-on-one sessions with those people whose performance needs to be improved.

In these one-on-ones, make sure that you have a genuine and purposeful conversation. You can use Coaching Templates here to keep everything structured and focused.

In the meeting, make sure that you are ready with the performance scorecards and analytics of the reps. Based on that performance data, discuss

  • The areas where they are good
  • The areas where they are lagging behind
  • The reason why they are lagging behind
  • What are some of the major issues or obstacles that they face?
  • How can you help them to improve their performance?
  • What is their area of interest?
  • What would motivate them to push themselves to work hard?

Once you talk to your reps and get these details, you can then go ahead and create customized action plans for each one of the reps.

3. Ensure coaching is embedded in the routine

Once you have held the one-on-one meeting with your sales reps and agreed upon an action plan to help them improve, the next step is to provide ongoing training and/ or coaching to them.

This helps you to instill in them,

  • The right knowledge
  • The right skills
  • And good habits

And, as a result of this, you will be able to improve their performance

So, make sure that you,

  • Schedule a training session once every 3 months so that you can upskill your reps regularly and keep them up-to-date with the latest knowledge and skills
  • Schedule 1-on-1 coaching sessions every week to
    • Review the deals in play
    • Review the opportunities stalled
    • Complete a thorough pipeline review
    • And conduct role-plays to improve their sales conversations

This way you can ensure

  • A pinpointed and effective knowledge transfer
  • Improved sales performance across the board in the sales team
  • And effective management of the pipeline

Once you talk to your reps and get these details, you can then go ahead and create customized action plans for each one of the reps.

Pro-tip: Also make sure that you identify the best practices of the top performers and replicate that behavior across the team

4. Organize peer-to-peer mentorship programs

If there is one thing that is more effective than the manager’s coaching, it is peer-to-peer mentorship.

A powerful peer-to-peer mentorship helps to significantly boost the sales performance of your mid-tier and low-tier employees. This is because your sales reps will be more comfortable and receptive to receiving lessons from their colleagues with whom they share a good bond. This enables them to learn in a pressure-free environment.

So, identify the folks performing exceptionally well and make it a point to encourage them to collaborate with the reps who could use help (those who are stuck in the middle and low ranks)

Also, if the top performers are mentoring their peers, it truly gives mentees more individualized attention. And when it’s done the right way, this type of mentorship boosts performance across the board with shared best practices.

In order to get the most out of peer mentorship, when it comes to narrowing the sales performance gap, it’s important to note that these meetings need to have just as much structure as 1:1s with managers. Providing top performers with coaching questions to ask their mentees on a regular basis will be necessary for optimal results.

Everyone’s needs and learning styles will obviously be different. But by consistently holding these mentorship meetings both the mentors and mentees will get used to each other and then they will be able to drive the most impactful sales performance coaching session.

Pro-tip: Just like any other employee, your top performers or mentors also need the motivation to carry out the mentorship program effectively. So, make sure that you gamify the mentorship program and regularly incentivize the mentors for every progress that their mentees make.

5. Foster a warm and nurturing environment for everyone

Peer mentorship from top performers is only made possible when a company culture is in good shape. There must be an environment in place for actionable feedback rather than subjective criticism.

With so much visibility into everyone’s work, you need to foster an empathetic company culture more than ever before. ‘Successful coaching that leads to improved performance’ will only work when everyone feels safe and supported.

If tools that make performance visible are just used to alienate folks at the bottom of the leaderboards, how will that help anyone right?

So, there needs to be a sense that visibility is there for support because everyone wants to see everyone succeed. Visibility should be seen or used as a punishment by anybody.

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Published on Mon Jun 20 2022

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