How to Remotely Coach Your Poorly Performing Sales Rep

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are you looking for a better way to remotely coach your poorly performing sales rep? If you had this problem before the COVID-​19 crisis started, your job may now be a lot harder. The bad news is that your management problem isn’t going to magically disappear. The good news is that using an automated coaching system can help you improve the team member’s performance.

Setting Expectations

You may have asked this sales rep many times to improve outcomes by taking specific actions such as using the CRM system. And you’ve probably been given answers (excuses) that range from ‘it takes too long’ to ‘the system is buggy.’

Before you ask this rep to be accountable, think about your interactions with other team members. Are your expectations the same for each team member? Or are you asking this rep to do more than everyone else because you suspect their spending work time on something else? If that’s the case, be direct with your rep. Ask them what’s going on in their personal life and make any accommodations that you can. If they need to shift to a part-​time role temporarily, talk with your HR folks about how to make that happen.

After you ensure that you’re holding your underperforming rep to the same standards as everyone else, start addressing their complaints. The goal is to remove any excuses they’re falling back on and help them develop more efficient work habits. If they believe entering data into the CRM system is taking too long, sign them up for additional training. If they continue to experience problems with the system, use a screen-​sharing session to get to the root of the problem they’re having. 

Specific Feedback

It’s never easy to give corrective feedback. The experts tell us the rate of positive to negative feedback should be about four to one. Every time you have to ask your employee to stop making so many mistakes in the CRM, you should find four other ways to praise what they’re doing — whether it’s a great job on a sales call or helping out a team member with a technical question on the product they’re selling.

However, you don’t want your underperforming employee to miss the message you are communicating, which is that they must do a better job. You can start a feedback session by outlining what they’re doing right. Perhaps they completed a training session and that’s a step in the right direction. Then, you need to coach them on what they should do specifically. In this case, tell them they must enter five complete records every day in the CRM. When they agree to do this, make a note in your coaching system. Later, you and your team member can refer to the commitments that were made.

Maintain Contact with Your Poorly Performing Sales Rep

The remote work situation many of us are operating in now results in some employee drift. The lack of the regular office routine could be negatively impacting engagement for everyone, but especially for your poorly performing sales rep. Add short appointments to your calendar to check in multiple times each week with this employee. The additional contact may be helpful, especially if this individual requires a high level of personal interaction to stay engaged. The extra attention and time you direct to the team member may help them feel that you’re trying hard to help them succeed. And, if they are coachable, you’ll see an improvement in their performance.