How Top Sales Managers Coach Failing Reps

BY Kathy Crosett
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As a sales manager, you might have one or more reps who are struggling to make their numbers. You may have hired these reps because you felt they showed great promise. Or, you may recently have taken over responsibility for managing them, and you’re not sure how to help. Colleen Francis, writing for the Salesforce​.com blog, says the best managers use specific tactics to optimize rep performance. Here are the secrets.


There’s no substitute for spending time with reps who need extra help. You need to understand specifically how a rep works. As part of your discovery process, you’ll need to accompany her on more than one ride-​along. Once you observe her interactions with a prospect, you’ll be able to figure out what’s happening. Maybe she’s failing to listen to the prospects’ core problems, or she may be rushing into her closing pitch. There’s no way you’ll know without seeing for yourself, so schedule extra one-​on-​one meetings with these reps.

Product Knowledge

On Salesdrive​.com, an excellent column points out that low-​performing reps sometimes don’t understand what they are selling. While their sales skills may be top notch, they could be having trouble answering the prospects’ technical questions. It may be time to put your rep through another round of training on what your product or service does. Then, practice different customer scenarios designed to make the rep think on her feet about her responses in difficult situations. Reinforce that it’s okay if she doesn’t have the answer the second a prospect asks. Remind her that she can tell the prospect she’ll get back to him with an answer, and that this scenario is also an opportunity for another client touch point.


Some reps may lack confidence when it counts most – when prospects start raising objections. If you notice that some of your reps are failing to close sales, listen to what they are telling you. They may tell you that the prospect just isn’t ready to buy right now. That may be true, but try to get to the bottom of the situation. Ask probing questions. Find out if the prospect said she can’t afford the product or if she said she wants to wait until the new version comes out later this year. Once you have that information, you can illustrate the topic of objections to your rep, and give her tools to change the outcome. For example, maybe the prospect will agree to become a beta user for the new version, in exchange for a small discount.