How to manage a role change for underperforming sales manager?

I am the lead of a very small team (3) and in my 1st management role. One member of the team has been in his role for 1 year, but is underperforming.

This rep does not seem able to manage the end-to-end sales process and requires assistance to close deals (despite many years of experience).

As a SaaS product, running demos on Zoom is a large part of the sales process. But their demo and presentation skills are also weak.

This rep has had support after these problems were identified over the last 6 months. But there is still some way to go to reach the required standard.

The MD and I have agreed to keep this rep on as attitude and company fit are good. But adjust his role to focus solely on Lead Gen - as this seems to be a strength of this rep.

The salary and job title will not change but the commission structure will.

I am concerned that the rep may be de-motivated by this change.

Any tips on how to manage a change like this?

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    • 2
      Profile picture of Andrew Kirk
      ( 407 POINTS )
      1 year, 4 months ago

      Be really honest about why you’re making the change: “You’re a great team and attitude fit, but you’re results in the area of sales focus aren’t where you need to be. But, we don’t want to lose so we want to re-focus your efforts to where you’ll be most impactful.”

      • 0
        Profile picture of Mike Leader
        ( 531 POINTS )
        1 year, 4 months ago

        Andrew is spot on here. Not everyone is a fit for every role, but the right attitude (altitude) can be a great thing to work with. Managing him into a new & similar role will be easy where you and he can focus on his strengths.

        Keep it positive. “we’ve seen you be incredibly successful in doing X…and we want to encourage that and pay you around that instead.”

    • 0
      Profile picture of Savannah Downs
      ( 4.3k POINTS )
      1 year, 4 months ago

      Thanks for bringing this question to the community! Excited to see what others may suggest but in the meantime, give this article a quick read! https://www.saleshacker.com/sales-incentives/

    • 0
      Profile picture of Gustavo Hurtado
      ( 440 POINTS )
      1 year, 4 months ago

      It is important to be clear that not everyone is good for every role. Be clear on his/her strengts and the importance of his commitment to the company, assign clear and achivable objectives and maybe compensense for his/her results

    • 0
      Profile picture of Susan A. Enns
      ( 1.5k POINTS )
      1 year, 4 months ago

      Agree with everyone about being honest as to why the change is taking place. This is critical in order for the rep to transition into the new role.

      Next, you need to ensure that the rep knows how to be successful in the new role. What are the daily activites required for them to succeed. Do they know how many calls need to completed, how many fact finds, etc?

      If the answer is yes, they know what to do, then the second question you need to ask is if they know how. Does the sales representative know how to make a prospecting call? Do they know what questions to ask in a fact find, etc? If they don’t, then as the sales manager, you need show them.

      Often, the problem with lack of performance, is they don’t know how. For example, when I was in my first sales management role, there was a rep that was not performing well. He had been with the company in sales for many years but still was no where close to quota. So much so that senior management said I would need to let him go shortly after I took over the team.

      After working with him, I realized that he was the hardest working rep on the team. A real cold calling buzz saw! The probelm was that no one actually showed him the proper way to make calls, or how to follow up on the calls afterwards. We really started to work together on “the how”, so to speak. The end results was he was at 80% of plan in the first year and made President’s Club every year after that.

      The whole process taught me an important lesson that I never forgot: as a sales manager, when you point a finger at a sales rep telling them they were doing a bad job, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you.

      Hope this helps. Good luck!

    • 0
      Profile picture of CG5280
      ( 200 POINTS )
      1 year, 3 months ago

      Rather than just bringing the rep in and saying here is what is happening, I’d have an open conversation with him/her to find out what they enjoy, what they dislike, what they would love to be doing where they feel they would be the most effective, productive and fulfilled. If they are comfortable with you and feel you are genuinely interested in hearing their response they will be forthcoming. I had a similar situation with two sales people that reported to me. Because of those conversations I was better able to redeploy them where they would have the greatest impact for the organization. They both thrived in their new roles and I was able to fill their positions with candidates that were better suited to my sales needs.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Samantha Hembree
      ( 8.3k POINTS )
      1 year, 3 months ago

      Hey @georget1985!

      Sam Jacobs loved your question and answered it on the Sales Hacker Podcast!

      It’s at timestamp 14:34. 🙂 https://www.saleshacker.com/sales-mailbag-sam-jacobs-podcsast/

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