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Common Sales Performance Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

by Rachel Clapp Miller /

string_lightbulb_resized.jpgEnabling your front-line sales managers to be great sales coaches is one of the most effective things you can do as a sales executive.

Many sales organizations are dealing with the same type of challenges: a lack of consistency in executing the sales process, limited line-of-sight for managers to understand what's going on with opportunities or territories, and reps spending too much time not selling.

Here are some tips for navigating among the most common sales performance obstacles. 

Give Your Managers the Tools to Coach

Without a vision and coaching strategies, you can't implement an improvement program that optimizes performance. Opportunity reviews, role plays and refresher coaching sessions are great ways for your front-line managers to drive effectiveness.  The challenge comes with executing these popular coaching methods.

In your sales career, you likely have sat through your share of Opportunity Reviews or Inspections. And, that’s what they felt like. You come in, the manager reviews or inspects the opportunity – looking for what you aren’t doing right. Encourage your managers to think of these reviews as coaching sessions and to find areas where they can add value for the rep, not just call out things the rep needs to do.  Watch our video on conducting effective opportunity reviews. The same goes with role plays or any coaching session.  Give your managers the tools to conduct them in a way that provides tangible value for the rep.

Developing a Stable Performance Management Process

Sellers benefit by following an efficient, systematic process to move prospects through the sales pipeline. Managers similarly operate better as sales performance managers with a steady, repeatable operating rhythm. Your path may involve steps such as initial rep training, ongoing review of productivity, coaching and training, and continued monitoring of progress.

The more repeatable the process, the more efficient you become at carrying it out. You also get better at recognizing connections between sales activities and results, and getting involved at opportune times to encourage improvement.

Inspiring Your Team Through Adversity

Another common challenge in sales performance management is inspiring your salespeople through adversity. Top sellers are usually self-motivated and goal-oriented. Your role is to keep the fire burning when a rep hits a bad stretch. Help him/her learn what went wrong and what needs to change the next time a particular incident happens.

Regular meetings with reps allow you to review goals and discuss factors contributing to under performance. Use internal analytics to help pinpoint factors in research, qualifying or lead nurturing that may impact conversion efficiency. In a recent post, I noted that your main role as a manager is to coach a salesperson to develop regular cadences and selling processes that allow for easier monitoring of progress.

Unecessary Burdens

Salespeople often get bogged down with tasks that take them away from actually selling. Review your expectations regularly and get feedback from your team to find out what frustrates them, and which activities don't truly contribute to strong sales performance. Some targeted check-ins can help drive overall efficiency in the entire sales organization. 

Inconsistent Criteria and Evaluation Metrics

Inconsistency between stated performance criteria for sales reps and metrics used to evaluate them causes frustration. Use your performance tools to evaluate what your team is accountable for producing.

Companies often fail to realize that department metrics vary as well. As an example, the IBM Big Data & Analytics Hub stated that sales department and finance department objectives are quite different, but sales teams are sometimes unfairly held accountable for such results as self-service efficiency and IT costs.

Sales performance management

To succeed at sales performance management, you must know which factors directly contribute to your team's productivity.


Your organization's ability to generate revenue is directly tied to how well your teams are enabled to sell. Take the time to coach your front-line managers and you'll drive accountability and efficiency throughout the organization. 

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