The sales business is known for its uncharacteristically high turnover rate. Sometimes, it's unavoidable – agents that just don't enjoy sales and aren't cut out for the job may make it through the vetting process, and they need to be let go. At the same time, companies frequently employ a number of sales representatives that, if given the right attention, could be extremely productive.
The tendency to cut talent without question is a practice many sales organizations need to scale back on. Think of a sales team like any sports organization – when a player or club does badly, it doesn't fire all the poor performers after a single game. Instead, it works with them and provides coaching to help them improve for the next game. Sales leaders should take a similar approach. Yes, some people may need to be cut from the team along the way, but coaching and the right approach to development may have a long-lasting impact.
Sales leaders and managers need to realize that talent is important to the success of any business division, but even more so in their line of work. Sales is a tough job, demanding a variety of skills that may not be innate, ranging from product knowledge to various conversational habits. Providing agents with the right coaching is crucial to helping them develop both personally and professionally and can create an employee that is not only more productive, but also more loyal to the company.
At the same time, sales leaders should look at other elements of their department if things aren't progressing. In many cases, the individuals aren't performing poorly because of the lack of talent or aptitude – it's because the systems and processes they are following are broken. The incentive compensation plans aren't encouraging favorable behaviors, the script they are using isn't optimal – there are any number of ways the actual sales processes could hinder results.
Other issues could lie in the technology being used by a sales department. For example, if sales performance management (SPM) and incentive compensation management (ICM) solutions aren't being utilized, there could be a lack of insight and transparency that could be used to drive further improvements.
There are a number of possible reasons why agents are underperforming, and it doesn't always have to do with them being bad at their jobs. Whether they need coaching or other issues are holding them back, it's up to sales leaders to figure out the best ways of improving their performances.