Sales Management Digest

Get Middle Performers out of Their Ruts
Selling Power Editors
Middle performers can give managers the biggest bang for their buck. These salespeople are generally highly coachable and have the potential to get on the road to greater success. So how can you get them out of their rut of average performance?

Your job is simple – point them in the right direction. To do that, you first must diagnose why they are in the middle. Is it a lack of skills? Knowledge? Tools? Motivation? Once you understand what area your middle performer needs to work on, you’re on your way to helping him or her out of that rut.

Here are some universal steps sales managers can take to give middle performers a boost.

1. Define the characteristics of your top performers. Examine what important strategies and behaviors tend to yield success in your particular organization. These are the performance characteristics you want to train middle performers to develop and adopt.

2. Empower middle performers with prospecting tools. Top performers tend to be excellent prospectors, and they often use a variety of technology tools to assist with the hunt for new business. Find out how many prospecting tools your middle performers are currently using, and encourage them to add new tools to the mix (at a measured pace, so they’re not overwhelmed).

3. Demand that middle performers become organized. Lack of productivity is often due to basic inefficient behaviors. Sometimes all that separates a middle performer from a top performer is how they choose to spend their time. Make sure your middle performers are spending time on activities that will build business and close deals – not exclusively on administrative activities. This might involve asking middle performers to catalog their activities and behaviors for a week to see how they’re currently spending their time. Work with them to figure out how they can eliminate or prioritize non-selling activities.

4. Train middle performers on their weaknesses. We all have weak areas that hold us back. Many middle performers will start becoming better at their jobs with some structured training or assistance designed to shore up their specific weaknesses. You can also sometimes get better results from middle performers by pairing them with top performers. This helps them understand the sales process and how to deploy selling skills properly.

5. Find out what makes middle performers tick. Use Myers-Briggs or other types of assessments to find out as much as you can about the makeup of your middle performers. Knowing their communication styles and drivers will help you discover the proper ways to motivate them. Your goal is to uncover what makes them tick. Is money a motivator? Or does your middle performer get fired up at the idea of spending more time with his family?

With the right approach, it’s highly possible to start getting better performances from your middle performers. Just be sure to apply your time and energy strategically. Soon you’ll reap the satisfaction of having helped average performers reach their true potential.
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