To increase sales performance, sales managers must highlight essential areas of goal development for the sales reps to improve in. Even if the reps are lacking in many professional selling areas, it's best to identify and focus on one area for specific measurable improvement at a time. Next the manager must get the rep bought in on the need to practice and improve the targeted skill set. The rep needs to see the whole picture and clearly understand what improvement in the particular area would do to his overall success. There is a reason for under-performance in that particular area. Sales reps are just like regular human beings, they will avoid performing certain tasks they don't like and find a way to justify it to themselves internally. Simply handing them a sales objectives list and forcing them to practice the activity may not suffice. They need to understand how the activity translates into dollars. If they can connect the dots themselves, management can encourage more enthusiasm in the practice of that weak area.

The key is to somehow find a way to turn any negative situation into a positive. This is crucial especially when reps are not making their quotas consistently. They are already short on confidence assuming they are indeed working hard. They already take it on the chin from their prospects on a daily basis, so instead of management piling on the pressure, they can take a different avenue. Management should define precisely what area needs to improve, what it means in the big picture of things and plot measurable milestones to assess progress. Patience of course comes into the equation. The management team should come up with a mutually beneficial timeline based on individual history. Sales managers and business owners can instill confidence in the under-performing rep by assuring them they have a future in the company as long as they continue to show progress. Managers can use this opportunity to explain how expensive it is for the organization to hire and re-train a new rep. They can create win-win situations out of even the most negative times. Mutual respect from both manager and sales team can go a long way.

To further ensure the sales reps can improve the identified area, sales managers should provide additional resources to assist the rep. There are several ways to do this. The manager could assign a mentor who is an expert in the chosen area, some reps thrive when they are tasked to improve a team member. Also the manager could pave a way for the rep to translate a particular passion and enthusiasm for his favorite activities into his weak points. Specific rewards along the measurable milestones can also be effective. Sometimes sales reps can re-double their efforts after glimpses of success. External sales training to strengthen the reps weaknesses should also be considered especially if it carries measurable objectives. Handling non-performing situations need not always stay negative, sales managers must generate creative solutions to provide positive outcomes. It's definitely worth taking the extra time to keep the entire situation positive, sales reps can be much more productive in a positive energy zone.

Author's Bio: 

Henry Okwo is the Founder and CEO of SalesGymUSA, a Targeted Sales Training company. Henry is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley where he was a 2-time National Champion. He has over 15 years sales and management experience and has developed a specialized sales training program based on sports performance development to boost sales. Find out more targeted sales strategies to increase your sales results at Henry also conducts a daily mental workout on his blog,