05 July 2023 |

Act Early, Don’t Wait

By Alex Alleyne

One of the biggest shortcomings of SaaS Sales Leaders is hesitating to address underperformance. When a seller isn’t driving revenue, they compromise themselves, you as their leader and the company.

Whenever I have seen challenges with morale, 90% of the time it’s due to poor performance. High-performing salespeople are happier; poor performers will typically pull the boat down.

With that said, there could be many different reasons behind their lackluster performance — your job is to unpack them.

First, you need to understand whether there are personal or professional circumstances underpinning their underperformance. 

If personal, this is where you need to lean in, use empathy and seek to understand how and where you can remove blockers for them.

If professional, it’s an opportunity to leverage data and insights to triage and transform their performance.

Data Versus Emotion

Last week we unpacked the premise of making decisions fuelled by emotion vs logic.

This debate becomes even more important in performance management — we’re talking about the livelihood of your team here. 

Emotion always has a place, including when considering circumstances that are unpinning underperformance. With that said, any decision related to performance needs to be understood through the context of what the data is telling you.

Let’s say a seller is achieving 30% of target. They say they have no personal challenges and you can see from your CRM that 80% of their deals are falling out of the funnel at Discovery stage.

What is the data telling you? Clearly, there is an Enablement gap at the top of the funnel that needs to be addressed. 

Without diving into the metrics, you will feel like you’re in the wild west trying to rely on gut feel and instinct to understand why that same seller is behind the curve.

Dive deep into your CRM, work with your data team (if you have one) to ensure you’re crystal clear around the metrics that move the needle for each member of your team.

Over Communicate

If you find yourself in a scenario where both data and emotion indicates you have a seller that needs to go onto a performance plan, then ensure you have documented evidence that validates your decision.

Having a team member on a performance plan is emotionally taxing and can also cause other team members to question their job security.

Decisions of this nature should never be taken lightly and it is important you have tracked the performance of that salesperson over a reasonable period of time before taking decisive action of this nature.

With that said, a key principle here is based on the headline of the first paragraph, don’t wait. If you see early signs that show a seller is not primed for success, call it out early, have a discussion and seek to course correct.

If there is a clear gap in performance and pace of development, you need to be willing and able to take action early to help that person find a more suitable opportunity, if necessary.

Next Week: Building a Performance-Driven Culture

Next week, we’re shifting gears to explore the foundations of a performance-driven culture. We’ll delve into strategies for setting high standards, fostering resilience, and creating an environment that promotes growth and success. Learn how to not just manage, but elevate performance by cultivating a culture of excellence in your team.