Almost every discussion of building a successful software sales team includes two points. The first is that you need to get rid of underperforming team members. The second is that you need to invest time in your talent before cutting them loose. It’s all very simple on paper but in the real world those are two of the most difficult decisions for any manager.
Step 1: Making Them Aware
The first step begins by calling the employee into your office and explaining that there have been some issues with their performance which, if they aren’t addressed within 90 days, will result in termination. This may come as a surprise, but you’ll explain that you’ve asked them to meet so you can develop a plan that will help them keep their job. That’s when you pull out the four pieces of paper.
Step 2: Goal Setting
Next, you tell the employee that the first piece of paper is for setting a goal that, if they hit it, will prove they’ve earned a spot on the team. This is simpler for sales than most positions, since it will likely involve a revenue target. It’s also important that the employee sets the initial goal – which will probably be unrealistic since they’ll try to impress you – and that it’s then negotiated down to something that is attainable and agreeable for both parties. Conclude this step by having both parties sign off on the first piece of paper.
Step 3: Required Resources
The next piece of paper is reserved for the employees to request the resources they need to achieve the target set in step 1. The same process of negotiation and agreement should occur before both parties sign off on it. This makes it easy to address the question of whether you gave an employee the right tools for success and whether they would have made a difference.
Step 4: Rewards For Success
We’ve already established that the biggest reward is continued employment but if an employee is willing to go the extra mile to earn a spot on your team you should be willing to do the same. The third piece of paper is for recording and signing off on a mutually agreeable reward for success.
Step 5: Consequences For Failure
This is almost always loss of employment but this process can be used for less severe performance issues. Either way, both parties should sign off on this piece of paper as well.
Once the pieces of paper are signed you should schedule weekly check-ins to review progress. You’ll realize quickly that 10% -15% of employees will rise to the occasion and as you approach the deadline it’s clear they’ve earned that reward and a spot on your team. For the remainder it will be obvious a few weeks from the deadline that it’s not going to happen and it’s time to resign.
This will mean your sales managers are firing fewer employees and that you’re sure talented candidates aren’t walking out the door before you gave them a chance.