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The Blueprint: Turning Around Struggling Sales Execs

Constant pressure feels as natural to a sales team as day following night. With relentless deadlines and sales targets to meet its a given, and that means if some of your sales reps are struggling to perform the situation can spiral out of control very quickly if left unchecked. As a manager --probably with your own set of time pressures and targets-- you might be tempted to use the big stick approach to get your struggling sales execs in line fast. This can be effective in the short term when you’ve got motivated, successful team members. However, with a struggling sales exec exerting more pressure is not always going to work. Instead, let’s explore what else can help your execs start knocking it out of the park again!

One size does not fit all

Sure, your sales team is working toward the same goals and financial targets, but you can bet each exec responds to different management styles. It’s essential you take a personal approach to motivating each team member. Some will respond to a demanding, tough love approach, whilst others prefer a positive, encouraging relationship with their manager. Take the time to get to know your sales team and what makes them tick. That way you can adapt to help them in the way they need to get the results you all want.

Look at the big picture

Unless you’ve mistakenly hired someone whose talents do not lie in sales, low results are not always the fault of the exec. Markets change all the time, so it’s worth examining the bigger picture periodically to ensure that your sales strategy is tight, the product is competitive within the market, commissions are structured to motivate whilst serving the budget, and that the team understands what it is they are selling and has the right training to do so. This is obviously a long-term strategy and potentially company-wide so you’ll need buy-in on this, along with some quick-win strategies as well.

Lead from the front

Turning around a sales team starts with the manager. Let’s assume you’ve already had success in the particular area your team is in. This makes you best placed to help them. Show your execs how to succeed, from accompanying them on a sales call to helping them close a deal. A struggling sales exec is probably experiencing immense mental pressure. Help them succeed again and that might be enough to get them off the ground and flying again.

Create a successful culture

The way you communicate is key to creating a successful sales culture. Tell your team about the company mission so they can understand it and commit to working towards its goals. Talk to your team in an open and positive way - this will inspire trust and passion. Define your expectations and be very clear about what you want, giving your team metrics so they understand their targets are achievable. Build a strong team that supports each other - as no successful sales team can rely on only one or two big hitters. Schedule regular team meetings where success and challenges can be shared. When you give feedback, make sure it’s constructive, not personal. Celebrate the wins and recognize all of them, even if they are not directly related to closing a sale, so all team members feel valued.

It takes a lot of investment from everyone, right? It’s true it takes time and effort to build a winning sales culture but even taking these first steps will start changing the game immediately and help all of your execs to fulfill their potential once more. Good luck!


Nation's Executive Search Group is sought out by leaders in Enterprise Risk Management, Marketing Services and Decision Analytics for mission critical sales and marketing leadership talent. For more information, email or call Rob at (410) 827-0180,

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