Creating Performance Improvement Plans For Salespeople

 

Let’s assume that, in some way, every person desires to feel like they are successful. Most reasonable people do not pursue and accept jobs if they didn’t feel like they could be successful in it. The 2 questions are can they perform the work and will they perform the work? That’s where a performance improvement plan (PIP) comes into the picture. Someone is not successful at some aspect of their job. If both parties agree that the salesperson wants to, and can be, successful in sales then a PIP would be the next best step. If not, then you probably have a different problem that deals with attitude more than aptitude. 

 

In some ways, a PIP acknowledges that both parties have failed each other in some ways and both equally deserve a second chance. Often times the salesperson needed additional oversight and support, or maybe they just aren’t fit for the position and should look elsewhere for jobs where they can be successful. A PIP is our way of saying let’s give this one more try before any of us make up our mind. After all, everyone involved has much to gain if the salesperson comes out the other side successful from their PIP. The question is, how can I create a PIP that is appropriate for my salesperson? 

 

  1. Achievable Goals – Everything in your PIP must have measurable goals. We are in a sensitive situation when someone’s job is on the line, so there should be nothing to guess about. Let the numbers tell the story that if success isn’t meant to be, the numbers can validate that. Be sure to pick goals that are reasonable. Remember, we would rather this be the path to success than a painful exiting from the company.
  2. Pipeline – Make certain that the salesperson is maintaining a steady pipeline. This is often one of the biggest culprits for sales failure. Make sure you set acceptable standards for pipeline minimums during the PIP timeline.
  3. Activities – The PIP should express in no uncertain terms the types and amounts of activities that should be performed during the time period. If they can’t do the work, then this is not the job for them. How many phone calls, emails, visits, etc do you expect?
  4. Customer Meetings – Sales are not going to happen without meeting with prospects and customers. If a salesperson cannot get people to the table, then sales is not a fit. We all love hard workers, but we like sales even more. Hard workers can easily find a job elsewhere.
  5. Check-ins – Make sure you have at least weekly PIP check-ins with the salesperson. The PIP can last anywhere from 30 – 90 days. If you aren’t checking in regularly, there’s a good chance that the salesperson continues to struggle with the same issues. Remember, the goal of the PIP should be to make them successful, not to watch them slowly fail.
  6. Sales – I hesitate to add this to the list because certain industries have long sales cycles. If you have a sales cycle that is less than 60 days, this can be part of the PIP. If it is longer, I would rely more on the number of customer meetings that the salesperson has created.

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