Five Tips to Help a Straggling Social Seller

Don’t let that straggler go yet. Discover the potential in under-performers through communication, objective evaluation, and partnering on a plan for success.

February 28, 2015


A warm breeze is against your cheeks as the pavement passes beneath your feet. This running thing; it’s freedom, it’s fun, and frankly, you just can’t stop.

Then, there’s an odd feeling under the sole of your shoe. You look down. Your laces are untied and suddenly you’re bracing for impact against the gritty sidewalk.

Knees scraped, palms sweaty, you look up and find empathy in the eyes of your parent. They’re there, dusting you off, re-tying your shoe laces, encouraging you to run again.

As a sales manager, this relationship of serving, teaching, and protecting extends beyond family and directly to your sales team.

At any given time, one of your sales reps may stumble and fall. Sometimes it’s as easy as tying a shoe, other times it is not. This is where you come in. As their manager you are responsible for digging in deep, addressing the issue, and coaching them up.

So if you have a team member who has stumbled, follow the advice below and help them to be a social selling success.

Address the Problem Directly

It’s dangerous to assume your underperformer knows that there’s a problem. And problems left unchecked can lead to poor attitude and even poorer performance which can spread quickly through an entire sales team.

To get started, document the known issues sticking only to the facts. Then, brainstorm potential solutions so you can guide the conversation toward next steps.

Find the Source of the Problem

Once the lines of communication are open, work with the rep to pinpoint the problem. In many cases, listening can be your most effective tool at this stage in the process.

For example, ask probing questions that will allow you to gain information as to whether or not your team member:

  • Is lacking the knowledge or skills and therefore needs additional training
  • Needs a tool or resource to improve
  • Is effective, but not efficient (or vice versa)

The information and insights you collect will enable you to create a plan that directly addresses the issues and charts a course for success.

Keep the Conversation Objective

As a sales manager, it’s critical that you remain objective, use facts, and keep everyone focused on end results.

While emotions can run high when you are addressing performance issues, coming prepared to the meeting will help you keep the conversation on-topic and moving toward a resolution.

Before the meeting, document your key talking points, possible solutions, and how you plan to help your rep.

Make a Mutual Commitment to a Plan

If your sales rep is willing to acknowledge there’s a problem and work with you to make changes, now is the time to lay out a detailed plan. Goals and expectations should be documented in as much detail as possible, with action items and due dates.

Make sure the goals are reasonable and measurable. The rep may want to make promises that he or she isn’t equipped to keep, so be sure to provide guidance as to what is feasible and in what timeframe.

The plan should also include actions and goals for how you will help them. Whether it’s additional training sessions or allocating budget to an external resource, a mutual commitment is needed for success.

Track Progress and Reward for Improved Performance

Now that you’ve laid out specific, reasonable goals, it’s your rep’s responsibility to work the plan. You can still play a key motivational role, however, by regularly rewarding success. Even small praise can go a long way towards keeping reps engaged – reps want to know that their progress has been noted.

Not every employee can be saved, of course. If the rep doesn’t acknowledge the problem or refuses to make and stick with a plan, it may be time to explore alternative next steps. With good communication and clear expectations, though, you’ll be better equipped to identify the team members worth saving so that you can pick them up and help them to run freely with social selling.