The purpose of a performance improvement plan is to define serious areas of concern in a sales rep’s work performance, reiterate a team’s expectations, and demonstrate a commitment to improving sales performance.
No one wants to be in a situation in which a performance improvement plan is necessary. They can be difficult to navigate, and if expectations aren’t met, they can end in employment termination. Although that’s no fun, it is often necessary—a poor performer can cost a business nearly $15,000.
Successful performance improvement plans need to be objective and data-driven, which means documenting the supporting data for the problem. Luckily, performance data not only points out the problem, but also spells out the desired solution. For example:
- If a rep’s calls are down (the problem), that means calls need to be increased (the solution).
Once you have the performance data in front of you, here’s what you should be prepared to discuss during a performance improvement plan meeting and what you should track afterward.
Improve Sales Performance With Development Plans
Sales and customer service are challenging crafts that require focused coaching and improvement. To create beneficial development plans, be honest about areas of improvement and agree to work together to set goals and create positive change.
Here are three performance improvement plan examples that should help you develop your plan:
1. Determine Desired Improvement Areas
Improvement areas should include a description of the specific area or areas that need improvement. In this section, a sales manager should identify desired improvements in the quality and quantity of a rep’s key selling behaviors.
These areas for improvement should be supported by business rationale, meaning an explanation of how they connect to key business outcomes.
From there, the development plan should include documentation of relevant metrics that demonstrate the performance shortfall.
For example, let’s say you have a rep that only has a 6 percent win rate on all opps. Clearly, this is problematic. You would then identify and expand upon the metrics that are causing the problem. Here are a few examples of how you might do this:
- Follow-up meeting ratio: Looking at the data from this metric, you see that this rep is only passing 50 percent of opportunities to the second meeting, failing to progress deals by engaging further stakeholders.
- Opportunities: Although this rep’s meeting progression rates are low, you identify that the opportunities are not low, dismissing volume as the issue.
- Meetings: You notice your rep has the same number of first meetings as other reps, so the lack of second and additional meetings shows up in meeting totals.
- Time between opportunities: You can identify the average time your rep takes to connect with an opportunity. Setting the standard to contact every 14 days, your rep can determine whether it is a dead opportunity so it doesn’t affect their average.
- Email volume: Although emails do not close deals, they are a good proxy for general selling effort. If your rep’s email volume is poor compared to other reps, you can conclude that the rep isn’t putting in the effort.
So you’ve identified the issues, but what are your desired performance measures for this rep?
2. Create a Plan of Action
Create a development plan of action according to desired performance. Taking our example above, your desired performance might look like the following:
- Customer meetings: Determine attainment levels by setting a goal for meetings per week. This goal should be for first meetings because the next point concerns follow-up meetings.
- Follow-up meeting ratio: One of the biggest constraints on the above meeting achievement is the conversion of first meetings to second, so this metric might need to be improved by slightly less than the above metric.
- Weekly email: This metric will require a fair bit of time with consistent emails between 60-100. Immediately following up on completed meetings and frequently checking in with opps will contribute to email volume.
- Time between opp touches: To ensure opp control, set an average of fewer than 14 days between touches on opps.
- Win rate: Although this metric is harder to control, it should be based on the previous actions. Identify a fair increase of improvement.
You will also want to explicitly state the timeline, consequences for failure, and the resources available to the rep, including specific coaching commitments from their immediate manager.
3. Review Findings
After you create the development plans, build a timeline for reviewing the rep’s improvement. This might look like three review checkpoints with detailed reports and a final review to recommend a course of action.
Create Development Plans Supported by a Data-Driven Sales Management Platform
Using Atrium’s sales management platform, you can easily view performance data based on appropriate sales metrics. With information readily available to management, they can identify sales performance issues before they become problems.
Examples of performance improvement plans can be hard to come by, but they are critical to a manager’s tool kit. This template will ensure your plans are comprehensive and intentional.