Underperforming employees in any business area can have a negative impact, and this is especially true of your sales team. With underperforming employees costing SMEs an average of 39,500 a year, it’s clear that organisations simply cannot afford to make bad hires – or let good hires go bad. Underperformance can become a culture, permeating entire teams and seeping into every part of a business. With that in mind, here’s how to tell if your sales team is underperforming and what you can do about it:


Start by asking yourself whether your salespeople hit their individual and team targets – and if so, how often they are achieving this. As today’s sales people spend just 35% of their time selling, it can feel very difficult for some sales people to achieve their targets whilst keeping on top of their paperwork and sales admin. Keep track of how frequently your team hits their targets to get a better understanding of their levels of efficiency. If you notice that some people consistently miss their targets, consider setting smarter sales goals, providing additional training and evaluating whether your goals are realistic, trackable and achievable. There’s no quicker way for a sales person to be demotivated than by constantly missing target, so work together with your team to ensure they can reach their goals.

Social media

Internet users now spend a whopping 2 hours and 22 minutes a day purely on social networking and messaging platforms. The vast majority of employees have complete access to the internet – and therefore social media – during their workday, which means the temptation to spend work time on personal social networking can be compelling for some salespeople. Most sales people will use LinkedIn and other social tools as part of their daily work, but if you’re concerned that their personal use of social media channels is interfering with their roles, consider monitoring the time they spend on social media (particularly if they are using work equipment to access it). Whilst it may be difficult to ban social media outright during work hours, you can limit access and encourage salespeople to save personal networking until out of hours.


Even the best sales people can become complacent in their jobs, and this is particularly true of those who aren’t being motivated by new challenges and ongoing coaching. Don’t assume that your sales stars will continue being stars without your feedback and encouragement. No matter how strong and confident a salesperson is, everyone appreciates feedback and affirmation. Make sure you are communicating regularly with all salespeople and making them feel valued, and you’ll likely find they maintain strong performance.


Following up with prospects and leads is an important part of any solid sales strategy, especially as 80% of sales require five follow-up calls following a meeting. With 44% of sales people giving up after one follow-up call, it’s apparent that many could benefit from being more persistent and tenacious. Not following up on leads is a waste of potential revenue opportunities – but before you start interrogating your salespeople for not doing so, consider whether your sales process is clearly defined to emphasise the importance of following up and the times when this should occur.


Speaking of processes, consider whether an underperforming sales team could be the result of a poorly defined – or non-existent – process. Allowing your team to do whatever they want, whenever they want can lead to inconsistency and sales processes that don’t align with your business goals. As a sales manager, you should have a clearly defined strategy that every single salesperson understands and follows. That gives you a clearer understanding of how your team is performing and the ability to take action if you notice salespeople are struggling.


If an employee is frequently calling in sick or taking unscheduled time off work, this can be a sign that they are not motivated to be there and may not have the willingness to perform well. While genuine sick leave and holidays are to be expected, keep an eye on sales people who seem to be taking more unexpected days off than usual and ensure their sales performance doesn’t slip.

Hire the top performing salespeople with BMS

At BMS, we’re experts in sourcing and attracting the market’s best salespeople. If you’re looking for more advice on hiring salespeople, contact us here. We can help you identify and recruit top talent, along with training your team to be the best they can be.