Learn effective strategies to tackle sales team underperformance and drive performance improvements. Discover how to assess root causes, set clear goals, provide feedback and coaching, consider alternative solutions, and make well-informed decisions. Create a high-performing sales team with these proven techniques and best practices.


In the competitive world of sales, maintaining a high-performing team is essential for business success. However, at times, sales teams may face underperformance, which can significantly impact overall sales results. It is crucial for sales leaders and managers to address underperformance effectively and implement strategies to help their team bounce back and achieve exceptional results.

This article will discuss various strategies for tackling sales team underperformance. By exploring proven techniques and best practices, sales leaders can equip themselves with the knowledge and tools necessary to drive performance improvements and create a high-performing sales team.

Assessing the root causes of underperformance

To effectively address underperformance, sales leaders must first identify the root causes contributing to the issue. Common reasons for underperformance include lack of skills, knowledge, experience, personal or professional issues, or a mismatch between strengths and the sales role.

  • Assessment tools: Utilize various assessment tools such as sales reports, feedback, coaching sessions, and performance reviews to identify gaps and root causes of underperformance. This data-driven approach helps pinpoint areas for improvement and informs targeted interventions.

Setting clear and realistic goals

Clear and realistic goals play a critical role in improving sales team performance. When goals are aligned with the overall sales strategy and objectives, team members are more likely to stay focused, motivated, and accountable.

  • SMART goals: Set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for each team member. Clearly communicate expectations, standards, and evaluation criteria to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Providing feedback and coaching

Timely and constructive feedback is instrumental in helping underperforming team members improve their performance. Coaching sessions tailored to individual needs can provide further guidance and support.

  • Balanced feedback: Offer both positive feedback to reinforce strengths and areas of improvement to address weaknesses. Balancing feedback helps maintain motivation and builds trust with the underperforming team member.

Considering alternative solutions

If underperformance persists despite previous interventions, it may be necessary to explore alternative solutions. This could involve adjusting goals, feedback, or coaching methods, or considering options such as training, mentoring, or reassignment.

  • Consulting with stakeholders: Engage relevant stakeholders, such as HR, peers, or mentors, to gain insights and perspectives. Collaborative decision-making ensures a comprehensive approach to tackling underperformance.

Knowing when to let go

In some cases, termination may be the final resort if the underperforming team member fails to make improvements or fit into the sales role. While a difficult decision, it is essential to handle the process respectfully, professionally, and fairly.

  • Respectful termination: Provide clear reasons and feedback to the underperforming team member. Offer support during the transition and consider the potential impact on the remaining sales team members.


Addressing underperformance in sales teams requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. By assessing root causes, setting clear goals, providing feedback and coaching, considering alternative solutions, and making well-informed decisions when necessary, sales leaders can drive performance improvements and create a high-performing sales team.

It is important to remember that every sales team is unique, and a tailored approach is crucial for success. Implementing these strategies and adapting them to specific team dynamics and challenges will empower sales leaders to overcome underperformance and achieve exceptional sales outcomes.


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[^13]: LinkedIn. ‘How do you handle sales execution gaps and underperformance?’. Read more

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