BTM Event Video: Hubspot CRO Mark Roberge – How do you deal with salespeople that are underperfoming?

Building the Sales Machine (BTM) Event Video Series: we post clips of the best questions that where answered during our live events, so you can take the best ideas back to your teams and companies for further discussion.

BTM: How do you deal with salespeople that are underperfoming? How long do you let that go on for?  What sort of actions can you take when someones not performing?

Mark Roberge:

That where it gets back into coaching.  Coaching is the number one attribute, so as long as I hire someone that coachable, I should be able to get them through.

It stressed me out in the early years.  We had so many sales hires 3-4 months in where the managers said “it’s not working out, they’re just not good”.  I pushed them to stick it out, and a lot of them ended up being top sale reps.  You’re going to have some attrition in sales, you can’t hang on to everyone, but it really stressed me out that we did not know 3-4 months in.

So what we did was set up a performance plan that was very fact based.  You have 6 months to ramp, and after that time, if your trailing 60 days was ever below 80% performance you went on a performance plan.  Then you had two months to get that number back to 100%, or you where out.  Obviously it’s not just gloomy bad news, but that removed any politics from the culture.  When someone went on a performance plan it wasn’t because their boss, it’s because the employee wasn’t stepping up.

What I would look up there, was how responsive the employee is to the coaching.  When a manager says that the performance plan isn’t going well, I would ask “did you see an improvement? And if you saw and improvement, did they sustain that improvement?”  If the manager is coaching them and the employee is making no progress, then that’s a really bad sign.  If they are coaching them and they improve but they regress, that’s a bad sign too.  But if the sales manager is coaching the employee and the employee is improving incrementally, it might be frustrating, but this could be a top performer 12 months down the road.

The key is

  1. Fact based performance plan right out of the gate (to remove the politics)
  2. Focus on coaching on knowledge retention
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