How to Improve Sales Performance of Reps or Teams [Data & Expert Tips]

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Althea Storm
Althea Storm


The sales a company makes play a crucial role in its longevity because they directly impact its revenue and profitability. Sustainable sales growth indicates a healthy demand for the company’s product or service, which in turn supports ongoing operations, positive cash low, investment in innovation, and potential for expansion.

sales team reviews performance data

However, a good sales performance can be tough to achieve for many salespeople and organizations. In this article, you’ll learn how to improve your personal sales performance, how to improve a team’s sales performance, and how to track sales performance metrics.

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Table of Contents

What is sales performance?

Sales performance is the effectiveness and efficiency with which a sales team achieves its revenue and sales targets. It reflects the ability to effectively sell products or services and meet (or exceed) organizational goals within a specified period of time — be it monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Sales performance is important because it directly impacts a company’s bottom line. A high sales performance indicates that the company is effectively selling its products or services, leading to increased revenue and profitability. It also reflects the efficiency of the sales process and the company’s ability to meet customer needs.

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    How to Improve Your Sales Performance

    According to HubSpot’s 2024 Sales Trends Report, 54% of sales pros say selling has been harder this year than it was before. To make things easier, here are some tips to improve personal sales performance:

    1. Have the right mindset.

    The mindset you bring to a deal has a lot of bearing on its outcome. If you approach your job with an “I don’t think I’ll make it” mindset, you’re dooming yourself to fail.

    While becoming a high-performing sales rep takes more than insisting that you’re destined for greatness, you still need to work within the right frame of mind. For example, you can create an annual vision board — a space where you assemble pictures and phrases that relate to your ambitions and why you want to achieve your goals.

    While it might seem a little gimmicky, it helps you remember why you got into the field when you hit hitches in your career — and it’s a powerful exercise for visualizing success. It can keep you going when you need a little extra oomph to power through the rougher patches of your professional development and improve your sales performance.

    2. Improve your business acumen.

    Business acumen — the level of understanding you have about how a business runs — gives you immediate credibility when you are positioning your product or service. This, in turn, helps you show prospects that your product or service is worth their time and capital in an extremely limited timeframe.

    To improve your business acumen, learn the ins and outs of how the typical company in your vertical operates. You can also try reading credible business publications or digging into relevant financial reports for a deeper understanding. This allows you to approach every prospect with a picture of how their industry peers function — along with knowledge related to the challenges and tactics companies of similar size face and leverage.

    HubSpot Sales Manager Mintis Hankerson says:

    “You need to understand your customer’s business before you even reach out to them or draft the first email. As a sales rep, the key to success is to understand how your prospect is approaching their buying process, what their intentions are, and how you can accommodate and fit into that.”

    Hankerson’s not the only one who espouses this. Shreya Patel, the Sales Head at Travel Portal Solution says:

    “Before approaching a client, I invest some time to learn about the lead’s business goals, determine the lead’s underlying requirements, needs, and loopholes, and prepare my initial pep talk. It helps me make the client believe that it’s us who understand their business and can give solutions.”

    3. Get organized.

    One of the biggest factors in improving sales performance is ensuring you are focused on the right task at the right time. If you’re not allocating time to complete work — like putting time on your calendar — you might be letting some key responsibilities fall by the wayside. That kind of inefficiency can take a toll on your sales performance long-term.

    If organization isn’t your strong suit, get help quickly. Ask an organized team member to walk you through their workflow to give you some ideas. If you’re exhausting too much of your mental capacity trying to juggle too many priorities, it’s hard to focus on your prospects — and that’s more or less bound to stunt your overall performance.

    4. Review all pertinent data for your role and position.

    Most salespeople are assigned a sales quota and activity metrics that will help them reach it. Some organizations publish these numbers, so salespeople can compare their results with high performers.

    Reading the data and incorporating it into your daily activity is key. HubSpot Sales Director Tiki Biswal offers this advice:

    “Understand what your ‘sales macros’ are. Most people are familiar with macros, or macronutrients, in the context of healthy eating. In that instance, you track how many carbs, proteins, and fats you eat to better understand what you’re consuming and help you reach your goals. This same thought process applies to sales.

    “Think of your metrics and KPIs as your macros. If you don’t understand what metrics or KPIs you need to overachieve, then you’ll have a hard time gauging your performance. The metrics you need to hit could be vastly different than the other reps on your team.

    Quote from Tiki Biswal on how to improve sales performance

    “I once had a rep on my team that was ‘doing everything right’ but still missing her quota. We pulled some data and noticed that her discount percentage was 15% higher than everyone else on the team. After some coaching on negotiation and closing, she was able to steadily increase her Average Sales Price.”

    Always be mindful of the fact that your definition of personal success might be different from those of your peers — but it’s hard to argue with hard numbers. That’s why knowing where you stand, according to the relevant KPIs your sales org tracks, is central to improving your individual sales performance.

    5. Set concrete goals.

    Sales representatives are often high-energy, ambitious professionals who strive to meet (and exceed) their quotas. That kind of high-minded goal-setting can be a big help in improving sales performance. It keeps you working hard and offers some wiggle room if you fall short.

    That said, it’s important to distinguish between goal-setting and dreaming.

    Goals are specific, written down, and trackable — dreams are vague, unmeasurable, and ultimately ineffective at impacting sales performance.

    You need to clearly define what you want to achieve, set plans for how you want to achieve it, and share your ambitions with managers and peers to hold you accountable and keep you on track. This will give you definitive direction and improve your sales performance as a result.

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      6. Build a personal development plan.

      A sales career offers you several opportunities to learn and mature at every stage of your professional trajectory. It’s a field that lends itself to rapid development — but only if you’re willing to plan and work for it.

      A great step to take is to create a personal development plan — a living document that defines what skills you want to improve within a specific timeframe. Start by picking one or two specific skills to focus on each month, and document the steps you take to develop those skills as you take them. That way, you can see how you’ve improved over time.

      If you weren’t given one during onboarding, you can also work with your manager to request a sales training plan to help get you to the next level — particularly if you’re new to a company. Asking your manager to fill out this sales training template for you is a concrete way to show you want to grow in your role.

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      7. Find a sales coach or mentor.

      Sales isn’t always intuitive. You may need some guidance or expert insight to really get your feet set in the field, especially if you’re new to the industry. Your manager, however, might not have the necessary time, bandwidth, or perspective to get you all the way there.

      Having a sales coach, confidant, or mentor outside of your organization can help you round out your sales skill repertoire and put you on the right track if your manager isn’t able to. With a sales coach, you get an outside perspective on your professional development, which can help you see your efforts more objectively.

      When you have someone to act as a guide and critic when it comes to how you sell, you can more easily identify gaps in how you approach prospects and conduct yourself professionally.

      8. Track your progress.

      You need to know what you’re doing well and where you’re falling short if you want to improve your sales performance, so always keep careful tabs on your progress — both quantitatively and qualitatively.

      Try to do this on a weekly and monthly basis, so you can have definitive evidence of your progress and where you might be tripping up. Beyond helping motivate you personally, it can also give you a high-level understanding of how your performance relates to your broader sales org’s success.

      And always be sure to document your success. Positive personal morale will keep you afloat and boost your individual sales performance over time.

      9. Be creative with problem-solving.

      There is no singular path to success in sales, and your ability to think creatively can serve you well in the long run.

      HubSpot Sales Director Tiki Biswal says:

      “Your ability to think outside the box could be the difference between winning a massive account or having them ignore your call or email. I’ve found clients appreciate creativity no matter what stage of the sales process you are in.

      “One of my favorite examples of creativity is during demo prep. If we are preparing to show a customer how HubSpot is going to revolutionize their blog and newsletter, why not take the time to sign up for their newsletter and receive one of their emails? This takes one minute, and provides relevant information about how we can tangibly improve their process.”

      As a sales professional, it’s your job to solve your customers’ problems and help them look good. The more creative you can be in your approach, the better.

      10. Celebrate your wins.

      A sales career has its ups and downs — and understanding both sides of the coin is key to long-term success in the field. But many salespeople get too fixated on the “down” side of their performance.

      Improving your weaknesses is important because if you don’t, they’ll trip you up down the line. But improving sales performance also rests on celebrating your wins — big and small.

      When you achieve a goal or improve a skill, share your success with your manager or team. Every win counts, and celebrating each one can give you the momentum you need to keep going.

      Now that you have a solid understanding of how to improve performance at the individual level, let’s discuss some ways sales organizations can foster better results for the whole team.

      How to Improve Sales Team Performance

      Improving a sales team’s performance includes some elements of the activities listed above — but the fact that multiple salespeople are involved in the process adds another layer of complexity.

      More people involved in the process means more variables to account for. Here are some key tactics sales managers can employ to improve sales team performance.

      1. Take a people-first approach.

      Every sales org should be people-centric.

      As a manager, you need to win the hearts, minds, and trust of the reps you lead. That starts with knowing them and letting them know you. Meet with everyone on your team multiple times to get a solid grasp of their individual skills, strengths, weaknesses, demeanors, and work preferences.

      Look into past performance reviews and previous quarters’ results. Dig into any self-assessments they’ve conducted to evaluate their own performances, and give them the time and space to share their experiences with you.

      That kind of attention will make them more inclined to follow your direction, give them more of a stake in the team’s success, and ultimately improve sales performance.

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        2. Create a safe space for your team.

        As a sales manager, constantly focusing on engaging diverse perspectives and encouraging open conversations in a team setting is crucial to your team’s success. Ask yourself, “Am I fostering an environment that’s safe and accessible for people of all backgrounds and abilities?”

        We know diverse teams perform better, but they don’t come together arbitrarily — the same goes for inclusive environments. It’s on managers to make them happen.

        Sales leaders have a responsibility to create a safe space where their reps feel comfortable sharing concerns and ideas without fear of judgment or reproach.

        3. Have and enforce core values within the team.

        At HubSpot, core values are integral to how our teams operate. Here’s what Sales Director Tiki Biswal has to say about team norms:

        “As sales leaders, we all have ‘non-negotiables’ that we expect from our team — but there needs to be give and take. An exercise that has been helpful over the years is to actually meet as a team and decide on these core values together.

        “Once this list of core values and norms is built, it creates a system of accountability that starts with the sales leader — but gets enforced at the team level. Seeing reps hold one another accountable is especially impactful and helps the group grow together.”

        If you’re looking for some example core values for your team, Tiki recommends checking out this list as a starting point.

        4. Analyze relevant team data.

        Emma Hogan, former Principal Sales Manager for Hubspot in Sydney, Australia, was a successful sales rep before her promotion to manager. Her advice for reps looking to advance is to look at the information available in each deal stage that can reveal hard-to-find performance issues. She says:

        “Get a consistent deal stage definition. At HubSpot Australia, our salespeople mark their deals in the CRM as Best Case, Most Likely, or Commit, and have clear criteria to help them identify the appropriate Forecast Stages.

        “This then enables our Sales Operations teams to provide forecasting dashboards that predict where a salesperson or sales team will finish each month based on their pipeline coverage and the forecast stage assigned to every deal.

        Quote from Emma Hogan on how to improve sales performance

        “What’s helpful about this for a sales rep is that it gives them a clear picture in real time where they stand based on the deals they have in play so they can prioritize accordingly. They can decide if they need to focus on building more pipelines or gaining more commitment on their Best Case deals.”

        For Emma and her team, Deals Created is the most important deal stage. “It is important to know how many net new deals that a rep needs to create on a weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly, depending on your business’ operating rhythm, to be successful in their role,” she says.

        If you don’t have a Sales Operations team that already set the benchmarks for you, here are two tips for you:

        • Stay focused on prospecting — If your team knows how many deals they need to create and a deadline to do so, the rest falls into place. This helps them stay focused on the prospecting efforts required to be successful.

        To gauge how effective reps are at prospecting, watch lead work rates and the average time to follow up on inbound leads. Other relevant information can include the number of leads worked per day, average lead depth (average number of prospecting touchpoints per lead), and even the time of day salespeople are reaching out to prospects.

        • Look at the close rate by rep data — If a sales rep is not closing at least 30% of the deals that are in the decision-making stage, it could be an indication of a bigger problem.

        By closely tracking rep performance early on in the sales process, you can catch and help correct issues that can have a negative impact on business later on.

        Pro Tip: A CRM can help you create these kinds of reports without having to go through a business analyst each time. For example, HubSpot’s free CRM gives you access to deal forecasts, pipeline analytics, and productivity reports for sales teams or individual reps.

        5. Have regular one-on-one meetings with each team member.

        Only 11% of sales reps regularly meet their quota, as stipulated in Pipedrive’s 2022/23 State of Sales and Marketing report. As a manager, you can learn why some of your sales reps find it hard to regularly meet their quota by conducting one-on-one meetings with them.

        These kinds of check-ins can give you an accurate picture of how your reps are feeling, performing, and thinking about the future. They also give you an opportunity to remind your team of how important they are to your company’s mission and broader vision. Former HubSpot Sales Manager Emma Hogan says:

        “In one-on-one meetings, when I am trying to understand what is holding someone back from reaching their goals, the right questions need to be asked to determine what the underlying blocker is to building a pipeline.

        “Is it a motivational issue? Is it a time management issue? Or is it a skill issue? This should determine the guidance, support, and coaching you provide to help the salesperson remove the blocker.”

        Having one-on-one meetings can provide a safe space to work through these scenarios with team members who need varying levels of support.

        6. Review business results as a team.

        Mintis Hankerson, Director of Revenue Strategy at HubSpot. Here’s her advice for reviewing sales data with your team:

        “Ensure the metrics that you want the salespeople to track are communicated frequently and publicly. This might be regular emails showing sales activity leaderboards or talking through it in a team meeting.

        “To make this work, you need to build a culture of transparency, trust, and psychological safety — as well as high performance. In this type of environment, salespeople will become used to seeing their sales activity and numbers presented in publicly available channels, and with the right people on board, it should provide a sense of healthy competition to motivate them.”

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          7. Create a culture of peer-to-peer coaching.

          As a sales manager, you should try to provide professional guidance to your reps, but also understand that improving their sales performance doesn't have to fall squarely on your shoulders.

          If you have the team structure to support it, consider pairing reps of varying experience levels together to increase team-wide accountability and create a culture of peer-to-peer coaching.

          This way, less experienced reps can get valuable perspectives that will help shape their skill sets and enhance their efforts as a whole. On the flip side, experienced reps (who assume the “coach” role in this dynamic) will get people development experience that can help them better approach any management opportunities that might come up later in their careers.

          David Bitton, the co-founder and CMO of DoorLoop, values peer-to-peer coaching. “For a sales team’s performance to improve, you have to foster an internal culture where learning is encouraged and celebrated.

          “Regularly scheduled ‘knowledge exchanges’ where team members share insights from recent sales experiences can be a game-changer. This peer-to-peer learning can often uncover innovative tactics and approaches that would not emerge in a traditional top-down training session.”

          8. Don’t become complacent.

          Inertia isn’t conducive to long-term success as a sales manager nor consistent improvements to your org’s collective sales performance. You always need to stay active.

          Always keep a careful pulse on how your business is functioning and stay on top of your team’s KPIs to avoid any surprises that might undermine your sales performance or throw your team’s progress off track.

          Avoid getting fixated on how your lowest performers are functioning. Instead, focus on constantly challenging your overachievers and tenured reps. Celebrate their success, commend them, and highlight what they’re doing right — but make sure they know they always have room to grow and refine their skills.

          Raise the bar and set bigger goals — at both the team and individual levels. Your team needs to know you believe in them and their success, so don’t be reluctant to convey your appreciation.

          9. Set attainable operational objectives.

          Pursuing organization-wide goals all at once can be tricky and counterproductive. However, breaking them down into more digestible and attainable chunks (known as operational objectives) ensures that your sales team has the necessary structure and reassurance to perform at its best.

          For instance, if you’re gauging a portion of your sales performance by measuring onboarding time, you can’t just say, “Alright team, let’s reduce the time it takes to onboard a new rep by X%,” and expect to see the results you’re looking for.

          Instead, you’d set operational objectives like finding effective conversational intelligence software to streamline how managers can shadow calls, putting a systematic agenda for training that can be easily replicated on a weekly basis, and picking an effective training methodology to guide the onboarding process.

          These operational objectives help you keep your reps on track and improve their professional well-being — two elements that often translate to improved sales performance.

          10. Hire effective candidates.

          As a manager, if you want to start and sustain a high-performing sales org, you need to hire effectively.

          Thoroughly understand the nature of the product or service you sell, and try to find candidates who have the relevant experience, skills, and demeanor to sell to your target personas. In addition to impressive technical qualifications, also find sales reps that fit your company culture and will fold seamlessly into your team dynamic.

          Morale is central to sales performance — and a sales rep who lacks the intangibles to thrive in the environment you set might be insubordinate, undermine your leadership, or have no interest in supporting their teammates. That lack of chemistry can take a major toll on your org’s overall performance.

          Tracking Sales Performance

          Sales performance is typically tracked via a range of KPIs that can reveal how your reps are faring both individually and as a team.

          Monitoring sales performance helps identify areas for improvement, optimize sales strategies, and align efforts with overall business objectives. It provides valuable insights for decision-making, resource allocation, and future planning, contributing to the overall success and growth of the business.

          Metrics to Measure

          Some of the most relevant and effective metrics you should be keeping tabs on include:

          • Win Rate – The percentage of final-stage prospects that close and become customers divided by the total number of deals in the pipeline.
          • Quota Attainment – The percentage of reps that reach their quotas in a given quarter.
          • Sales Cycle Length – The average time it takes a rep to complete your sales cycle.
          • Revenue by Salesperson – This measures the revenue each salesperson generates in a given period, be it weekly, monthly, or annually. Assessing individual performance can help identify top performers and areas where additional training or support may be required.
          • Average Deal Size – This is the average amount of money a business generates with each deal the sales team closes. This metric can reveal trends and opportunities for upselling or cross-selling.
          • Pipeline Coverage – The sum of your sales opportunities weighed against your revenue target.
          • Sales Pipeline Velocity – This metric tracks how quickly prospective customers move through the sales pipeline.
          • Churn Rate – The percentage of customers or deals that disengage or are lost during a specific period in the sales process.
          • Customer Acquisition Cost – This is the total expenses incurred to acquire a new customer. This metric is crucial for assessing the efficiency and profitability of the acquisition process.
          • Customer Lifetime Value – This is the predicted total revenue a business expects to earn from a customer throughout their entire relationship. This metric assesses the long-term value and profitability of acquiring and retaining customers.

          Free Sales Training Template

          Use this template to set up a 30/60/90 day sales training and onboarding plan.

          • 30/60/90 Day Goals
          • People to Meet
          • Feedback/Review Process
          • And More!
          Learn more

            Download Free

            All fields are required.

            You're all set!

            Click this link to access this resource at any time.

            In 2023, the average sales win rate was 21%. To get that figure higher, both individual sales reps and whole sales teams should work to improve their sales performance — and that requires accountability from everyone involved.

            Reps need to be open to embracing opportunities conducive to their professional development — but for the most part, a sales team’s performance is a reflection of a manager’s effort and leadership.

            They’re expected to push, assist, and challenge their team members enough to actively refine their skills and ultimately make the most of their abilities. That starts with effective training and onboarding and continues with consistent attention, thoughtful guidance, and an appropriate degree of trust.


            Topics: Sales Training

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