How to correct a medical rep who is following an action plan and not sending report in time? How do I improve a medical rep who is not achieving his/her target for several months?
My Stab at this Question
AD, Thank you sending in your question. Based upon the question you sent in, I am guessing that you are a sales manager. In the topic, you also put pharmaceutical sales but this question could really apply to any sales situation. I selected this question because, sales managers have challenging situations to manage, coach and lead their sales team. With the good, comes the bad as well.
Late with Administrative Items
In my experience, with a rep who is consistently late with their administrative duties, it is a bad habit that will continue if not corrected. Most sales professionals hate doing the administrative items, but it is part of the business and it needs to be done. One of the dangers that the rep runs into when they lack good administrative skills and not balance their time to complete items due is that it shows the inability to manage their business. It also looks bad because most companies keep a list of individuals who are late, and this does not help with the perception from the senior leadership team who only sees reports and have limited visibility to the field sales team. This is why it is important to communicate this to your rep to help him/her understand why it is important for them to keep up to date with their administrative items.
Another thing is that it is a requirement of the job. This has to be managed and communicated by you as the sales manager. Set clear expectations and when a rep falls late, you have to communicate this to them immediately and ask them to email you when completed. Ask the rep if they need help and coach them by giving suggestions on how to have better time management skills and to commit to get things turned in on time. You do have to treat all team members the same, so take some time to write a clear and concise team expectations and periodically remind the team of your expectations. What I have done is that I run a tracker on an excel spreadsheet and use color codes, green means on time, red means late. Communicate with the team that this will be used for the end of year performance review and set the understanding that administrative duties are included in the rating which could affect the sales rep getting a raise or promotion.
Not Achieving Sales Targets for Months
The second part of your question has more to do with sales performance. I suggest working with your Human Resource department on how your company handles performance issues. For me, I work with my HR partner, but as the sales leader, I do my part and try to coach the rep to help lift their performance. If sales targets are not being reached, then a review of what is being done should be talked through and to look for different approaches.
If sales performance consistently under-performs, then a formal performance plan should be put in place with clear expectations with dates and weekly phone coaching conversations to track how the rep is doing until performance gets better. I usually start with an informal process with just the sales rep and myself, but if too much time passes by, suggestions are not being executed, then a formal performance plan needs to be put in place. Remember to include your HR partner to ensure you stay with the law. The main goal here should be for you as a sales leader to not have the sales professional get to this point and use this as the last resort only. This is why it is very important to hire the right person for the job.
A lot of conversations will be needed with you and the sales professional but they are hired to bring in sales and if it is consistently not being met, then action needs to be taken to change things around. If the performance has just been slipping for a short period of time and the sales rep has historically performed well in the past, then a business review and change in strategy might be needed. Sometimes it just might be a motivation issue, but it is your job as the sales leader to uncover this and to set a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound goal (SMART) goal.
Start with a meeting to discuss this with your rep, be transparent, but approach it with the goal to help lift and help the under-performing rep.