Sales Management Case Studies: Coaching the Talented-Slacker

Steven Rosen - Star Results Blog

Meet Jane.

Jane is an experienced and successful district sales manager who could work in any industry and for any company. In fact, there are many Jane’s in all companies. Jane is performance-driven, a very good coach and a people person. Each month Jane is put to the test with different sales reps she must coach to success.


Jane’s Profile:


District Sales Manager IBZ Inc. 2004


Sales Manager Alba Inc. 2000-2004

Product Manager Alba Inc 1996-2000

Sales Rep Alba Inc. 1992-1996


Business Degree 1992


Managing Effort Getting Results 2008

Professional Sales Management 2007

Sales Coaching for Success 2006

Professional Selling 1998


IBZ is a mid-sized technology company that has had some tough years but has turned the corner. It pays its reps a combination of salary and bonus for the achievement of targets. This year the bonus plans have a super bonus portion which accelerates when a rep is 5% over quota.

Jane wants to get 2009 off to a great start. However, as she shared in one of our monthly coaching sessions, she is frustrated with one of her most tenured sales reps.

For some background, Jane took over an underperforming region last year and has helped lead the team to be in the top 25% of districts in the country. Jane’s goal in 2009 is to reach the top 10% of the country and she is focused. Her key area of focus is on finding innovative ways to grow the business. She wants her team to develop new business opportunities for lagging product lines.

As she reviews her team, the one rep keeps coming up. Ray has been with the company for over 20 years and has worked with 10 DM’s. He has been on 2 personal improvement programs (PIP) and has won several sales contests in the last few years.

Ray knows his stuff, he knows his customers and he knows how to get others in the office to do his work. When Jane works with Ray she has a good day although she wonders whether he works full days when she is not with him. He picks her up at 8:30 and drops her off around 4:30. The day is well planned and Ray has a good rapport with his customers.

Jane has invested a lot of energy trying to motivate Ray and a lot of time giving him positive feedback on his skills, customer service and business plans and on his year-end review. She would like to see the results if he would put the extra call each day.

In reviewing Ray’s 2009 business plan, Jane determine that he had not included any new target customers or innovative approaches to driving the business further. She is frustrated with Ray’s lack of initiative and drive.



1. How do you motivate Ray to put in the extra effort required to be a top rep?

2. How much time would you invest in Ray in 2009?

See my thoughts on this page


Dear Jane,

Ray is an example of a rep that has all the talent but lacks consistent effort to be a top performer. The first thing we need to remember as managers is that it is not our job to motivate our reps. External motivation is short-lived. It is not necessarily sustained when you are not with your rep.

Another way to approach Ray is to encourage him to focus on developing new business. He may think he knows best and he will appease you by picking a few accounts. He knows he will have a new manager in time and will outlast that manager as well. Provide Ray with positive reinforcement only when Ray demonstrates that he is driving new business and initiatives.

You can continue to invest in Ray’s development but will get limited returns for the time you invest. With 8 other reps you can achieve a better ROI by investing in those reps that put out a consistent high level of effort and are self- motivated.


Let me know how it goes!

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Steven Rosen 2022

Hi, I’m Steven Rosen, and I’ve been coaching sales executives for over 20 years!


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Steven Rosen - Executive Sales Coach


Steven A. Rosen

Steven helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. His focused coaching helps clients achieve greater personal and professional success. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Manager’s Success Guide.

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