How to Coach the Talented Slacker

Jane, high-performing sales leader a  wants to get the year off to a great start. However, she is frustrated with one of her most tenured sales reps – a talented slacker.

Meet Jane – District Sales Manager

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. 20018-

Work History:

  • Sales Manager Alba Inc. 2016-2018
  • Product Manager Alba Inc 2011-2016
  • Sales Rep Alba Inc. 2009-2010


Business Degree 2009


Sales Coaching Situation

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 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 the year off to a great start. However, she is frustrated with one of her most tenured sales reps – a talented slacker.


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 this year 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.

Meet Ray – The Talented Slacker

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, 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. Yet, Jane wonders whether he works full days when she is not with him.

Jane has invested a lot of energy trying to motivate Ray.  She gives him positive feedback on his skills, customer service, and business plans. He even received a positive year-end review.

Still, when reviewing Ray’s business plan, he had not included any new target customers or innovative approaches to driving the business further.

Jane is frustrated with Ray’s lack of initiative and drive. she feels that his sales productivity could be two or three times higher if he’d just put in a little extra effort.

Sales Coaching Questions

  1. How should Jane motivate Ray to put in the extra effort required to be a top rep?
  2. How much time and effort should Jane invest in Ray?

Coaching the Talented Slacker

Ray is an example of a rep that has all the talent but lacks consistent effort to be a top performer. The classic talented slacker.

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 for Jane to approach Ray is to encourage him to focus on developing new business. He may think he knows best and he will appease Jane by picking a few accounts.  Jane should give Ray positive reinforcement only when he demonstrates that he is driving new business and initiatives.

Jane can continue to invest in Ray’s development but will get limited returns for the time she invests. He knows he will have a new manager in time and will put most of his effort into outlasting Jane.

With other other reps Jane will achieve a better ROI on her time by investing in those reps that put out a consistent high level of effort and are self-motivated.

Got talented slackers on your team? We teach you how to replace them with better salespeople in our Free Sales Manager’s Ultimate Interview Guide

About the author

Steven Rosen

Steven’s mission is to inspire sales leaders, managers and sales people to achieve their…

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