For sales leaders, providing performance reviews of the salespeople on their teams is crucial. These reviews can give sales associates valuable feedback about how their performance compares with their sales goals, and what changes should be made in their approaches and behaviors.
While few would question the value of sales performance reviews, there’s a wide array of viewpoints about how sales professionals should be evaluated, and for which skills they should be reviewed.
In a recent Dear Workforce article, titled, “What Could We Do To Better Evaluate Sales Reps?” AchieveGlobal’s Chris Blauth considers this very question, and provides specific steps to help ensure that sales representative performance appraisals are clear and effective.
One of the major points Chris makes throughout this article is that performance reviews for sales reps should focus on their integral skills of prospecting, time management and account management. In addition, there’s a need to consider related skills and experiences, including industry savvy, research capabilities and presentation skills – to name a few.
The article also goes on to point out several important steps that leaders can take to ensure that both managers and employees benefit from the performance review process, and can identify what needs to be done to gain further strength in the review process.
Among others, the list of practical steps for productive performance reviews includes:
- Helping the salesperson understand the process, even before the review begins
- Focusing the performance review discussion on links between organizational goals and skills development
- Encouraging honest and open conversation
- Using the review as an opportunity to develop a plan for moving forward, strengthening performance
Performance appraisals aren't only about evaluating the past. They can be great opportunities for managers to assess areas where future coaching should occur. And the more specific your observations about a salesperson’s performance, the more “on target” the coaching you offer will be.
The following are three areas of competence which provide a general basis for sales coaching (both inside and outside of a sales call) along with questions to help assess performance within each area:
1. Product/Solution Knowledge
How well does the salesperson understand the features and benefits of his or her products and organization? How familiar is the salesperson with relevant proof sources and stories that illustrate successful applications of the products/solutions?
2. Selling Skills and Sales Process
How effectively does the salesperson manage the sales call by: Opening, Probing, Supporting, Closing, Addressing indifference, and Resolving customer concerns? How effective is the salesperson at prospecting and new business acquisition?
3. Customer Knowledge
How well does the salesperson understand the customer’s business/industry (e.g., customers, suppliers, products, competitors)? How effectively does the salesperson identify the personal needs of the individual customer?
And one other big picture point is that the overall intent of sales rep performance reviews is to improve sales results for the individual salesperson, and for the organization as a whole. It can help tremendously for both employee and manager to keep this as a focus in all their discussions.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida