Effective performance evaluations
Creating a positive culture around reviews is essential for a high-performance sales team
Most salespeople and their managers know that performance is ultimately determined by sales results, but taking the time to conduct a thorough performance evaluation on a regular basis is key to consistency.
Sales results are exactly that: results, or in other words, the end of the selling process. But great salespeople and their managers know that consistent high performance is really about all of the attitudes, behaviors and techniques that happen before the final result. Creating a positive culture around sales performance reviews is essential for a high-performance sales team.
Holding regular sales performance evaluations with each salesperson is highly recommended because it’s proven to boost the performance of sales teams over those that forego the practice. Effective management always includes holding people accountable and every salesperson should expect to be evaluated on their own sales performance. HR-mandated employee performance reviews should probably occur separately from sales performance reviews. Naturally, HR and sales management need to communicate and work together in this regard.
How can a sales manager effectively evaluate performance in a way that helps the salesperson achieve company goals? First, ask yourself these questions:
• Is each salesperson’s career path and goals aligned with our company’s direction?
• Am I doing everything I can to coach, train and mentor each team member for success?
• Are they learning and showing improved behaviors? Are we seeing any results?
These questions are meant to underscore the importance of your management responsibility in designing and implementing a sales performance evaluation system that’s fair and that works.
The best performance evaluations are not events but rather continuous feedback loops in which there are different indicators reviewed within a repeating cycle. This way, the performance evaluations feel more like collaborative working sessions than judgmental criticism.
There are five components of performance evaluations that can keep your feedback on track. They are:
1. Document the facts relating to key performance indicators and keep files up to date.
2. Address each specific issue, focusing on observable behaviors and results.
3. Identify corrective actions and provide coaching and training support as needed.
4. Specify the time frame for improvement, with understandable goals.
5. Re-evaluate performance activity and results at the end of the specified time frame and begin at step one with the next evaluation phase.
One of the roadblocks that some CEOs and sales managers experience is how to get an effective sales performance evaluation program off the ground and keep it going. Just where do you start? Well, at the beginning of course — with documentation. Documenting your evaluations make the effort tangible and it’s the ideal way to start the process. Plus, if you treat the documents as valuable tools, you’ll want to put them to good use.
Forms and documents have an automatic association with “paperwork,” and maybe they are, but winging it in your head is never a good option when evaluating your people.
Think of your sales and employee performance appraisal forms as a welcomed set of tools designed to help you get the most from your team as well as from your own efforts.
A strong performance appraisal tool will generally contain the following:
• Criteria for satisfying the responsibilities and behaviors in the job description
• Key performance indicators specific to the employee’s role
• A weighted scoring system to measure changes in the KPIs over time
• Areas for specific action plans to improve results
Your performance evaluation tools should be working documents used by every salesperson and their manager to keep a continuous feedback loop going and measure changes in results.
I’m confident in saying that if you develop the right set of tools (oftentimes documents) for process improvement and use them consistently, you’ll achieve better results than companies that don’t want to bother with the “paperwork” or time away from other business activity.
Just remember that in sales, revenue growth is what it’s all about. The really great salespeople and their managers don’t mind getting together for regular performance evaluations because they want to know honestly where they stand and how to keep growing.
Kevin Hallenbeck, principal of Sandler Training- Manchester, can be reached through bestsalespeople.com or 603-232-1520.