An honest assessment of your team comes with clear expectations

How to fairly and accurately measure your sales team’s performance – and keep them motivated at the same time.

“What gets measured, gets improved” is a well-used saying with a lot of meaning behind it. You may have big sales goals to achieve, but you can’t ensure that everyone is rallying behind those goals unless they are given feedback on their performance.

Appraising your sales representative’s performance helps to identify areas of development, monitor progress, and if done right, is a good way to keep employees motivated, as it shows that the employer cares about their development. Performance appraisals also help to set plans for the coming year, and the structure helps remind employees of why they are coming to work every day.

My advice is to keep the process of measurement as simple as possible. Here’s how:

• Set the standard

Your sales reps need to know the basis on which they will be measured. What are the most important things they need to achieve? These should be easily verified (such as the dollar amount of sales closed, productivity measures such as sales call effectiveness and other quality objectives).

You also want to set behavioural objectives, which include how the employee achieves the set objectives. This could include adherence to set processes, how well the rep works with other team members, whether they participate in sales meetings or similar measures that foster cooperation and uphold your company’s values.

No goals would be complete without setting developmental objectives. This is where the sales rep sets goals for professional and personal development. This can include training, being exposed to new projects, reading or being coached by a more senior colleague.

• Assess the sales rep

When you are ready to assess your sales rep, use the standards you set out as a basis for review. I recommend evaluating the sales rep against his or her objectives, with the direct line manager doing a separate assessment against the same objectives.

A conversation can then be had about whether goals have been met. In my experience the best way to do this is face to face, simply because that is the most effective means of communication. Choose a venue that is quiet and free from interruptions – observe the same rules here as recruitment interviewing in that the conversation is most likely going to flow better if there are no distractions and complete privacy is assured.

If that is not possible, opt for a video or phone call, but avoid email, which can be misunderstood.

Finally, use the conversation to set new objectives for the next review period. This is the new set of standards upon which the sales rep will be judged, and whatever necessary support he or she will need.

Often, during the review, you will be faced with three scenarios:

1. The sales rep makes the grade. They are achieving the performance goals, doing it in a way that is encouraged, and making sure that they continually improve the way they do things. Make sure that people like these are rewarded, recognised and invested in. They are keepers.

2. The sales rep has achieved some, but not all of the goals.

Provided they have some potential, make sure they are put in a position to develop their skills. Check on their aspirations to see whether your organisation can actually give them what they want.

3. The sales rep has achieved little or none of the objectives.

In this case, sit down with the rep and find out what the problems are. Some may face obstacles to achieving their potential that can easily be solved. Others may not be right for sales, and as a manager its your responsibility to give them that feedback and take remedial action.

• Looking ahead

With the performance, behavioural and development objectives defined and measured, you now have a discussion on incentives and rewards, which is an important part of the appraisal process. Finally, always end the conversation on a high note – make the sales rep understand that you are there to help him or her achieve their goals. A motivational summary works wonders, and focusing on the highlights will make him or her feel motivated and believe that the new set of goals are indeed achievable.

Ahmed Al Akber is the managing director of ACK Solutions, a firm that helps companies improve their marketing and sales results

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Published: October 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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