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What Could We Do To Better Evaluate Sales Reps?

We are a sales-driven organization with approximately 50 employees. What would be the ideal type of performance appraisal for us to use? —The Cost of Money, construction, Pune, India

Dear Cost of Money:

When preparing to provide performance reviews, it is easy to fixate on finding the “right” type of appraisal to use. However, the type of appraisal used is far less important than what is being measured. For a performance review to be actionable and effective, it must evaluate the skills that most align with the business’s overall strategy, regardless of an employee’s role.

So what skills should be evaluated for sales professionals? The most crucial skills, according to sales leaders, are: 1) prospecting 2) time management and 3) account management. They are the top three skills that sales people must master.

As such, sales leaders should measure all the subset of skills and experiencessuch as industry knowledge, research abilities, presentation skills and territory management, among othersneeded to successfully carry out these three broader responsibilities.

Underpinning a command of these responsibilities is a commitment to “owning” the customer experience. This entails providing differentiated customer experiences throughout the selling and post-selling process. Leaders that wish to develop their sales teams will ensure that salespeople get rated on their ability to consistently provide a positive interaction with customers.

In fact, all employees play a role in this ownership of the customer experience. It is central to your organization’s strategy and all employees ought to be evaluated on their ability to master their roles.

Once leaders determine specific metrics, it is up to them to conduct a productive performance review. The following steps help ensure that employees and managers walk away from performance appraisals with good understanding and clarity on how to move forward.

  • Prepare for a focused discussion. Think about the goals of the organization and how the employee contributes. Link areas for skills development with the needs of the organization to help employees better understand the significance their role.
  • Set expectations. Before the meeting, make sure the employee understands the focus of the appraisal and the type of information they should be prepared to share.
  • Invite discussion. Encourage open and honest conversation in performance reviews. Ask about specific challenges and areas of opportunity to garner greater feedback.
  • Jointly decide on next steps. Make sure that goal setting is a collaborative exercise. It is important for employees to have autonomy over their career progression.
  • Summarize the core points of the appraisal. Recapping the core discussion points ensures that leaders are in lockstep with sales professionals.

Performance appraisals aren’t only about evaluating the past. In fact, have your mangers use them as a game plan for improving both corporate and individual performance. That’s a surefire way to boost bottom-line results.

SOURCE: Chris Blauth, AchieveGlobal, Tampa, Jan. 22, 2013

LEARN MORE: Please read a related article: What’s the Best Method for Assessing Sales Incentives?

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.