As sales management
professionals, sometimes, I think we take a little
too much for granted. I’m amazed at how little we
do really do in managing and developing our sales
people, both those direct sales people and the
indirect organizations. We tend to manage the
numbers, but as many others have cited, that’s kind
of like driving by looking into your rear view
mirror. We also tend to manage performance by
impressions, instinct, “gut feel,” opinions, or
be effective in managing performance, we must do it
based on data and facts. We must be very clear on
where we want to go (i.e. what the expected goals or
targets are), and where we are. We must have a good
understanding of the gap and what corrections are
needed to close the gap.
There are many ways
to look at performance management, in this white
paper, I’d like to focus on three areas:
management: This focuses on what people are
actually doing on a daily basis, and how those
activities contribute to producing sales results.
assessment: This focuses on the capabilities of
the people, their strengths, weaknesses, and
assessment: Everyone is “wired” differently,
people have certain behaviors they exhibit under
various conditions. Increasingly, behavioral
assessments are helpful in understanding what
drives each individual.
Both are important in
developing high performance sales professionals and
organizations. These principles are important for
sales managers, whether they are directly managing
sales people or if they are managing the efforts of
their channel partners.
Management: Do your sales people have a
plan and are they working it? That plan starts with
goals they are to achieve. Usually, these may be
expressed in terms of quotas, targets, or similar
measurements. All sales professionals are familiar
with these measurements. But more important, what
are the activities required to achieve those goals
or targets? Seemingly simple or trivial activities
are key to building a disciplined approach to
achieving goals: They can be things like:
How many customer
calls do they have to make each week?
How many prospects
does each professional need to qualify each week?
How many orders to
do they have to book a month?
How many proposals
to do they have to submit each month?
professional have enough activity at all levels of
the funnel to assure that goals can be met (now
and in the coming months)?
This isn’t an
exhaustive list, but they form the building blocks
to making sure the activity levels are appropriate
to achieving the goals. More advanced professionals
also look at:
What is the win
rate? How can it be improved?
What is the sales
cycle time? How can it be shortened?
What is the
average transaction value? How can it be
professional be disqualifying more opportunities,
Are the resources
of the company and its partners being used
professional calling on the right people, at the
right time, addressing the right issues?
Again, these are a few indicators, there are many more.
Surprisingly, however, few sales managers have anything more than
performance against the end goal as a measurement.
To drive sustained performance improvement, managers must put in place key
activity measures that track leading indicators and the performance against
those leading indicators. Managers must work with their people to assure
they are meeting their activity goals. When they are not, the manager must
determine what the problem is and with the sales professional develop a
The important point, however, is that if the appropriate activity measures
are not in place, it is impossible for both the sales professional and the
manager to know if they are on target or will not meet their goals.
Capability assessment: Do your sales people have the
capabilities and understanding to do what needs to be done to achieve the
sales goals? There are many dimensions to their capabilities that are
important. Some of these include:
How well do they understand product, service
and solution offerings of the company?
How well do they understand the company
(priorities, strategies, processes, practices, etc.)?
How well do they understand the offerings and
positioning of the competition?
How well do they understand the customers’
business, structure/organization, strategies, and challenges?
How well do they understand the issues their
customers’ customers are facing?
How well do they understand their customers’
industries and competitors?
How well do they understand and execute the
company’s selling processes?
Many others can be cited, but failure to meet activity goals could be the
result of the sales person not having the capabilities to perform.
Likewise, if the manager has knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of
their people, they can take early corrective action, to avoid missing
activity goals. Usually, the capability deficiencies can be corrected with
training and coaching activities.
Behavioral assessments: As I mentioned earlier, everyone is
“wired” differently. Stated differently, each of us displays different
behaviors. We tend to have natural behaviors—those that we exhibit under
normal circumstances, adapted behaviors—those which we exhibit based on our
ability to adapt to the situation, and stress behaviors—those that we
exhibit in very difficult situations.
People tend to be very consistent in the way they act in the circumstances
described above. Different jobs require different behavioral
characteristics. Matching the person’s behavioral characteristics to the
desired behavioral characteristics for the job will help assure the
individual will be successful.
How many times have you hired individuals that were fantastic in the
interviews, only to find they failed to perform in the job? Behavioral
assessments can help you avoid mis-hires like that. Behavioral assessments
can also provide the manager the information needed coach sales people in
how to be more effective, or potentially to identify that you may need to
move a person into a different job.
There are many Behavioral Assessments available that can be easily and
inexpensively used to understand how the people in your organization are
“wired.” We are finding this an increasingly effective tool to use in
maximizing the performance of individuals and organizations.
Conclusion: Each of these assessments is important in
maximizing the performance of individuals and organizations. These
assessments can be used for direct sales organizations and with your channel
partners. These assessments are critical in helping you lead your
organization based on data and facts, not guesses or opinions.
In EXCELLENCE provides many training programs addressing assessments,
performance improvement and related areas. For information on the
Dimensions Of EXCELLENCE training programs, follow the link.
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