Looking after your sales people, and helping them to grow professionally, will pay dividends in the long run…

Last month we looked at how to help your sales force to perform better. This month, we are going to take a closer look at how you manage sales performance.

It’s very simple to leave sales people to get on with things, and to just pay attention when things go really well – or when things are going badly! But managing sales performance means far more than being reactive to extreme situations.

To ensure successful sales performance management, you need to oversee and help your staff on a continual basis, helping them to improve and advance their selling skills, the processes they use and to analyse their results.

There can be two sides to this: a technical side, where you use software to compare metrics, come to conclusions about performance and bring in changes to help them improve and advance, and the coaching side, where you identify and understand how and why people work, and understand how to motivate them.

Three simple points

There are three simple points to remember about sales performance management:

  • Transparency
    Your sales staff must be able to easily access their figures and performance, and be able to track their metrics, so there are no nasty surprises at the end of a quarter (for you or them!)
  • Accurate forecasting
    Sales forecasts must be as accurate as possible, otherwise your staff are racing to get to a finish line that constantly moves – or which was never there in the first place – imagine how disheartening that would be! This is down to the person keeping the books, to ensure there aren’t unexpected expenses or other issues that skew the figures.
  • Motivation
    It’s a long time until the end of a financial quarter – and even the best of us can lose motivation, until the end is in sight, so sales teams need motivating and incentivising on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, depending on how your industry works. A bit of healthy competition – leaderboards, games etc – never went amiss. And being able to see how their commission is stacking up is another great incentive.

Sales performance coaching 

Coaching your team is probably the most effective way to manage sales performance. Most people thrive when they are encouraged, helped to succeed, listened to and valued – and sales staff are no different. Coaching may come from a manager, or from an external source.

Real-time observation is key. See how they are in action, make notes of the good and the bad, and give useful and constructive feedback – there’s no point in waiting until their six-monthly review. Acting as and when issues arise means they can be doing things in the right way – and succeeding – straight away.

This also gives you the chance to identify any skills gaps and arrange the correct developmental training as soon as possible.

Engaging in dialogue with your staff is another key tool. Ask open-ended questions and allow staff to answer freely – this is another case where an external coach may work better with your staff, as they may feel they can be more open about any negative issues.

Finally, allow for constant skill-building. We all need to feel we are learning and improving – otherwise you will lose staff who feel they are stagnating and not progressing. In sales teams, the focus is often on identifying success through commission earned, but it ignores the importance of personal and professional development.

Allow them to role-play sales scenarios, offer training and guidance and even one-on-one training sessions.

Ensure that their development goals are not just centred around how many sales they bring in, but also look at other wider goals for improvement.

If you would like to discuss this subject in more detail, and find out how we can help you with sales performance management and coaching your salesforce, we offer a free 30-minute Skype consultation – drop us an email to hello@springer-alexander.com. Otherwise please continue to browse the website or call us on tel: 07739 898167.