If used properly, a sales performance review is a good tool for planning goals and chalking out areas that require more effort in the future. A performance review will only contain information that the sales manager and salesperson have already discussed in the course of the previous year. This is because the salesperson should be helped on the spot if he or she has any difficulties and not have to face an unexpected complaint at the annual review. Also, an excellent sales person should receive praise when it is due throughout the year.
The annual review is the time of year when the sales manager and the salesperson go over the successes and failures looking for patterns and discovering what made a success or failure. The sales manager should take note throughout the year of the ups and downs of their salespersons’ performance.
There are several approaches to a performance review, but one way is better than the others. The employee should be part of the review process. The manager can write reviews for each salesperson and hand them out. Alternatively, the manager can ask the sales personnel to write their own reviews and accept them. However, when the employee is part of the review process, he or she is engaged and more likely to be focused on their weaknesses and strengths.
Some managers like to focus on helping salespersons improve their weaknesses, while some accept that the weaknesses may not change much, so they focus on making the strengths even better. This may be a matter of style of management, but it makes sense to give objectives that coincide with a person’s strengths rather than spending most of the time trying to improve their weaknesses.
A sales performance review should address the quantifiable and the unquantifiable. The quantifiable is the person’s record of sales, how many appointments she makes and any aspect of the job that can have a number value. The unquantifiable relates more to personality such as how she relates to colleagues, how she treats her customers, the impression she project and her strong areas.
Some companies rate their salespersons on a scale of four. The highest is an excellent rating for those who outperform the others, exceed their quotas and do well most of the time. The review shouldn’t make them feel like they have made the grade and can coast from now on, but should encourage them to keep up the good work.
The next is a good rating for salespersons who meet expectations but rarely excel. They can be encouraged to make the effort to become excellent.
Average salespeople sometimes meet their quotas but not always. The management has to make the decision if these people can achieve better with the right coaching, or if they will probably never improve and the manager’s time is best spent with someone else.
The worst grade is poor. This is for salespeople who may be in the wrong job. They rarely meet quotas and sometimes don’t come even close. This type of employee probably doesn’t want to be in sales and letting them go may be the best thing the manager can do for them.
No matter how an employer decides to evaluate their sales personnel, they need to be making sales and money for the company. If the salesperson can’t do this, it must be noted in the review along with tips for improving. The consequences of not improving should also be mentioned.
The sales manager should know the goals. They should be reasonable while still being challenging. The goals will make it easier to determine who is a top salesperson and who isn’t. The employees should be told the goals at the beginning of the year, and they should not be changed until the end of the year. If the employee met their sales goal, they should get a positive review. If the employee was one among the top ten in sales, they should be recognized as one of the top sales people. Sales personnel who did not meet the goals need to be told that they will be expected to meet the goals during the next year. The sales manager can discuss their difficulties in meeting the goal and coach them.
They need to be told the consequences for not reaching the goals for two years in a row. This may be termination or a written or verbal warning depending on how close they were to meeting the goals as well as on other factors such as if they had difficulties in their personal life. During the sales performance review the goals for the next year should be mentioned. The salesperson can sign a copy of the goals as well as the performance review to be kept in their file.
While it is necessary to add unqualifiable traits in the review, employers and managers must remember that the assessment needs to be based on the return the company gets from the salespersons and not on the manager’s personal feelings.
By Andre Bradley