Being a sales professional is often very stressful, as there are high demands to meet sales quotas. After all, if salespeople don’t make their numbers, it not only impacts their goals, but the financial needs of the companies. Because of this, there is tremendous pressure placed on hitting their sales.
But even though sales numbers are hugely important, they’re not the only way to evaluate the success of your sales team. If you’re trying to identify which salespeople on your team are the top performers and which ones might need to make a career change, it’s important to know how to look beyond the immediate numbers and develop a more nuanced way to evaluate sales reps’ performance.
Final sales numbers are often the most attention-getting stats for sales managers, but there are a lot of other elements that go into creating those final numbers.
Here are 5 ways you can evaluate sales reps more fairly and effectively and look at the whole picture of what they bring to your team:
1. Measure process, not just final results
It might sound counterintuitive in such a results-driven business, but more sales teams need to focus on the overall sales process, and not just the final results. You need to have a “sales funnel” in place that guides your prospective customers through each stage of the buyer’s decision-making along the entire customer journey, including these touchpoints:
- The first contact or initial inbound inquiry
- The earliest discussion to assess the customer’s needs
- More detailed relationship-building conversations and discussions about the potential ROI of the customer buying your solution
- The final sales closing
You should evaluate your reps not only on how well they close deals, but on how well they work through each stage of the sales process. You might discover that some of your best closers struggle with the early stages of making a sale, and that some of your salespeople with lower conversion rates in the final stages are great at qualifying sales leads initially.
Measuring the overall performance of your reps throughout the sales process will help you identify people’s individual strengths and help your sales team get better as a whole. Unfortunately, many sales teams currently do not have a consistent sales process in place–according to stats cited by HubSpot, 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their sales funnel.
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2. Promote good prospectors
Most salespeople hate prospecting. They hate making cold calls, and they hate making those first uncertain steps on the road toward finally closing a sale. This reluctance means that there is an opportunity to find the salespeople who actually enjoy prospecting and who are good at it, and make prospecting a niche role within your sales team.
Perhaps you’ve got salespeople who struggle with closing sales or building longer-term relationships, but who have the right energy level and relentless ability to keep getting on the phone and introducing themselves to new prospects. Find a way to reward your salespeople who do the parts of the job that most salespeople don’t want to do.
3. Reward training
Many sales managers believe in the 80-20 rule—the idea that 80% of your sales results come from the top 20% of your sales reps. If this 80-20 rule is true for your organization, it can be tempting to just let your top sales reps keep doing their own thing and keep selling and selling—but this can be a mistake. Instead of evaluating your top sales reps based only on their sales numbers, try to capitalize further on their success by asking them to create best practices and training opportunities that can be shared with the rest of the team.
The best players in sports don’t just rack up great statistics for themselves; they find a way to make other people on the team get better. It’s the same for sales. Enlist the support of your best salespeople in training the rest of the team. Find out what they do so well, and replicate that success—and make sure your top sales people understand that training is part of their job performance evaluation.
4. Recognize teamwork
Is your sales team truly a “team” or just an assortment of individuals? Good sales teams should have a spirit of friendly competition, but everyone needs to understand that the real competition is outside the organization. They’re ultimately not competing against each other—they’re helping each other compete against your company’s competitors. Look for ways to reward sales reps that exhibit and promote good teamwork, whether that means filling in for someone on a client meeting, or helping a teammate close a big deal.
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5. Think about the next deal
We talk a lot about building relationships with potential customers, but what does it really mean? Making a sale is huge, but what about when it comes time to renew or upgrade? And are your customers likely to refer you to someone else?
Another important part of the sale is how your customer feels about it afterward. Aggressive salespeople who will do anything to close the deal can be a huge asset to your team, but if they over promise or disappear after the sale, it can leave customers unsatisfied. Tracking and monitoring your progress by repeating customer satisfaction ratings six or 12 months after the sale can be another great way to tell whether your team is building successful long-term relationships—or just padding short term numbers.
Evaluating sales reps is about more than numbers, and it’s not always an exact science. Try to build a sales evaluation program that will promote the right characteristics and values that you want as part of your sales team. So you evaluate and reward your sales reps in a way that plays to people’s unique strengths, addresses any gaps in productivity, cultivates a sense of teamwork, and helps your team get better overall.
Gregg Schwartz is the Vice President of Sales at Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the industry-founding lead generation companies for B2B major account lead generation and appointment setting services.