Why you might be managing sales performance through the rear-view mirror.
Let’s start with the bad news – your front-line sales managers are probably driving the car looking backwards. And as a result, you might be too.
As a sales leader, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have an objective basis, apart from revenue, of assessing each individual salespeople’s strengths and weaknesses?
- Do you know, with confidence, which front-line managers can coach their team to build their team’s bench strength, as opposed to just coaching the deals?
- Do you have any objective basis for that, or is it just your “gut”?
- When you decide to performance-manage someone out of the business, how long does it take?
- Do you normally need to start collecting performance data once you start this process?
Most front-line sales managers can coach the deal, but not the person.
Obviously, every sales organization measures win rates and revenue. In non-complex and high-velocity sales, these may be quite adequate measures of a sales rep’s and their manager’s capabilities.
But revenue is a trailing indicator of performance
In complex or enterprise sales, where deals can run for months or even years, using these metrics alone is fraught with danger. There is nothing more frustrating (or expensive) than coming second on a big deal, and only later discovering in the wash-up that the team running the deal had capability gaps. They crashed into the tree.
And perhaps you could have seen it coming.
Your front-line managers are likely to be the weakest link.
The promotion from salesperson to manager is perhaps the most challenging step up that we ask our professionals to make. It is a dramatic step to go from being good at selling yourself, to imparting that capability in others. Many never figure it out.
Most sales leaders spend significant time and effort assessing competencies during recruitment but have no ongoing means to measure skills once salespeople join the team. Few organizations even define a simple, consistent competency framework for reps. Even fewer require their front-line managers to build up objective competency data as part of their role
The best sales organizations build a simple process that generates competency data over time as part of their regular sales management workflow.
This not only helps you as the sales leader to make better decisions about hiring, firing and promotions, but also forces your managers to understand a critical part of their role – building scalable capability.
Here are a few tips for creating a truly scalable sales team:
- Implement a simple, robust pre-call planning process for all major client meetings. A good call plan should cover the high-level goal for the account, the advance we want for today’s meeting, the motivations of the person we are meeting, and a game plan.
- Require your managers to review important call plans from their team and document the feedback in your CRM. This gives you three critical sets of data: (1)The quality of planning by the rep, (2) Their ability to gain the advance they were aiming for from the meeting, and (3) The ability of the Manager to coach and add value to their rep’s thinking.
- Ensure that your managers understand that their responsibilities go beyond “hitting the numbers”, but also include the assessment and development of these key competencies of their team. Ideally, the development of a “competency picture” for their team should form part of their key performance indicators (and yes, we mean remuneration).
- Encourage your managers to establish a regular coaching cadence with their reps. They can still coach the deals day-to-day, but they should be coaching the people on a slower (monthly) cycle, focusing on competency gaps.
Keep tracking revenue and win rates, but don’t rely on them alone. Seek leading indicators of competencies so you can start seeing problems coming through the windshield, before you hit the tree.
If you’re interested in a plug-in software solution that does all of this for you, feel free to schedule a demo.
The dashboards bring all the information into one place – it’s really about accountability, you can look at it very quickly to see if you have a problem in a certain area
Kim Moller, Senior Vice President of Sales
MiMedx Group, Inc
SWIFT™ for Salesforce
SWIFT™ turns your CRM from a database into a high performance sales engine with integrated call planning, coaching and competency assessment.
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