Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Sales Management Tools: The Performance Formula

Tags: successful sales teams, sales management, sales performance management, performance formula, sales management tools, david cook

Performance management is a major component of our Sales Management Certification program.  When we graphically represent a sales managed environment, the pyramid below is how we communicate the components, how the environment is built and the order of importance.

sme-pyramid.png

A great friend of mine, Keith Walker, has let me borrow a video series by David Cook PhD called “The Mindset of A Champion”.  In the introduction, Dr. Cook describes the formula for performance as:  Performance = potential – interference.  I found this interesting and I would like to share my thoughts with you today.

Years ago, when we would discuss the potential of a new recruit at Iowa State University, our head coach would tell the rest of the staff, “Potential will get you fired.”  I didn’t understand it then, but over the years I have learned to understand it as it relates to performing not just in athletics, but also in business, particularly in the business of sales.  This all ties very well into Dr. Cook’s equation.

When you think about all the salespeople you have on your team today, there isn’t a single one that you hired or have been keeping on staff with the thought that you really need some people on the staff to not live up to their potential.  Nope, this is not the case, now or ever.  Every hire, every person on the team, has potential and, if you are like most sales managers, you live for the day that they live up to their potential.

Are you disappointed?  Are you surprised?  Are you frustrated?  Are you out of different tactics to take to try and get them to perform at their potential?  If so, then read on and I believe you will find some great solutions.  If you are not sick and tired yet, then come back to this article when you are ready to make changes.  For the people who are ready now, here are some suggestions to correct the problem.

  1. If you hire for potential, then set a realistic time frame for the potential to be reached.
  2. If you hire for potential, that means you are hiring a project: a project that requires an investment of time, money and resources. If you don’t have the bandwidth, the right systems and processes in place or the required bias toward coaching and developing people, then don’t hire people with “potential”.
  3. Hire people that are plug and play.
  4. To find those that are plug and play make sure you use a pre-hire assessment tool that is specific to sales success and has a high predictive validity score. (Objective Management Group’s pre-hire assessment is THE only one we use and recommend.  It tests exactly what needs testing and has a 92% predictive validity.)
  5. Evaluate your own contribution to the problem.
  6. Understand these two really IMPORTANT truths
    1. Your recruiting, on-boarding and development programs are perfectly designed for the results you are getting today. If people in your charge are not performing, then something in your system has to change, including you!
    2. The people that are underperforming – you either hired them that way, tolerate them being that way or made them that way. (This last item is kind of like the Olympian that finishes last.  No one trains to be last). There isn’t anyone on your team that has the intention of being last.

Let’s go back to the pyramid.  Performance management is THE base for the entire SME process.  It supports everything else that needs to be done within the sales environment.  If people are not being held accountable, then you have a problem.  If people are able to perform at an average level without consequences, then you have a problem. If you have people that are un-trainable and un-coachable, then you have a problem.  If you don’t have a system data collection – both observed and collected – then you have a problem(s). Actually, two problems:

  1. You don’t have anything to hold them accountable to.
  2. It is virtually impossible to conduct intentional coaching if you don’t know how effectively they are executing the sales process. Only data can tell you that.

Lets go back to the formula from Dr. Cook.  I believe what he is trying to tell us is that the performance of all people trying to do anything will suffer when there is interference.  In order to improve performance, the sales manager must first understand that performance management is the most important job they have.  This does not mean that they have to spend most of their time in this area – that is reserved for coaching.  But it does mean it is the priority. 

Given that it is the priority means that you, as the sales manager, must have systems and processes in place to help you determine the “interference”.  And, finally, when assessing yourself, you must determine if you have the strength of conviction and commitment to succeed in your role.  In other words, what is interfering with your potential as a sales manager? 

In my next post, I will identify – using the Objective Management Group's sales management assessment findings – common interferences for sales managers.

Additional resources:

Postwire Sales Portal link to access helpful information about:

  • Hiring Better Sales People
  • Coaching
  • Performance Management
  • Assessing Sales People
  • Sales Management Certification