The sales performance management activities that we are performing today are creating the results we are achieving today. Many or few, consistent or irregular, planned or impromptu, the sales performance management activities that we, as sales managers, use to motivate, train and hold our sales team accountable are at least partly responsible for the success or lack of success of those we manage. You must ask yourself, what activities are you, or your sales manager, doing now that are creating your current unsatisfactory results?
The old adage, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten” comes to mind. It is up to you as sales leader to set higher standards for the behaviors and activities and hold people accountable so that you get better results.
A characteristic of truly successful individuals is that they welcome the opportunity to explore and implement new ideas and practices. Even if some of the territory that we will explore does not seem to apply directly to what is going on in your company, recognize that you cannot achieve different results until you are receptive and welcoming of analysis. You may find some unexpected value in the following information that will positively affect your team’s sales as we focus on the most common issues. We will show you how to build a framework that will help you make a most dramatic difference in your business results.
Step One: Strong Performance Management begins with Setting Standards
Most companies set annual standards for sales teams and salespeople. Certainly goals are established and communicated and are probably tracked and inspected on a somewhat regular basis. Typically the process for setting goals is part of an annual business planning process, usually an arduous ordeal in which the sales team has little say. Thus, it is neither enjoyed nor embraced by those who are actually responsible for the goals and the activities that support the goals.
However, if this process is approached with the right attitude and the goal of helping the relationship manager make more money, this annual business and goal planning process can be a positive experience that will truly motivate individual salespeople (See The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly) and bring sales teams together. See how this can happen for your company.
The following exercise will help you develop an effective process for setting standards and upgrade your sales performance management. In this case you will use the table below to analyze and set standards for your entire team’s Annual Gross Sales Number, but you should use this exercise with individual sales people as well.
Step 1: Write your team’s current Annual Gross Sales Number goal in the box next to GOOD. This is what is expected this year. Achieving any number less than this will be considered poor performance.
Step 2: Now pick the Annual Gross Sales number of an okay year from the past, but choose one when your team did not achieve its assigned goal. Choose a year when your team worked hard and put forth great effort, but did not quite reach the assigned number. Write the actual number achieved in the box next to POOR. Understand that this number is poor because your team did not reach goal. If you frame the year as pretty good, i.e. “we almost made it”, you have communicated that you will accept less than GOOD. You will have accepted mediocrity, thus eroding the new standards you are trying to set.
Step 3: Select a number that would be completely unacceptable for your team and write this in the FAILING box.
Step 4: Select a number that would make an extremely good year, one in which your team exceeded goal. Write this number next to the EXCELLENT box.
Step 5: Select a number that would make a truly amazing year, a year that would go beyond expectations, far surpassing the current sales goal. Write this number in the box beside EXTRAORDINARY.
As you can see, you have clearly identified and raised the standards. This newly defined level of standards will become your communication platform for setting extraordinary expectations with your team, one by one. Next step, take each of your salespeople through this exercise to establish their extraordinary sales goal, then have regular accountability meetings to keep them on track.