Business

Drive sales with performance tools

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Performance measurement systems are supposed to be a helpful, powerful, insightful management tool for building a strong sales team. And they can be, if the system is used as intended-using meaningful data judiciously to distinguish differing levels of effort, skill, and outcomes. But if underused or misused it can demotivate your sales force.

Remove rote operational use. A performance system applied with an attitude of bureaucratic necessity will get stagnant results. If your company has used the same system for decades, chances are managers’ use of it over time may have drifted away from its original function.

Use the right tool for the job. Are you training an inexperienced force? Do your seasoned sales professionals need to be energized? Do you need stronger collaboration between sales and other departments? Do you need to focus on: stronger customer service relationships, repeat sales, or new customers?  Each performance system is designed with a specific set of objectives. Find one that fits what you want to achieve.

Train managers. Throwing an important, valuable tool at someone without instructions, insight, or support will result in it being used many different ways, eliminating its ability to support the desired goals. Precise training, identifying the desired outcomes for the company, and defining how you will evaluate them as they use the tool effectively, will allow managers to lead a strategic initiative in sync.

Train those being measured. Drawing a transparent, strong link between expectations, outcomes, and rewards allows sales staff being evaluated a clearer understanding of how they can manage themselves to reach the company’s goals, and their personal advancement.

Use the tool correctly. No effective performance evaluation tool was designed to be used once a year.

The key criteria for measuring performance and outcome objectives should be embedded in every day organizational functions: new employee orientation, formal and informal employee sessions, meeting agendas, problem solving conversations, strategic planning processes, in office signage, and organizational communications. It should be fluent in everyday lingo.

Timely feedback on interim performance levels should be as predictable, accurate, helpful, and informative to employees as the traffic lights in your community. It trains everyone to depend on it, learn from it, react appropriately to it, and be better able to move progressively in the intended direction.

Distinguish between performers. Be objectively brave-let your star sales professionals shine. Part of the reason some companies continue to use weak performance management tools or to eschew performance evaluation processes entirely, is it takes a lot of effort to find the right tool, know what you want it to do and then get everyone to use it properly. Teaching managers how to give effective feedback regularly so everyone knows how they are performing, and brave enough to lead by way of objectively evaluating employees who may be very different in their performance is a challenging but ultimately profitable component to sales management.

Reward Excellence Differently. There is nothing ordinary about extraordinary performance. And a particular person may frequently perform at an extraordinary level. “Sharing” subjective top performer awards in a rotating fashion when it is not clearly relevant is transparently placating. When excellence is apparent reward it well. If no one is at a level of excellence wait until someone is.

Reward exemplary managers, too. Those managers who help bring out the best in sales staff deserve recognition, too.

Performance evaluation tools identify, measure, and reward or tweak the activities and outcomes of a single employee, while creating data confirming direction or identifying need for redirection of the general workforce from a strategic level. Using the right tool to define, then identify and reward excellence in sales performance can propel your company’s sales growth like rocket fuel.


 

Cheryl Kane, MBA, is a strategic business consultant, sales trainer, and professional speaker specializing in service quality. If you seek assistance in growing your business, need a business speaker, or have a question you would like to see answered in this column, Cheryl welcomes your communication at (704) 795-5058 or through her web site, www.cherylkane.net.

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