Include Sales Skills Assessment in Performance Reviews

Most organizations that operate on a calendar basis have completed, or will soon complete, their team’s 2016 annual performance reviews. This year-end analysis covers a range of topics depending on the role of the employee, the size of the organization and the scope of the employee’s job requirements.

Standard reviews will include organizational, team and individual goal attainment against plan and in comparison to comps from the previous year. Some organizations ask employees to complete a self-appraisal, while others rely on measuring against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or a combination of both. Another useful feedback mechanism is performance review from peers, often called “360s”, which provide a multi-directional view of how well employees are doing in the eyes their teammates.

For those of us in sales, the final results are very binary- did you or did you not hit your revenue number? But the key information we really want to get at is not if sellers did or didn’t make quota, but WHY. What are the skills those sales reps possessed that directly contributed to hitting their numbers? For most of our customers, we break selling skills into six categories. These skills may vary based on industry or whether or not they are in a complex or transactional selling environment, but for the most part, they are as follows:

  • Prospecting
  • Needs Analysis
  • Establishing Value
  • Accessing Key Players
  • Managing the Buying Process
  • Closing and Negotiation

We encourage our customers’ first line sales managers to conduct skills coaching on a regular basis (at least monthly), and not to wait for just once a year. I often ask attendees in our workshops “how often to give your children feedback?” They usually chuckle and reply “every day, all day”. Likewise, we need to provide our selling teams with ongoing performance feedback as well as a safe environment in which to practice and hone the selling skills they need to be successful.