Evaluating Sales Performances, Made Simple
Long-term sales success is based on building long-term intimate relationships with customers.
It’s not about short-term transactions where the focus is on pushing products and services.
How does an organization move from a flogger to one that believes in a healthy dose of humanity to take itself to the next level of performance? It’s all very well to SAY that sales should be focused on developing deep customer relationships; it’s quite another thing to put the tools in place to ensure that it happens.
Compensation plans are critical
Sales, like every other function, is driven by their compensation plan, so the plan needs to mirror the precise behaviors needed to measure whether or not relationship-building is being done. Compensation plans that do not explicitly measure this simply don’t work.
What does the measurement tool look like?
When I led sales organizations, I had amazing success by introducing what I call the Customer Report Card (CRC) as the vehicle to determine the extent to which the individual salesperson exhibited the behavior necessary to bond the customer to the company.
The CRC consists of not more than six relationship-building behaviors that are considered critical — any more and it becomes difficult for the salesperson to pay attention to.
Let customers decide which sale behaviors should be included in the report card. A sales engagement process that they feel good about participating in and one that makes them feel better about the organization being represented should drive the contents of the card. Avoid designing the card around what sales management believes is important; their biases enter the equation and dilute its effectiveness.
Use a simple rating scale for each behavior: “A” — excellent (exceeds expectations); “B” — good (meets expectations) and “D” — poor, unacceptable (falls below expectations).
And also include a comments section to get added information from the customer to explain their rating and capture any other feedback on company performance they are willing to offer.
The process is simple:
- For each salesperson, identify the key clients that should be asked to participate in CRC completion. I focused on key strategic accounts that were vital to the strategy of the organization. If the plan, for example, were to aggressively grow data revenue, I selected those accounts that marketing defined as having significant growth potential for data applications.
- Have the customer rate the salesperson every month or on a regular schedule, they deem more appropriate to their needs. If they are prepared to do a CRC every two months, for example, that would work. A copy of each completed CRC must go to the immediate sales supervisor.
- After CRC results are in, schedule review sessions with each salesperson; develop an action plan to address any negative results and reinforce what they are doing well.
- Use the collective CRC results — without nailing specific reps — to conduct training sessions with the sales team. Stress the common issues customers have with their relationship building capabilities and the ways to overcome them.
To get you started, here are twelve potential relationship-building behaviors to consider in developing your CRC. Depending on the customer set, I used all of these at one point or other.
Sample report card elements
- Listens actively to what I say; asks questions to clarify her understanding of what I have said
- Is genuinely interested in my problems and issues I am dealing with
- Always returns my calls or e-mails promptly
- Takes the time to get to know me personally
- Never breaks a promise made to me
- Talks to me in common language rather than using internal jargon
- Actively participates in helping to solve the problems in my organization
- Pro-actively sends me unsolicited information on solutions that I should consider to my problems
- Says “I’m sorry” when they screw up
- Acts like my partner in business
- Takes ownership of my problems inside their organization. There is no question that they are my champion inside their organization
- Is a service recovery addict. When their organization has made a service blunder with me, they take total responsibility for the matter and will stop at nothing to get the matter resolved FAST and to my satisfaction
Prepare for sales shock
When the initial report card results are in, be prepared for the “deer in the headlights” shock response from reps who received negative feedback as more likely than not most of them have never received direct feedback from their customers on their performance.
The typical response from a rep is OMG! They are mortified with the fact that their performance as judged by their customer is subpar and that improvement is needed.
In my experience, some reps can’t handle it and decide that a culture where the customer is front and center in performance evaluation is not for them; they move on.
Besides getting an accurate view of each rep in terms of their relationship building skills, the act of having your customer actively engaged in the CRC process will bring them closer to you and definitely enhance their loyalty.
They will appreciate being asked to be involved and will tell others how progressive your organization is.
Yes, sales management should play an active role in rating sales performance but without the views of the customer, you have an incomplete and biased perspective.