6 Key Tips to Evaluate Sales Rep Performance
From sales cycle length to average deal size, there is no shortage of sales metrics and KPIs you can use to evaluate your sales team’s performance.
But while sales is indeed a numbers game, you won’t do justice to your sales reps’ efforts and performance by only looking at a select few metrics (such as conversion rate).
There’s a lot more to successful sales than quantitative performance alone. To get a better sense of how your reps are performing, and consequently help them improve, there are some intangible aspects that you must keep in mind.
Here are six key tips to qualitatively evaluate your sales reps’ performance and uncover areas where you can help your reps improve.
Tip #1: Measure the Process, Don’t Fixate on the Final Numbers
It is entirely possible that some of your reps are closing a streak of good deals even if their approach isn’t the most optimal one. This kind of success can only last so long.
That’s why it’s important for you as a manager to monitor each rep’s performance and processes, not just the final numbers. Use a sales funnel that essentially guides your prospects through each stage of the buyer’s journey, from awareness and interest to the consideration and decision stage.
See how your reps are performing in each stage of the sales funnel, including touchpoints like:
The first contact or inbound inquiry
Discussions about the potential value derived from your product or service
The final closing
In other words, assess your reps not only on how well they close deals but on how well they do in each stage of the process. You may discover that some of your best closers struggle with the initial stages of warming up the prospect, and reps with lower conversion rates are great at qualifying leads initially.
This way, you identify each rep’s individual strengths and help your team improve as a whole.
Tip #2: Recognize and Promote Your Prospectors
This one deserves special attention. As their manager or leader, you could provide your sales reps’ spreadsheets chock full of contacts and potential customers, but they may still make their best sales from self-prospecting.
So while prospecting is often considered a lost art today, sales reps should still embrace the conventional way of prospecting and self-generating leads.
That being said, most modern sales reps don’t care much about prospecting. They don’t enjoy making cold calls or taking those initial indefinite steps that eventually may lead to closing the deal.
This indisposition means there is an opportunity to find a few good reps who truly love prospecting and are adept at it. They make prospecting an expert role within your sales team.
So you may have reps who struggle with closing deals or building lasting relationships, but what they have is an unrelenting drive to keep trying to find new prospects on their own and hopping on a call with them. These are your unsung heroes who are happily willing to do parts of the job that most others don’t want to do.
So, be sure to show some extra appreciation and recognition for reps that are motivated enough to do self-prospecting. Conduct team sessions from time to time so you can work with them to collectively brainstorm areas they can be prospecting.
Promote prospecting by pointing out different niches or customer segments your reps could target. After all, the more passionate they are about generating more leads, the more successful they’ll be in closing more deals.
Tip #3: Evaluate Their Knowledge
Efforts and results don’t necessarily translate into knowledge or skill. And make no mistake, your sales team’s level of knowledge around the following areas can be a key factor in your overall sales success:
Do your sales reps thoroughly understand your product? Can they answer any and every question about your company’s offerings? Before new product features are rolled out, do they take the time to learn about them?
Company Processes and Policies
Are your reps able to help take in new employees by answering the questions they might have about the company, its policies, and its offerings? Do they understand each and every aspect of your company’s sales process in a way they can explain it to the new team members?
At the heart of successful sales is the ability to clearly convey your value propositions against those of your competitors. And so, are your reps fully cognizant of your competitors, their products, and their stature in the eyes of the customers?
Last but not least, your sales team must know everything about your past and existing customers so that they can fluently convey relevant experiences to potential customers. The best reps can highlight exact metrics about particular customers that can help seal the deal.
And so, make sure your sales reps have solid knowledge around these four key areas of your company.
Tip #4: Have a Joint Sales Call
What better way to evaluate your sales reps’ performance than to be by their side as they go about their business. Joining your reps on a sales call, be it in-person or virtual, allows you to observe them in an actual sales scenario.
Joint calls are vital to know each individual rep’s strengths and weaknesses. They enable you as the manager to see firsthand where your reps are doing well and where they can use some extra training. You can give feedback directly and in real-time so your reps can work on improving their weak points right away.
The same can be done over conference calls. And later on, with a tool like Call Tracker, you can listen to sales call recordings and rate them using custom tags.
When observing your reps, consider how well they:
Establish credibility with the prospects: What phrases does your rep use to start the call? How confident are they during the interaction? How did they use marketing collaterals, case studies, anecdotes, etc. to build trust?
Listen to the prospects: Sales isn’t all talking and pitching, rather it’s more of listening to what the prospects want. See how well your reps listen and take notes of what the prospect has to say.
Handle objections: Nearly every sales call involves tackling objections from the prospects. How do your reps deal with objections? Do they use the right words and respond reassuringly to address the prospect’s concerns?
Provide a personalized solution: Do your reps tailor their presentation to each prospect or merely pitch the same product features each time? Your prospects want a custom solution and expect a personalized approach from your end, so your reps should be selling based on the buyer’s perception of value.
Furthermore, there are a couple of best practices to keep in mind to have joint sales calls that are truly effective:
Chalk Out a Plan Before the Joint Call
As with any sales call, proper preparation is vital. So, create a plan that outlines your role as a manager during the call, the purpose of the call itself, who is at the other end, and questions or ideas that will be discussed. Role-play the joint call once to ensure that the plan is understood by you and the rep.
Fight the Urge to Take Over
There’ll at least be a few instances where you’ll be tempted to step in and correct the course. Swooping in once or twice (when absolutely needed) is fine, but doing so too often will demotivate your reps. Remember, your purpose is to observe and enable the rep to succeed in front of the prospects, not create a dependency on you.
Give Constructive, Bite-Sized Feedback
It goes without saying that how you deliver feedback ties heavily with your team’s morale. Delivering feedback in a constructive manner is how your reps will be motivated to do better. Also, hearing that they need to change their entire approach all at once can be severely dispiriting, so provide feedback in bite-sized chunks.
Joint sales calls provide an excellent opportunity to optimize your sales coaching as they don’t require the rep to translate hypothetical scenarios to real-life situations. As their leader, you can see precisely where your coaching efforts need to be directed for each individual rep, and thus, maximize the effectiveness of your training.
Tip #5: Appreciate Teamwork and Other Efforts
Again, there are plenty of sales metrics to analyze your team’s performance. And while impressive numbers are pivotal in your reps’ performance evaluation — their personal efforts, teamwork, and overall attitude isn’t something you can overlook.
Here are a few miscellaneous areas you should monitor in your reps:
Presentation skills: See if your sales reps give their best in creating and delivering sales presentations. Do they ensure each slide is error-free? Do they simply read from a script or put effort into having a two-way conversation to make the presentation more engaging?
Planning: Sales calls are all about intensive planning. The best reps dive deep to learn as much as possible about the prospect and deal before proceeding with the sales call.
Time management: How do your reps manage their time? Are they able to tackle all their work effectively within a set amount of time? Do they use their free time to learn new tactics or skills? Time management and a drive to continuously upskill oneself are commendable traits to look out for.
Make it a point to recognize and appreciate all these efforts during the performance evaluation.
Also, strong teamwork is essential in sales. You don’t want an army of lone wolves focused only on hitting their sales quotas. Instead, you want a team of skilled individuals working as a unit to drive more sales for the company.
So, try to assess things like who goes out of their way to help their teammates. Reward reps who promote teamwork and inclusiveness.
Tip #6: Improve Your Feedback Process
As mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to deliver feedback in a way that encourages reps to give their best moving forward. Apart now from being constructive and providing feedback in bite-sized chunks, here’s a three-step approach to structure your feedback process:
Keep Doing: Start on a positive note with examples of the great work they’re doing and should continue to do so.
Stop Doing: Next, talk about things they shouldn’t do in order to improve their output.
Start Doing: Conclude with (at most) a couple of priority action items that they should start incorporating into their sales calls.
This way, your sales reps won’t feel overwhelmed or become defensive — they’ll be motivated to keep leveling up their sales game.
Over to You
So there you have it. Keep these six tips in mind to go beyond numbers when evaluating your sales reps’ performance, and you’ll build an unstoppable sales team that’s not only driven to sell but also do it well.
Photo by Austin Distel