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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Developing & Measuring - Salespeople & Management (Part 2)

Five criteria, in broad terms, should dominate our thinking at this point. Certainly, one must be measured against the numeric standards. They must also hear from their boss how their personal development is coming along. Their product knowledge presentation skills must be continually assessed, and their time and territory management skills must be formally reviewed. Lastly, an often overlooked criteria is customer service. Clients served must not be unhappy with either the company or the company’s representative.

To be fair, opportunity assessments must be evaluated. Sometimes, the market moves and changes and even the best salesperson needs “ripe” territory. Market studies and their associated analysis provide a foundation for evaluation. Geographic analysis and client mix are also important to aid in understand not only the salesperson but also the opportunities, the clients, and any unusual territory characteristics that may need to be considered when formal evaluations are being conducted.

So many times, business owners and sales managers really do not fully evaluate the things that matte to their businesses. Experience has taught us that one must know not only what the individual seller sold but they must also know what was lost. It is essential to know whether the territory is growing or declining. Competitive losses must be documented and discussed. Distinctions must be made between what is being sold to new customers and what is being added to the existing service base. So, all effective measurement systems monitor growth, new account numbers and dollars, existing account volume and service enhancement effectiveness, new market penetrations as directed by strategy, and relationship nurturing.

In its simplest form, the evaluator must ask, “Is this salesperson growing as an individual? Do they have the drive and determination it takes to learn the process of effective selling? Is constructive correction willingly sought and freely acted upon? How effectively do they manage their time and territory and how much of your time do they require? Is the significant investment in salary, sales education, coaching and evaluation reaping reasonable rewards both for the individual and the company within a respectable period of time?” With these questions answered, the reviewer can move on to asking the questions that matter more to the company than they do to the individual.

When our customers found where they were thought to be, did they buy what they were intended to buy, and am I finding an ever-growing number of clients who want more of what I sell at the price I’ve agreed to sell it?

All businesses must monitor their effectiveness in the marketplace. Experience has taught that salespeople thrive in an environment that clearly states what is expected of the salesforce in total, specifically what each person’s role in the organization is, and lays out from the start the specific criteria to which they will be held accountable.

A company that is growing its territories, its customer base, expanding its services, developing new products, and winning new accounts regularly, invariably have a “behind the scenes” measurement system that is consistent with the points previously made in this article.

Lastly, what formal documents are created when professional men and women meet to formally evaluate performance? Elaborate appraisal forms and statistical spreadsheets seem to be the most prevalent. The tool is not so important as is the fact that periodic “meetings of the minds” occur. Fundamentally stated, a company can afford to keep its salesforce only so long as they achieve their pre-stated goals.

Being an effective salesperson in today’s competitive world is a combination of constantly refining personal skills and behaviors accompanied by a management that genuinely cares about the hiring, coaching, and retention of individuals who are capable of responding to direction and guidance both willingly and eagerly. Then, working together in service to their markets and customers, they achieve and document the fact that they achieved what it was they set out to do.

Those who fall short, are given ample opportunity to improve. Those who fail at selling go on to something more suitable to their talents. Those who succeed enjoy the fruits of their labors.

In closing, effective salespeople drive themselves! They make evaluation time a time for reflection, but they are constantly self-evaluating and self-improving.

Great sales managers create environments where talented people not only survive – they thrive.

Effective business planners create plans and programs that are so measurable and specific that sales managers can understand them and salespeople can achieve them. All the while, at all levels of the organization, each individual is constantly setting their sights on even loftier goals for next time.

The individual who sells should constantly be seeking insight into both themselves, their company, and their customers. Measuring has many forms. What is most important is that the people who do the work feel god about what they do in service to others. One of the greatest joys of management is seeing someone you trained and coached achieve individual success. Nothing is sweeter than knowing that you were fair, firm, specific, and successful in developing, measuring and evaluating sales performance. The management of the total sales function can be an exciting and rewarding experience!

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