Effectively Managing Performance in Your Team

Quantity, Direction and Quality

Performance management is a bit like going to the gym; it’s one of those things that everyone talks about doing, but not many actually do (at least not effectively). To have a fit and healthy sales organisation, you need a successful performance management process in place, otherwise you will be slower and a bit out of shape. It is the job of the sales manager to manage the members of their team and implement and deliver a PM process when necessary to ensure all players are fit. Being able to do this effectively will reward you with a high performing team.

For the larger teams I have worked with in the past, I have used a strict PM process, e.g. for one large EMEA team, any salesperson achieving less than 50% of target for two quarters in a row would automatically go onto a performance management process.

What does performance management mean?

If you are leading any team you need all members of that team to be consistently performing to a level that will allow the business to achieve its overall objectives. If there are people that are inconsistent or delivering below the standard that you need, the performance management process should then be implemented to raise the individual back up to the level that is required to hit target. Or, if they are unable to perform to the level required to give you the structure to take the most appropriate action with a considered and just approach.

What does it look like?

Believe it or not, performance management should be a positive experience. If a salesperson is underperforming for a certain amount of time, they will not be content and it will be affecting their confidence. You must not ignore it; you need a process to help them to increase performance in a transparent manner. Investing time with the individual by clarifying targets, training and coaching should give them the support they need to improve performance to the level needed. With the cost of recruitment so high, we must try our hardest to make our hires work out. However, if the underperformance continues with the performance management in place, then you will have to come to a point where you question whether the role is right for that individual.

When to implement a PM process?

When I first diagnose an underperformer, I apply a rough algorithm. It is a model called QDQ and brings focus to the three key things that a salesperson needs to do to be successful. When looking at an underperformer, it is usually because one or more of these are not happening. You need all three for success.

Q = Quantity

D = Direction

Q = Quality

Firstly, Quantity may be the amount of calls, the number of meetings or proposals being sent by the salespeople. Or, with regards to account management, whether they close enough to their accounts, speaking to enough people, spending enough time at events or onsite, etc. Are the activity levels high enough for them to achieve the desired result? During the performance management process you can set very clear activity targets to ensure this is not the issue.

Direction signifies whether they are focused in the right way. Are they calling the right people, targeting the right accounts or markets, promoting the right offers, attending the right events, and pushing the right solutions? It doesn’t matter how many calls they make, if they are aimed in the wrong direction, then their efforts are futile. Make sure they are clear on where they should be spending their effort.

Finally, Quality. This is the value that is being created when the salesperson is conversing with clients or potential clients. Their activity levels may be high and aimed to exactly the right target audience – but if the quality of their calls, meetings, or written work is poor, then they will not get the result. You will need to attend meetings with them, listen to calls, read through their proposals – and you will know if the quality is there.

If you use this easy model to establish what is going wrong, 99% of the time you will get your answer, and then you can provide the support needed to make the improvements needed. Often the individual will appreciate the support and the clarity of feedback that you are providing. However, what happens when you spend time with someone and it appears that they have got all three correct? This has happened to me previously and after thorough observation, I was reassured he was doing everything right. The solution in this instance was time, the one magic ingredient that no one can control. We just needed to give him more time – which we did, and a year later he was one of my top performers!

As a sales manager, you are only as strong as your weakest link, so if you have an underperforming team member there is no point in avoiding the issue – tackle it head on to get them performing, or move them on to a position in which they can succeed.

If you would like to understand more about implementing a performance management process as a sales manager, then please click here.

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