As a sales leader, you are in a unique position. You are judged almost solely by the performance of others. If the team doesn’t perform, you’re to blame.
It’s not the team.
In the book Extreme Ownership the author claims “there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”
Is that fair? Yes. Think back to your days as a rep, you know that success in sales is one-part self-motivation, two-parts persistence, and one-part effective leadership. You could control your results by managing the output.
But as a sales leader, you know everything your team does is a direct reflection of you, your training, and the culture you cultivate. The decisions they make each day now determine your success as a leader. When they do the activity that’s required of them or not; invest in becoming trained on the product or not, market and competitive landscape or not; meet or exceed quota or not.
If you’ve ever listened to a press conference after a game, you may have noticed how if the team wins, the coach speaks in the universal we, as in “We really came together” or “We just worked the plan and played to win.”
But if the team loses, the greatest coaches take that loss and place it squarely on their own shoulders.
Fair or not, the world is watching and judging the leader—and if your sales team fails to stack up to expectations, it’s because a collection of individuals didn’t perform. Leadership will be asking you, “How did you steer the team so off course, and how are you going to right the ship?”
There is only one answer to this question:
You need a better performance review process.
Assessing a sales representative’s performance is one of your key responsibilities as a sales leader. Sadly, the standard, “hire more reps” approach to hitting sales targets has caused performance reviews to take a back seat to hiring even more warm bodies and then playing the blame game when the numbers don’t magically add up. According to Forbes, it could cost over $200,000 to replace a B2B sales rep. Yet many sales teams have annual turnover of 25% or more.
If your goal is to accelerate and sustain the growth of your sales team (and this should be your goal), that industry-standard plan is not only archaic, but also grossly inadequate.
If your newly hired sales reps aren’t getting up to speed as you expected, how do you get to the bottom of the issues? Is it a motivation problem? Lack of product knowledge? Time management challenges? Unrealistic goals? Personal or home struggles? Team dynamics? Lack of persistence? Work ethic? Buy-in? Shortage of confidence?
You don’t know what you don’t know.
A proper 90 day performance assessments give you the answers you need to almost every challenge you could encounter as a sales leader.
I’ve done hundreds of 90 day reviews, and I’ve come to learn that a good review includes these three elements:
1. A Manager’s Assessment
2. A Rep’s Self-Assessment
3. A Team Culture Review
It doesn’t have to be hard or complicated—but it does have to happen, and it needs to happen the same for every team member.
The 90 day performance assessments, are formal 90-day reviews conducted with team members that are designed to: 1) evaluate and support each individual rep’s development and 2) ensure a high level of overall team performance.
The 90-day review is one of the defining characteristics of any successful sales organization.
Without a 90-day review process, you can unknowingly create a disconnect between you and your sales reps. Perhaps even more damaging, your sales reps may interpret the lack of formal feedback as “acceptable performance.”
No one likes confrontation, but that is the real beauty of the 90-day review. Set the expectation that no matter how well they perform, every rep will sit down for this review.
It’s not optional. It’s not just for the low performers. It’s the great equalizer for your team.
There is a well-defined process for performing reviews that is both proven and universally applicable for every personality type and every performance level. When you implement this process, you accelerate your progress on the path to sales consistency and growth.
Use the 90-day performance review as a tool for establishing and promoting excellence in your organization. For this reason, you should start talking about these reviews during the interview process, before you ever make a hire and before you ever begin on-boarding.
From the day they are hired, new reps already know they will undergo a formal evaluation within the first three months, based on the goals you and they set together.
This is no threat—in fact, when executed correctly, the assessment sets a positive and rewarding tone for a sales rep’s career with your organization.
A well-defined 90 day review process not only provides the leader with an objective benchmark for a new rep’s performance, but it also creates an opportunity for reps to appraise the team’s and your performance. This encourages them to see you as their supportive leader rather than their judgmental boss.
Through periodic reviews—both informal and formal ones—you have an opportunity to see how your sales reps are performing relative to their goals and to provide opportunities for early intervention.
The 90-day review sets the tone for a coaching culture, it establishes the rep’s expectation for performance appraisal, and clearly defines your role, as a leader in performance management.
I’ve created a 90 day review process that applies to all sales teams, regardless of industry or sales cycle. Feel free to download it and use it with your team. It will make you a better sales leader. It will give you more confidence that your new reps are ramping as you expect so that you can hit your sales targets.