How to find balance in sales performance analysis

By Henrik Troselius - April 27, 2018

When reviewing performance reports for sales and profits, we often look for causation of performance and areas of improvement. Without this methodology, we may never crack the code to sales and continue to grow our businesses, and it's often thoroughly completing analysis that makes the difference for successful organisations. But one crucial part of performance analysis as we've discussed before, is personal accountability, and ensuring your sales staff are reflecting on their own performance. So how do you find the right balance between your staff taking ownership of their results, and you measuring the hard numbers? Think about it as the balance between "hard" and "soft" analysis, and it comes down to managing expectations, follow-through, and consistency.

Help manage your staff member's expectations - and make sure they manage yours

One of the purposes of setting goals together with each of your team members (or setting goals for them and ensuring they accept them), is that this way you begin on the same page. Without knowing what you expect for their performance, sales associates may be unsure or insecure about what you want from them. But they should also be helping to manage your expectations.

For example, if they aren't performing to their normal standard, or may be unable to hit their goal, they need to make you aware. If you believe your team members are performing well, but look at the hard numbers and see this isn't the reality, there can be feelings of mistrust and disappointment. Through continuous self-evaluation and "soft" analysis, your staff should be honest about how they're doing, so that there are no surprises at the end of the period. But potentially your staff can be able to track their own numbers and do a "hard" analysis, so that they are given a dose of reality if they are quick to inflate their perceived performance - or even to boost their confidence if they're doing better than they thought.

Follow up and follow through

Similarly to managing expectations, you need to be following up with your staff regarding their goal setting and self-evaluation. While these are great methods for engaging your team and ensuring they have a level of self-awareness regarding performance that is necessary for "soft" analysis, it shouldn't be all there is for accountability. When you follow up with them in terms of talking to them about problems they've encountered or any new products or sales methodology that have been recently implemented, it can allow for more transparency within your organisation and give you better insight when you do conduct your "hard" analysis.

Likewise, sales staff should never feel that they are given new tools or instructions and then are simply left up to their own devices. Trainings, coachings, inspirational sales meetings with opportunities for discussion are much more effective in ensuring your team will have success. You can then track the effect of these activities on the sales performance, and analyze what works best for the members of your team.

And none of it will work without consistency

One of the real keys to success in the balance of sales performance analysis is that you are keeping consistent. Consistency is also a breeder of trust and accountability, and also allows you to properly see the causes and effects in your results.

When you implement soft and hard analysis together in your sales process, these acts should become ingrained. Skipping over certain exercises, or not following through can make you miss-interpret or misunderstand improvements or declines in performance. Think of implementing growth activities for sales as a scientific experiment. When testing a hypothesis, there typically needs to be a "control" in which to compare results of the experiment to. The same goes for sales. If you don't have consistent implementation and use the same activities for performance analysis, you may find it difficult to understand what is causing positive or negative change in your results.

Through consististency, your staff will also be able to better go through their sales process. As with anything, balancing soft and hard performance analysis takes practice, and practice can't make perfect without consistency.

While it's important to engage sales staff throughout the sales process, there should be an efficient balance between analyzing hard performance metrics, and the soft values of employee self-evaluation and results of coaching and training. But through this balance, you can best identify the activities leading to positive results, and help your sales staff to be individually accountable while creating a more transparent sales organisation.

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