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Sales Coaching & Assessment Part 2: How To Assess Sales Rep Performance & Become a Strategic Coach

Sales Coaching & Assessment Part 2: How To Assess Sales Rep Performance & Become a Strategic Coach

In our last post, Is What You Learned About Sales Coaching and Performance Assessment Wrong?, we asked a tough question: Are you developing the wrong people with your sales training? With this post, we’re going to explore another big mistake in sales coaching and performance assessment: Measuring behaviors instead of results.    

Four Sales Coaching Categories to Become a Strategic Coach

To develop the most effective coaching strategy to improve sales rep performance, we need to not only look at a rep’s desire to change but also at another critical component: results. 

Determining results for our reps is relatively simple. Based on the last six months (this number can change dramatically based on the complexity of solution and sales cycle), where are your reps in relationship to their quotas or sales goals? 

When these two measures — results and desire to change — are combined, you will see that every rep on your team will fall into one of four strategic coaching categories: 

Independents: Reps who are meeting or exceeding the required performance levels but show little or no desire to change. 

Detractors: Reps who have substandard performance and lack the willingness to change.

Strivers: Reps who have a strong desire to improve and grow but are not meeting the required performance levels. 

Achievers: Reps who have a strong desire to develop and grow and are meeting or exceeding the required performance levels. 

Once each sales team member is categorized into one of the four categories, you now can implement the appropriate strategy and determine where to spend your time.

Sales Strategy for Independents

Since Independents are unwilling to follow a development plan, very little coaching time is required. They are meeting their performance requirements and don’t want to change the way they go about selling, so your approach should be to shift your focus from “developing” (coaching) to “leading” by instilling a desire to achieve a higher level of performance. The agenda for your meetings should be to expose their need to change by discovering their desire to achieve more and connecting that desire with the skills needed to reach their goal. Your approach is to communicate your desire to work with them clearly, but until they exhibit a willingness to invest, why waste the time? 

Additionally, by focusing on the reps who are motivated to grow (Strivers and Achievers), you may be able to raise the average level of performance for the entire team, upping the minimum acceptable level of performance for everyone. And by “raising the bar,” more will be required of the Independent to stay afloat. As the saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” 

Sales Strategy for Detractors

This puzzling rep category is probably the most significant drain on a manager’s time and emotions. Detractors aren’t hitting their numbers and don’t want to change. Therefore, the time invested in Detractors should be minimal (~5%). Like Independents, your strategy is not to roll up your sleeves and work on skills but to focus on the barriers to change (leading).

Secondly, it is important to be clear about the required level of performance (managing). We simply communicate what needs to be achieved, the specific time frame, and the clear consequences if results don’t rise to an acceptable level. Again, no coaching is offered until initiated by the rep. 

It is important to note that when a manager shifts the responsibility of development to the rep, and the rep feels the full weight of ownership, that alone may spark the desire to change. When the tug of war ends and the manager Drops the Rope®, the rep is left with a clear decision – to grow or admit they are unwilling to change. Faced with that realization, many will make the right decisions. But whether the desire to change ignites, you just freed up a tremendous amount of time to focus on reps who are open to receiving help. 

Sales Strategy for Strivers

This category of reps is where you will see the greatest return on your coaching investment and the greatest opportunity to enhance the overall performance of your team. Strivers embrace the idea that they need to improve and are open to input and ideas for improvement. Therefore, this is where you spend the majority of your coaching efforts. Of course, you still need to be clear about performance requirements, but a bit more grace should be granted if they are committed to the prescribed development plan.

Sales Strategy for Achievers

Second, only to the Striver, managers should invest a considerable amount of time with the Achievers. These are the stars of the team who have a desire to improve continually. Here the strategy should be to grow, challenge, and retain. They may not need the same amount of one-on-one development, but unless you offer a path to growth, whether through you or another mentor, you will likely lose the Achiever.

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