It’s Appraisal Time!

Welcome back! Whether you are a frontline sales professional, or you are managing/leading a team of sales professionals, you will (should) be thinking about annual appraisals.

Here are some thoughts ….

A company’s performance appraisal process is critically important. It answers the two questions that every member of an organisation wants to know:

•          What do you expect of me?

•          How am I doing at meeting your expectations?

Regular assessments and appraisals are essential, if individuals are to continually expand their “skills set”, and should deliver three key benefits for an organisation:

•          A clear career path for progression (which typically seems to motivate salespeople who operate in a business-to-business environment)

•          Evidence of the return on investment made in developing people, so organisations are encouraged to sustain ongoing development

•          A clear benchmark for salespeople and sales managers, so that they know what is expected of them

Every manager has to appraise subordinates and the mechanics of it vary from ticking little boxes, through marking on five-point scales, to writing an open ended report. However, in all cases the primary purpose of an appraisal is to help the subordinate.

Why Appraise?  Reasons for an Appraisal

•          To provide feedback of individual performance

•          To plan for future promotions and successions

•          To assess training and development needs

•          To provide information for salary planning and special awards

•          To contribute to corporate career planning

The five key elements of the performance appraisal are

•          Measurement – Assessing performance against agreed targets and objectives.

•          Feedback – Providing information to the individual on their performance and progress.

•          Positive reinforcement – Emphasizing what has been done well and making only constructive criticism about what  might be improved.

•          Exchange of views – A frank exchange of views about what has happened, how appraisees can improve their performance, the support they need from their managers to achieve this and their aspirations for their future career.

•          Agreement – Jointly coming to an understanding by all parties about what needs to be done to improve performance generally and overcome any issues raised in the course of the discussion.

So when considering the design of an appropriate sales team appraisal document, what are the areas you should consider including?

This will be very much a personal decision based on relevancy. For example, if you manage an internal, predominantly reactive sales force, reviewing presentation skills or meeting ratios will be totally irrelevant.

If you have read any of my work before, you will, in all probability, know that I work with a very simple formula when it comes to sales team development and measurement – i.e.

Attitude + Skills + Process + Knowledge = Success

I arrived at this conclusion many years ago and my initial reasoning was this:

Attitude is fundamental to any achievement because individuals with the right attitude are far more likely to embrace the essential skills, recognize the control that process brings and have the desire to continually expand their knowledge.

Skills are the ‘tools of the trade’ and have to be developed on an ongoing basis. They also need to be specific, because too much time can be wasted over-burdening employees with inappropriate and irrelevant skills without any identifiable plan for their future requirements.

Process brings organisation, efficiency and control – both for the individual and for management. Effective process provides objective analysis and indicators, which can be benchmarked and accurately measured.

Then there is of course a need to build in knowledge and that must include knowledge of products, industry, market sectors, competitors, business, own company and last but not least, self!

Therefore, when measuring my own teams, I always ensure that I benchmark against that criteria.

You should find this free EBook useful - “How to Plan, Prepare and Conduct an Appraisal”


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