Sales Performance Management is Changing

The battle for the minds and hearts of your customers isn’t the only thing that matters. You also need to win the minds and hearts of your sales people. As much as sales performance is key to business success, the engagement and motivation of your sales people is just as important.

As businesses realize this, employee productivity and satisfaction are becoming a focal point for many companies, and specifically the concept of “workplace design” is taking center stage. Workplace design isn’t about cool sofas or free drinks – it is about creating an environment that is conducive to productivity and an emotional well-being for the employee.

This touches on everything – from how to explain sales goals to employees, train them to do it well, and how to give them feedback and coaching on what needs to be improved.

The Performance Review is Dead or Dying

Recent changes in HR practices demonstrate how the emphasis is moving towards making work better for employees. For instance, the famous performance review, a longtime staple in modern employee management practices, is almost dead. Accenture and Deloitte, which implemented such practices, announced that they were no longer endorsing the practice.

The reason for the imminent death of the performance review? It takes too long and costs too much. Additionally, research shows it isn’t objective at all – managers tended to put in subjective metrics that actually didn’t support the attempt at objective measurement.

Employees weren’t receptive to the process either, since the review was tied to compensation and promotion, turning whatever feedback was in there into a threatening experience. When you’re evaluated on a numerical scale you’re not going to be receptive to feedback about your work performance. Instead, you will be battling your internal “fight or flight” instincts.

Real Time Goal Setting is Becoming Mainstream

The death of the performance review is causing a separation between feedback and goal setting (which are about guiding the employee) and review (tying performance to compensation). Additionally, the timing in which feedback and goal setting occurs is changing.

Instead of stale goals that are a year old, many companies have come to the understanding that the practice of annual or even quarterly goal setting should be broken. Not only does the performance review not make sense in comparison to year-old goals, but meaningful feedback also can’t be given in such time frames.

As any sales manager knows, annual and even quarterly goals can quickly turn stale. Updating them often and tracking results is the only way to keep employee performance aligned with corporate goals. That’s why many companies are now setting shorter term goals that are reflected to the employee and tracked in real time.

This means that the ability to communicate goals in real time – based on the idea behind the practice of Objectives and Key Results – is becoming mainstream in many businesses. Instead of communicating sales goals quarterly, the idea is to break down requirements into a set of achievable and personalized goals that can be communicated to employees.

That’s why another key principle of goal setting is that it needs to be personalized. Setting goals that people can’t achieve is no longer considered a good way of motivating people – and that’s why goals need to be personalized, based on past performance, role, geography, experience, and more.

Real time here isn’t a buzzword. As many sales managers know, goals constantly change over the quarter or month. At one point it may be crucial to generate leads – at another to close. Setting real time goals can reflect this – putting a different relative importance on various sales activities as the quarter progresses.

Learning is Earning

Ask any sales manager about their pain points and one of the sorest will be learning or training. When companies change their product or service offering, they become dependent on whether employees will learn these new offerings and be able to sell them to their customers. If the employees aren’t aware of what’s new, it may not be sold. Thus, the company may be stuck with selling old products, or service offerings that aren’t optimal.

That’s why new product introductions are a sensitive point for many sales managers. In addition, training always comes in handy – how to deal with negative customer responses, how to discuss the competition, new applications for the product, etc. As a result, many companies are now spending more on learning and development.

Just like companies are now trying harder to attract, recruit and retain employees, employees also know that constant learning is a main factor that will underlie their future earning power. “Learning is earning” is something employees believe in. The trick is to tie learning (preferably micro-learning) into the goal setting and performance management – prompting learning as part of the performance management process.

The Future of Performance Management? A Fitbit for Sales

So, what is the future of sales performance management? The future of sales performance management is taking all of the above, mixing in some gamification, and creating a system that enables:

  • Continuous goal setting: so goals can be adjusted as they evolve throughout the month, quarter, or year.
  • Personalization: goals set should be personalized for employees, to enable each person to work against a realistic benchmark that they can achieve.
  • Real time: both goal setting and goal tracking should be in real time, showing how each and every employee is doing so they self-correct their course.
  • Learning: including micro-learning segments in any goals, highlighting required micro-learning whether for new product introduction or to help employees correct when they are not meeting their KPIs.

These types of platforms – sales performance management with gamification and real time feedback – are the new breed of gamification for sales. Their result? Better alignment and better workplace design, better controlling the employee experience in a way that will optimize their potential and the business as a whole.

Gal RimonToday’s post is by guest-author, Gal Rimon, Founder & CEO of GamEffective, a comprehensive enterprise gamification platform that supports sales, customer service, social collaboration, elearning and more.