The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    The Sales Skills Audit: A New Kind of Performance Review

    by Sarah Wirth / June 11, 2014

    Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography

    Almost every sales manager hates doing performance reviews.  And why wouldn’t they? Most of the time, they’ve been handed a form from their human resources department that isn’t specific to sales and that forces them to write long paragraphs of feedback about areas that may not be relevant to achieving success in their role. 

    Moreover, after so much writing, each review starts to feel and sound the same, so the managers question how much value they are even adding through the review process.  This is why EcSell Institute recommends a new kind of performance review for a sales team – the sales skills audit (see form here: Sales Rep Annual Skills Audit (Performance Review).

    The sales skills audit provides an easy and concise way for a sales manager to provide performance feedback to their reps on the skills that are most critical to driving more sales.  In this way, the sales skills audit is very targeted and sales-specific.  Additionally, the sales skills audit is quick to use. 

    Rather than writing paragraphs on irrelevant traits, the sales manager simply rates the sales rep in each critical skills area on a one to five scale, and then shares ideas for further developing or leveraging that skill. The rating helps ensure that the rep knows where they are doing well and where to improve.  Simply put, the number helps cut down on miscommunication.  Also, rather than taking hours to write a typical performance review, the sales managers can complete the sales skills audit in just 30 minutes and have their feedback be more relevant to developing the rep’s sales skills.

    Completing and using the sales skills audit for delivering performance feedback is easy and fast by following these simple steps:

    1) The sales manager completes the sales skills audit form by grading the sales rep’s skills on a scale of one to five. If the rep is newer to the role and the skill can’t be assessed, the manager can just leave the skill blank. Also, the manager writes notes in the comments/ recommendations section about ways to further develop or leverage the rep’s skills in this area.

    2) If desired, the sales managers can have the rep complete their own skills self-assessment.  This self-assessment is helpful in gaining clarity around how the rep views their own performance and wants to improve their skills. The sales manager can then use this information to tailor their coaching accordingly.

    3) After both manager and rep have completed the sales skills audit, they review them together and determine follow-up steps.  Each shares their skill ratings, reasons for them and discusses follow-up ideas.  During this conversation, the sales manager may change their ratings or comments / recommendations based on what they learn from and discuss with the rep.

    4) After the conversation, the sales manager can submit the final form to human resources as a completed performance review.  Of course, it’s important for a sales manager to check with their HR person as to whether this type of form satisfies the organization’s requirements for a performance review. If necessary, the sales skills audit can be use to supplement a more traditional performance review.

    In summary, it’s critical for sales managers to focus on providing clear performance feedback that is targeted toward helping a rep improve their sales skills.  When a sales manager coaches their rep on their selling skills, they are helping them improve their ability to achieve their sales goal.  And as a sales manager, there is nothing you can do that is more important.

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    Tags: Performance Reviews Coaching Sales People

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    Sarah Wirth

    Sarah Wirth

    Sarah Wirth is the president of Ecsell Institute and has over 20 years of experience in employee assessment, leadership development, sales executive coaching, and customer service. She has presented to executives from across the globe with organizations such as Mercedes Benz, Estee Lauder, Ritz Carlton, Cheesecake Factory and many more.