How to Measure Performance in a Bad Economy

  Guest blog by Tony Smith, The Brooks Group,

Kathleen recently asked my opinion on how to best measure a candidate and their results in today’s down economy. In thinking about this, I came to the conclusion that the answer to this question is actually the same as it would be in a better economy.

 The sales manager is responsible for coaching a candidate to maximize their success in the field.  The problem is that many managers focus on end-process measurement, which is measuring a candidate’s results relative to their ability to achieve goal or quota, as opposed to in-process measurement.   In-processmeasurement occurs when you measure throughout the sales process.  Is your salesperson investigating properly?  What about pre-call planning and prospecting?   Do they meet the prospect in the right way?  Are they able to build trust and rapport?  Are they asking the right questions and presenting appropriate solutions?   The job of any sales manager is to be able to answer two questions:  1) Where are you in the sales process?  2) What are the next steps?   In a down economy, the end goal is a specific result which may or may not be obtained.  Goals may have been unrealistic to begin with due to current economic conditions.  Budgets have been trimmed and, in some cases, organizations have put a freeze on buying.  Depending on what you are selling, even if you think you do bring value, you may not be able to get around this fact. Simply measuring a candidate’s results against a goal is easy, but does not get at the heart of the truth that the right activities drive the right results.   Every action that a salesperson takes creates an outcome.  This is where you need to be measuring your candidates, because they are producing outcomes even if they are not meeting their goals.   Most sales managers do not focus on this because in-process measurement requires more time. But it is critical in this economy that the candidate be measured on in-process measurement, because the real goal of the salesperson should be to be in front of qualified prospects when they are ready to buy and not when you need to make a sale.   In order to do this effectively and measure a salesperson properly, sales managers must be in the field.  They cannot lead the sales team from behind a desk.  This requires more time, but it is the only way to measure a candidate in today’s turbulent times.  If your salespeople master the sales process but are not meeting goals, then the goal is unobtainable.   Organizations must realize this and be prepared to work through these turbulent times.  However, you must first make sure that your salespeople know exactly what to do.  Sales will still be made. The question is, will your salespeople be the ones making those sales or will it be the competition?   Too many sales teams simply do not know how to properly sell.  They are using outdated techniques that are no longer effective in the marketplace.