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Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep Coaching-Performance Reviews

Authored by Ric Ratkowski on November 21, 2020

This is a continuation of the previous two blogs on sales rep coaching.  This blog focuses on reviewing the sales rep’s overall performance during a one-on-one.  In a series of weekly one-on-one meetings this topic typically comes up once every four weeks.  

Just to recap, the first blog reviewed how sales rep coaching fits within the sales management process and outlined best practices related to “call coaching”, one aspect of sales rep coaching.  The next blog focused on sales manager/sales rep coaching best practices related to sales pipeline reviews and detailed opportunity reviews.  This blog along with content from the blog “Best Practices for B2B Sales - Proactive Follow Up & Content Delivery” finishes up the Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep/Sales Manager One-on-Ones.

The following table is a summary of this best practice.

Summary Best Practices for B2B Sales - Performance Reviews

Reviewing Sales Rep Performance

Although the sales number is often the most attention-getting metric for sales review meetings, there are a lot of other elements that go into creating the final sales number and managing sales rep performance.  Measuring and monitoring those other elements can provide insight into development areas to focus on for each sales rep.

There are five questions to answer when reviewing sales rep performance:

  1. How is the sales rep doing
  2. How healthy is their sales pipeline
  3. How are they trending
  4. How do they compare to their peers
  5. What are the developmental areas they need to focus on.

These questions can be answered by reviewing both the current and past sales metrics for this sales rep and for her/his peers.

While the top number to monitor is the sales number.  Directly below the sales number is four metrics Forrester|SiriusDecisions calls “foundational” in the sales measurement process:

  • Volume - how much does the sales rep have in each stage of the sales cycle
  • Deal Size - What is the average size of a won opportunity
  • Conversion Rate - How efficiently are deals converting through the sales process
  • How fast are opportunities moving through the sales cycle

Below these foundational numbers there are supporting metrics.

Volume isn’t only about how much is in the sales pipeline but how does the sales pipeline break down by stage and how long have the opportunities been in each stage.  Volume in many cases has two variations, volume in dollars and volume in number of opportunities.  Dividing the two is average deal size.  

Average deal size is a key metric but it has many variations.  Average deal size of won deals is one key variation, but comparing it to the deal size of all deals also provides valuable information.  It helps to understand if the sales process, the sales rep or the solution is more acceptable to certain size companies than all companies.  Looking at average deal size by industry, company size or ideal customer profile also provides insights into where the solution fits best.

Conversion rates go beyond just the close-won conversion rate.  Conversion rate can be applied:

  • From stage to stage to understand if there is a particular stage where deals are getting stuck
  • Across both close-won and close-lost opportunities by reason to understand if there is a weakness in the sales process for particular industries/customer size or any market segment
When viewing conversion rates it is important to look at them for all deals and for those deals the sales rep committed to closing.  The former is a good comparison across sales reps to understand how efficient the sales rep is when converting leads to closed deals.  The latter helps better calculate the sales forecast by understanding applying that percentage to the current sales rep commit.

How fast deals move through the sales cycle helps the sales team become more predictive.  

In addition to drilling down into the information supporting the foundational metrics, bench-marking is a powerful way to move the needle in sales rep performance.  That is, comparing a sales rep’s metrics to other sales reps in their team or across the entire sales organizations.  Bench-marking provides a baseline of data specific to your organization.  It helps dispel arguments that “all” sales reps are having the same problem.  It helps separate high from low performers and it helps hone in on behavior patterns that help improve sales rep performance..

Pulling it all together.

More data and metrics and better data quality leads to better questions, insights and decisions.  However, sales managers are not hired for their analytic prowess, they are hired or promoted because they were successful sales reps.  Rather than forcing sales managers to understand analytics the best practice is the system should provide insights based on multiple data points and guide the sales manager to the areas requiring the most attention.

The last characteristic to consider when putting it all together is drill down to the lowest level of detail, the opportunity.  Nothing disrupts a meeting more when someone questions the accuracy of the data.  “I don’t think that is right!" "I closed more deals than that", "I closed a higher value than that."  That objection is easily resolved if the sales manager can drill in on the number of closed deals, list them and ask which ones are missing or which ones didn’t close for the amount shown.

Best Practices, Baseline, Good, Better, Best

At the baseline level, managers and reps do not prepare for their performance review meetings, they just “wing it.” They learn how the sales rep is performing in their meeting, by gut feel after talking to the sales reps about their sales pipeline and different sales situations.  Sales rep performance coaching frequency is inconsistent and the process is very informal across the organization.  The sales manager comments and observations are also very inconsistent across the company.  This results in under-utilizing  sales enablement tools and effort.  In summary, the baseline level is more of a best effort with minimal support to the sales manager and does not support a strategically managed sales team.

At the good level, the sales manager invests the time and effort to gather information from multiple CRM reports, usually merging the data in Excel.  In many cases, there are information gaps in what they collect and it is very time consuming process for the sales manager.  Also, since sales managers typically create the performance information on their own, there is also a lack of consistent coaching across the organization, but it is a step in the right direction.  At an enterprise level this solution does not scale and is typically  inconsistently delivered.

At the better level the system provides a sales rep coaching report that includes all the necessary analysis to measure sales rep performance.  Sales managers are still left to draw their own conclusions.  Sales rep coaching is more consistent because the preparation work is minimized and the reports are standardized.  The coaching report provides the necessary information including:

  • Volume
  • Average Deal Size
  • Conversion Rates
  • Sales Cycle

To understand the health of the sales pipeline the profile report shows a summary of the sales pipeline by pipeline stage.  This also shows how much time is spent in each stage compared to close-won deals to understand how this person compares to the rest of the company and the quality of the sales pipeline by analyzing how old opportunities are in the sales pipeline for this rep/manager compared to close-won opportunities.

Sales Rep Performance by sales stage

 Volume also need to be reviewed as a  trend over time for:

  • Number of “Closed Won” opportunities
  • Number of “Closed Lost” opportunities by close-loss reason.
  • New Opportunities added to the sales pipeline this period
  • Opportunities pushed out from the prior sales period to this sales period
  • Number of opportunities that have been pushed multiple times that are in this sales period

Sales Rep win/loss performance

The following is an example of showing average deal size over time for a sales rep.  Showing a average deal size  across multiple sales periods is important to understand if the sales rep is getting better or worse.Sales Rep Bookings

Below is an example of Conversion rates including:

  • Comprehensive win rate - the win rate of all closed opportunities to total opportunities
  • Scheduled to win rate - win rate of opportunities scheduled to close in a given sales period
  • Scheduled to win opps - count of opportunities scheduled to close in a given period

There are additional metrics  normally grouped with conversion rates to help understand sales rep performance including:

  • Bookings, the dollar value of opportunities closed to date in the period.
  • Commit Bookings (bookings committed by the sales rep that actually closed)
  • Commit Win Rate - percent of opportunities committed and won vs all committed opportunities.
  • Commit $ - opportunities committed by the sales rep to close this period.

Sales Rep Deal size analysis

Lastly, the following is an example of measuring cycle times for both close-won and close-loss opportunities over time:

Sales Rep Cycle Analysis

At the best level the system provides a sales rep coaching report that includes all the necessary metrics identified above plus the interpretation of those metrics to coach the sales rep and peer to peer analysis of the sales reps compared to other sales reps.  The first image below provides an example of those interpretations along with training links to help the sales rep learn how to create better results in the future via Brainshark.:

Sales Rep Insights

This next example below shows how bench-marking could work.  This is a sales manager's view  so these numbers are aggregation or averages of their direct reports.  A peer review can be done on any metric by clicking on the icon  as shown in the report below.

.Sales Rep Peer to Peer Analysis 

At the best level sales rep performance reviews are effortless for the sales manager and they are consistent across the company.  Sales managers also have  the ability to bench-mark sales reps to other sales reps for comparison.

The image below provides an complete example of the Sales Rep Profile report.  It  provides a summary level of how the sales rep is performing based on their current pipeline, their forecast and how they are trending over the last five sales periods.  It includes all the content described above.  If the sales manager clicks on any of the insights on the right, the system highlights the metrics that support those insights. (click on the image below to expand)

Sales Rep Profile Report

 

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