Getting the best out of your sales team is much more than setting targets and doing the odd formal performance reviews.
It’s important to take a page out of the book of motivational managers and provide ongoing feedback, says Lisa Hunter, national business manager for Elephant HR.
“Motivational managers have performance conversations all year round and cover off recognizing achievements when they happen,’ she says.
Following this approach can give your team feedback at a time when they can actually use it. This approach also allows you to update goals and objectives regularly and look at areas that the agent wants to develop in.
Looking at the bigger picture, it's important to take into consideration what the agent does (goals and objectives), how they do it (competencies, values, behaviours) and the contributions they make to the business (roles they play in the team, ideas for improvement).
Another key trait of motivational managers is adaptation. Hunter explains that they think about their team member and adapt their style to recognise the employee’s potential.
“For example, high achievers want to come out of their reviews knowing what challenges are coming up, and that their performance has been recognized. Solid performers want to know why their contributions to the team and company are valued as well, and want certainty about what they’ll be doing in the coming year,” she says. “New starters want to feel they’re making progress and are on track and feel motivated to keep on track.”
The questions you ask of your agents can also help to give a bigger sense of purpose to reviewing their performance. Hunter explains that open questions are best for facilitating a productive conversation, as they allow the employee to talk from their perspective.
Examples of open-ended questions include:
- What are the achievements you’ve most proud of this year in relation to your role?
- What are the things you’ve enjoyed the most, both within your role and within the team?
- What are your strengths and how have you been able to use them this year?
- What have you learnt from the things that haven’t gone as planned?
- What roadblocks or challenges have there been, and how have these impacted on your year?
- What could I have done differently to help you manage these roadblocks?
- What development would help you keep on track or improve?
- What type of support can I give to help you with your career plans?
Examples of the questions not to ask include:
- Closed questions (except to clarify something).
- Questions that hone in excessively on one problem that has occurred.
- Ambush questions where you try and catch them out.
- Covering feedback about problems that you haven’t already raised.
- Questions that show you haven’t prepared for the conversation.