Annual Performance Review – How To Create a Season of Goodwill to All

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Annual Performance Review – How To Create a Season of Goodwill to All

Five perspectives for sales managers that’ll help make the Review a season of goodwill to all.

The “season of giving and receiving” is upon us. Yep, it’s time for Annual Performance Reviews.

Here are 5 perspectives that’ll shift the Review from an onerous task to an opportunity for your management style to shine brightly.

First Perspective: Your Approach.

Here’s a great medical example to illustrate this perspective.

A study of 500 back-pain sufferers found that the highest predictor of what treatment they received was NOT patient symptoms or their clinical history; it was the background of the doctor.

Surgeons wanted to operate, physiotherapists wanted to massage and stretch, acupuncturists wanted to stick needles in certain places, etc.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails. (Abraham Maslow)

How flexible is your approach? Is it a “one size fits all” approach? Are you more concerned about sales representative compliance than commitment?

This inflexibility in approach originates in your desire to get to solutions, to fix things, to do something, anything. After all, you’re in charge! Maybe that desire needs to be checked?

In fact this short term expediency of you fixing problems comes at the sacrifice of long term sales representative development.

Step back. Remember to “think, then plan, then do”. Which is the most appropriate approach that answers this representative’s development questions; “what needs to be done?” and “what’s right for their slice of the business?”

Second Perspective: if something didn’t work, chances are that it wasn’t the something’s fault.

As you listen to a team member say something like, “I tried doing a few things to get in front of my customers; like snail-mailing birthday cards, or phoning them and asking for 2 alternative appointment dates, or developing a relationship at an educational event. And they didn’t work” ask them about the kind of message they had developed for the customer.

If the results were dismal then resist looking first for a fault in the implementation. It’s more likely to be an issue about the message they were communicating; was all about them, or a product feature, or a blatant close or maybe, just plain boring.

So what kind of tailored message gets the customer’s attention? What will make them smile, nod, laugh, gasp, or ponder? What will get them to feel an emotion, grab their interest?

Then ask, “How can we deliver that message appropriately?”

Third Perspective: Big Picture Context.

Change won’t occur simply because you provide good reasons to do so.

Instead, ask the toughest question any sales manager can ask, “What are you willing to change now? Not in a week or 2 or when you get a clear desk?”

A discussion about change is more likely to be about rearranging priorities.

Fourth Perspective: Try this role play for a person who needs a bit of a jolt.

your representative, “You have just been promoted as this area’s Sales Manager and you’re now interviewing me as a potential replacement representative”.

Then ask them, “If I were to join your team, what do you want me to do differently than the person I’m replacing?”  

Fifth Perspective: What’s the Review really about?

Here’s another great medical example that we can all relate to.

A doctor’s treatment of a patient must be a balance between creating a positive outcome, that is, they get better (like the rash disappears, the pain is relieved) AND avoiding a negative outcome. That is, they get worse by not taking the medication or not taking it as directed, or not changing their diet or exercise patterns, or not getting the follow-up tests done.

You could probably argue that most of what happens in a doctor’s room is not about what patients came there for (to get better) but rather to avoid them getting worse.

So what about you and your sales team? Step back and reflect; how much time and effort is spent ensuring bad things won’t upset your day versus taking a risk and encouraging representatives to take chances?  

Asking your team to be more creative and innovative may be counterintuitive to the team. Make sure you discuss this fully, setting clear expectations.

In Summary: Annual Performance Reviews work a whole lot better when you start with a review of yourself.

If you want a more motivated sales team, look at how motivated you are.

If you want them to be doing things differently, show them that you’re not afraid to take risks.

Most Reviews highlight more than the representative’s performance. They also highlight how your management style impacts their performance.

Setting an example isn’t just important in influencing others; it’s the only thing that the team will really notice.

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