Imperative 6: Evaluate Progress Continually!
Regardless of how good a Sales Manager you are, you can’t be everywhere at once. You have administrative duties to fulfill. Regardless of how insignificant you may think they are, they take time and emotional energy from your job of mentoring sales professionals.
Historically, the basic forum for evaluation of a salesperson is the joint call. We are convinced it remains the key subjective and objective evaluation tool; but it is not, however, without impediments.
Often, a joint call becomes an introduction of the manager by the sales person, who has the expectation that the manager will then execute the call. When this happens, the manager often wants to execute the salesperson.
The manager must determine beforehand whether the call is a venue for mentoring or purely an attempt to gain new business. This decision precipitates the requisite action when the salesperson errs, or is stymied in the call. Since calling with one’s boss involves added pressure, the stymied position often occurs. The call should have the linked goals of: new business, observation, evaluation, and mentoring. Sometimes, allowing the producer to fail in the short run provides fertile ground for teaching, which elevates the skills in the long run.
Sales professionals will occasionally “stack the deck” with easier calls if they know that “the big guy” is going to travel with him/her. So, show up unannounced sometimes. You will be better able to see if the schedule has been planned smartly and if they are prepared.
When you tell them you are going to be with them for a couple of calls or days, make sure they design the time to include early stage discovery, mid-stage development, and closing-stage commitment calls. Make sure they have prepared specifically for each call, not just generally for “making calls.”
The joint calling activity has a couple of obvious purposes. One is to make sure you know how each person is progressing and what level of teaching and coaching is required. The second is to hold them accountable for their schedule.
But there are three, sometimes overlooked, goals for this all important activity. The first is to find out if they can accurately and honestly evaluate their skill weaknesses and deficiencies. The second is to prove yourself as a valued mentor. Third, is to illustrate your true commitment to their development. All three of these items will help you with the all-important need for leveraging your time. Joint calling is imperative until all of these goals are accomplished. If they see you as someone from whom they can learn, and that they can trust you, then they will be more likely to be honest with you because you are seen as a leader and not as a policeman or administrator.
To be seen as a valuable resource, you must show that you possess an elevated level of sales skills. Further, you need to illustrate that you know how to assess them and can see clearly what their strong and weak points are. And finally, you must show that you can assimilate what you observe and convert that to an ability to teach and coach them. And there is a difference between teaching and coaching.
With this mutual level of trust and partnership, you can now have remote and even spur of the moment conversations that have as much value as one following a joint call. We call this “Hallway Accountability.” We have structured a 5-point system of analysis under the umbrella of Hallway Accountability that provides the framework for a productive pre-call planning process, during call check list, and post call debriefing. This “golden methodology” provides the structure for effective coaching and mentoring, and further expands the value you bring as the manager to the party. It is LEVERAGE at its best and most productive.
Summarily, this continuous process of evaluation requires: a growing level of trust between manager and producer; perceived and real sales skills on the part of the manager; honesty between the two parties; and a systemic method of evaluation that is simple, on point, and effective.
We’d love to discuss this further with you and expand the historically proven methodologies discussed above. Write us…or better yet, give us a call at 404.324.4600.