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4 features of a modern sales performance management plan

Analytics Solutions Social Specialist, IBM

Sales teams have evolved a great deal from the fast-talking, hat-and-briefcase-toting days of old. Today, both sellers and consumers are empowered by digital and social technologies that affect their approach to a deal and their expectations. To continue to drive sales, your performance management method will need to evolve as well. Below are four necessary features of a modern sales performance management plan.

http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/sites/default/files/4modernsales_blog.jpgEnable real-time insight into sellers’ performance

Today’s society, particularly the millennials taking over business roles, is increasingly visual. There is a reason why YouTube, Facebook, Netflix and similar sites drive such high web traffic. More than ever, people expect information to be presented visually and immediately.

An effective sales compensation system should also involve a visual, real-time component, in the form of performance dashboards. A report by the Aberdeen Group states that “sales reps deserve an intuitive, instant-access mobile-friendly view of ‘how am I doing?,’ including data on both their numeric (quota) and renumeric (compensation) progress.” Insight into current and accurate sales performance for both managers and reps keeps goals top of mind, and also ensures trust in the reporting system.

Put your data to work in sales

A lot of the sales process may rely on instinct—but forecasting should not. It is not enough to simply say, “I have a good feeling about this deal” or “I am getting a positive response from the customer.” Companies that are using data, rather than emotion, in their sales forecasting have motivated a 9.3 percent annual increase in the percentage of sales reps achieving their quota. Data can also be used to set the optimal commission or bonus rates, determine quotas based on regional assessment and performance, and appropriately assign sales reps by role or territory.

Encourage a team mentality

Traditionally, sellers are viewed as driven by personal goal and reward—the “cowboys” of the business world. However, research has shown that instilling a team mentality may produce more results for your business. Millennials are particularly prone to this approach, as they are already accustomed to open, social sharing and collaborating. At least a small portion of your team’s incentive should be based on team—not individual—performance.

Minimize sales talent churn

Building a talented sales team starts with using measurement tools and assessment to identify and match the skills of job roles to job applicants. The next step is to not lose the expert team you have developed. Research indicates that the average B2B sales rep costs over $29,000 to lose and upwards of seven months to train. There is both a quantifiable and qualitative loss when a talented sales rep decides to leave your team. To keep them around, employ the capabilities of a sales management system to more effectively distribute your reps across regional territories, and to determine and set challenging but attainable quotas.

To learn about what best-in-class companies are doing to build productive, motivated and satisfied sales teams, read Aberdeen Group’s research report: Beyond The Commission - Will You Stay Ahead Of The SPM Maturity Curve?