Sales Performance Standards: 3 Key Traits for Success

Take a mental snapshot of your sales staff. Do only a few of its members consistently bring in high volumes of good margin sales? An old rule of thumb says that about 20% of salespeople will make 80% of sales; in other words, everyone’s not going to be a superstar. However, you can create sales performance standards for management for improving employee performance and, in turn, the profitability of your company. To do so, focus on the three key traits of every successful salesperson:

1. Authentic Aptitude

Some people are “born to sell” while others, with hard work, can become proficient at it. But there are common characteristics in people that don’t belong in sales that you would lookout for. This includes:

  • A person that struggles to form relationships.
  • A person who has no tolerance for rejection or failure.
  • Someone who desires a routine workday.

For the beginning of your sales performance standards, you may want to use a sales aptitude test during the hiring process. Doing so will weed out those most likely doomed to failure. But it’s always possible to hire someone with “potential” who just never grows into the position. If an employee lacks the aptitude for sales, no amount of training and coaching will likely turn him or her into a stellar performer. In such cases, you’ll need to choose between either moving the person into another area of the business or letting him or her go.

2. Effective Tactics

Entire books could be written (and have been) about sales tactics. There’s the hard sell, the soft sell, up-selling, storytelling, problem solving — the list goes on. At the end of the day, customers buy from people whom they like and trust, and who can deliver what they promise.

Doing the little things separates those at the top of the sales profession from everyone else and helps them build lasting and fruitful relationships with customers. Identify the most valuable sales prospecting techniques of your top employees. Afterwards, pass these techniques along to the rest of the staff within the sales performance standards through ongoing training and up-skilling.

3. Strong Numbers

There’s no way around it: A good salesperson puts up the numbers. Sales is a results-oriented profession. The question and challenge for business owners (and their sales managers) is how to accurately and fairly measure results and ultimately define success.

There are many sales metrics to consider. Which ones you should track and use to evaluate the performance of your salespeople depends on your strategic priorities. For example, if you’re looking to speed up the sales cycle, you could look at average days to close. Or, it can be a concern that your sales department just isn’t bringing in enough revenue. In this case, you could calculate average deal size as a calculation to improving sales.

Moving Forward

Hopefully, everyone on your sales staff demonstrates these three key traits to some degree. If not, regular performance reviews (to catch problems) and effective coaching (to solve them) are a must. Take a look at this previous article where we go over different performance review tips for employers. We can help you create your company’s sales performance standards. Our accounting firm will help identify the ideal metrics for your company, run the numbers, and set reasonable and profitable revenue goals.