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What is a true, effective and predictive sales force evaluation? - Prima Resource

A few years ago, the phrase “sales force evaluation” wasn’t very well known here. We helped popularize it by offering business leaders a unique sales efficiency and improvement analysis process. Strictly based on scientific data, our sales force evaluation produces concrete and useful results. Its pertinence has been demonstrated to 25,000 sales forces over the past 20 years.

Although in a commercial context imitations can sometimes be beneficial for the customer, who is offered several price range options, often their quality does not match that of the original product.

A Sales Force Evaluation Is NOT

Information Gathering by a Sales Consultant

This “evaluation” is the most elementary and superficial of the batch and consists of a list of observations collected by a consultant or a sales coach, summarized in a document of a few pages. Inexpensive, it is widespread because it responds to what the customer believes he needs, namely an “expert” who spends time with his sales force.

Problems with This Approach

In reality, this type of “evaluation” only relates what sales representatives say and do; its conclusions are based on insufficient and subjective information. It does not propose concrete and effective solutions because it does not identify the source of the problems.

In some cases, it may even create challenges because consultants who only collect information tend to rationalize undesirable sales behaviour.

Individual Evaluation of Sales Force Salespeople

The individual evaluation of each member of the sales team – not to be confused with the evaluation of the entire sales force – is often carried out using personality or behavioural tests. This type of assessment is appreciated by human resources because they have experience working with these tools.

Problems with This Approach

Personality tests are not useful for recruiting your sales force, and they are not useful for evaluating it either. Because they are non-predictive, they do not identify the real causes of underperformance problems in the sales force.

Note that some sales leaders recommend them precisely because they do not expose the problems within their organization, but they give the impression that they do.

Moreover, by isolating each member, this type of evaluation only takes into account a tiny part of the sales force, which should be seen as a whole.

Time Management Analysis

A time management analysis is about examining how representatives use their time and how to optimize it. This type of evaluation is often prescribed by consultants who have adopted a Lean methodology.

Their approach has worked well with the operational side of the business, and they believe they can adapt it to the sales force.

Sales managers appreciate this type of analysis because they can justify them by saying that they have worked very well with other departments of the company. Moreover, as with previous evaluations, they are comforted by the fact that they do not point to latent problems within their organization and do not threaten their leadership.

Problems with This Approach

Although this analysis allows for better time and territory management, it does not shed light on the real causes of the team’s productivity problems. For a sales force, the biggest loss is not inefficient remunerated time spend, but the opportunities lost due to an ineffective sales force.

Poor time management is a symptom of an inefficient sales force, not the cause.

In this sense, it is because of a faulty or non-existent sales process that the management of opportunities is deficient and that, for example, salespeople spend too much time with customers who do not buy.

The study of time management does not solve problems; it only alleviates their symptoms. In this sense, it proposes “solutions” that cannot significantly and sustainably improve the sales team’s performance.

Comparative Analysis (Benchmarking)

Comparative analyses are rather simple: a consultant analyses the performance and actions of the best representatives of the company or the best companies in a sector, to draw recommendations for the less efficient group.

These measures aim to make them adopt the same behaviours or practices as their more efficient peers.

Problems with This Approach

Instead of analyzing the sales force as a whole regarding the DNA of the company’s ideal sales force, this type of study isolates the actions of the best salespeople or the best companies in a sector.

The variables identified are not predictive of performance; they are just factors, not causes.

Paradoxically, a slightly more in-depth study always shows that underperforming salespeople or companies have behaviours or practices similar to the variables identified among the best performers.

Also, benchmarking only works with large sales forces. For smaller teams, the comparison will be with industry averages since the number of representatives required for such an analysis is insufficient. Since the comparison is made against averages (even if they are the best in their group), it becomes impossible for companies to identify how to surpass them.

In both cases, the same problem persists: benchmarking only analyses the best. Meaningful evaluation must consider the best as well as the worst, and then eliminate common behaviours or practices.

Information Gathering, “Business School” Version

This evaluation is the same basic one explained in point 1, except for the considerably more elaborate means employed. Instead of a single consultant, the collection will be done by a team, and questionnaires will be replaced by more sophisticated surveys and focus groups.

Problems with This Approach

Although these “evaluations” deploy more impressive and more expensive resources than those in point 1, their processes and results are essentially the same and, therefore, so are their problems.

They result in reports that gather feedback from representatives and their managers. These results makes it impossible to make concrete recommendations, especially considering that 60% of respondents justify their actions with excuses.

In reality, these “evaluations” are conducted by academic consultants, who are not experts in the field of sales. They apply recipes that work for other departments in the company because they don’t know how to solve sales force specific problems.

The extensive reports give the impression that they contain a lot of valuable information, but they only reflect the current situation. Unfortunately, these “evaluations” give others a bad reputation.

What Is a Sales Force Evaluation?

A sales force evaluation should help understand THE REAL CAUSES of performance problems. It is an analysis of potential efficiency gains within the sales force.

To be effective, it must take into account the following 4 criteria:

  1. Answer relevant and concrete questions for business leaders.
  2. Evaluate the entire sales organization: strategies, processes, managers and finally, representatives. It, therefore, assesses leaders and their impact on reps as well as the salespeople (which salespeople are good and which ones are bad) themselves and identifies technical as well as conceptual issues (i.e.: who has technical sales competencies to work one, who has a weak sales DNA, who has a strong will to sell).
  3. Focus on specific sales and sales organization management behaviours.
  4. Eliminate doubts and uncertainties in the actions to be taken to execute the growth strategies established by management. 

Prima Ressource’s Sales Force Evaluation: A Proven Predictive Science

The tool used shows a margin of error of only 5% regarding its predictions. Our evaluation provides factual, pragmatic, scientific and objective answers to business leaders, answering the questions that concern them:

  • Can we be more effective?
  • To what extent?
  • How can this be achieved?
  • How long will this take?

Readjusting After a Bad Choice

As an entrepreneur, it is never pleasant to make a bad decision! However, the important thing after a bad choice is to adjust the shot as quickly as possible to limit the damage.

Even if you first chose wrong, evaluating your sales force is ALWAYS a good idea.

You must choose the tool that will give you the information you need. To do this, rely on science, not opinion.