Performance Review? Be the Expert on You!

This is the second in this most important process. Last week we started the discussion of the performance process. Now we get deeper. Do not take this for granted. There is no more important time than now to begin to affect your appraisal rating.  Read this post and begin the process.  You are the expert on you!  With this in mind prepare your case!  Always be prepared!


There is no time that is more important, or as intimidating, as annual performance appraisal time.  You probably don’t think that there’s much to be gained in this process.  If so, I vigorously disagree with you.  It is an important time of the year that evaluates your performance for last year, and sets the tone for the upcoming year.  You can have significance impact in this process and document.  Because it is a lasting document, and impacts everything from your salary to your future employment I urge you to insert yourself into the process early.

The sales profession is fairly objective from the standpoint of meeting goals.  As I said a couple of posts ago, “You can lie about the numbers but the numbers don’t lie.” In the end, the numbers or lack of numbers will define your future, but your best bet is toframe the situation correctly, enunciating what you have done and what you need to strengthen.  Remember, you will have the edge, as you should “be the expert on you!”  You should know your numbers and your situation, and feel comfortable leading the conversation.  Below you will see what actual items you should take into that discussion.

You might remember the discussion that should have happened mid-year, if one did occur.  We outline some strategies for this in Black Sales Journal 7/21/2011, After a Difficult Mid-term Review….  This was a suggestion to take the offensive, and hopefully you seized upon it.  This level of proactivity may be uncomfortable, yet it is well advised if you do the homework.  There is no way to hide from the fact that everyone can see your activity and performance.

No competent sales manager is going to avoid this opportunity to tell you his or her thoughts regarding improvement.  We all can be better.   If you are already ‘on the top rung’, this could be the opportunity to get additional resources that could result help you be even more equipped for success in the future.

Additional resources could be items such as:

  • A sales assistant assigned to you
  • An expanded territory
  • More prospects
  • More house accounts

Preparation for The Session

You know whether there are problems in your performance.  You don’t need to be psychic to know this.  It is not uncommon with being in a sales job that you can be criticized for your prospecting or production numbers.  The key is that you need a plan to get back on track.   You will want to have at a minimum the items below:

  • Be honest with yourself –Honest self-evaluation is the most important activity that you can undertake.
  • Know your weak points – Outline them, detail them, and understand them fully.
  • Know your numbers – The metrics are ultra-important, and your understanding of them is the cornerstone to succeeding.  See Black Sales Journal 2/28 – How Many Prospects do You Really Need? for some help in this area.
  • Craft your solutions – Come up with real ways to repair your performance.  Reduce these to writing and be prepared to present them to the manager.  Help can be found at Black Sales Journal 11/10/2011 2012 is Here! – Solidify Your Sales Plan.
  • Ask to be first – Get it over with, and avoid the anxiety of waiting to be called.  Get it behind you and get to work on the 2012 year.  If you have the above items and are prepared, you should rather be first rather than last.

Prepare Yourself for Criticism

Criticism is natural in sales, but sometimes hard to take.  Sometimes it is pride that makes it difficult, and sometimes it is just stubbornness.  Tough words are hard to take, especially if you think you are not being treated fairly.  I will provide more on fair treatment below.

If you have done the items above correctly, you will probably have selected many of the same items as your manager has selected to present to you.  So here is your opportunity to ask for the meeting, present these items to him, and show your ability to be objective.  If you do it correctly, you hopefully will have already started the activities that you are talking about.

Fair and Equitable Treatment

In any position, sales or otherwise, you run the risk of being treated differently than your peers.  This is called inequitable treatment and it may be happening for a variety of reasons.  The reason could be as simple as the manager not knowing what goals or measure they used for other sales professionals to situation where a manager who purposely differentiates his or her treatment for any number of reasons.  Among these reasons could be such items as racial preference, age or sex discrimination, or even racial prejudice.

Your remedies need to be structured based on what is actually happening.  Be careful with accusations, and remember that even though anything can happen, it is difficult to prove certain claims if you do not document everything that happens.

Remember that your human resource professional might be your most solid resource if you think you are being treated unfairly.  Don’t hesitate to discuss it, and get opinions based on what you believe, but don’t make wild claims and accusations.  Ranting might feel better, yet it will not gain you an audience.  Like the 60’s television show Dragnet suggested, “Stick to the facts”.  I would suggest you reference Black Sales Journal – 3/32011 – When You Feel ‘Screwed’ – 3 Steps to Getting Help for more on this important issue.

In business you don’t have the ability to beckon for Martin Luther King or WEB Du Bois, you need to be able to surface your grievance to someone who is paid to be objective and readily available.  Think it over first, and check your emotions at the door.

There will be more information on this in some upcoming posts.

Remember your all-important objectivity.  I know that is tough, but your self-evaluation as indicated above will give you the edge.

An Important Note

Many managers, for whatever reasons exist, ask you to do the work in constructing the actual performance evaluation.  If you are asked to write your own evaluation and bring it to your manager, then you need to be wise about the level of your self-critique.  Be selective about what you include in such areas of:

  • General performance ratings
  • Areas needing strengthening
  • Skills that need to be acquired
  • Training needs

Make sure that you give yourself some room to work, as there is only 24 hours in a day, and 365 days until this process happens again.   Focus on what can actually be done, and that which helps you the most.

The manager should not be ‘bailed out’ from giving his or her evaluation of your performance, and if you do all the work and evaluate yourself, you may rob yourself of the opportunity to hear how your boss really feels.  Additionally, I am not sure that it would be fair to have a manager essentially say, “I agree with your self-assessment’, then sign it.  They need to do their part in your development by advising you of what they perceived would help you.

Get something out of this process.

Your comments are appreciated. You can reach me at

…The Content Of Your Character: A Self Examination!

The date which we celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is upon us.  Dr.  King talked of character, and I discuss a professional’s sales character  in this post.  Character is important, and it is what you will be judged by in your professional career.  It is the basis of a meaningful relationship.


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King spoke eloquently regarding the future saying:

“…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King 8/28/1963

This speech delivered by this iconic individual symbolizes that there will be a day when skin color and race are not used as determinants of a ‘man’, but strength of mind, morality, independence, individuality, and other qualitative factors would be the measure used for judgment.

Obviously we are not there yet, or there would be no need for Black Sales Journal.  Progress has been made no doubt, yet there is still significant work to do.

Black Sales professionals have a lot to offer, and I will quickly define what I will call “sales character” which makes a real difference in professionals.  When you examine you professional character, you are looking at some qualities that make a real difference in any sales professional.

The Attributes

I would describe these characteristics or attributes as those that greatly contribute to the content of one’s sales character:

  • Ethical
  • Mentally Tough
  • Persistent
  • Responsive
  • Innovative
  • Humility

There are probably more that qualify; yet these are high on the list.

Ethical – Solid ethics are important in everything, but extremely important in sales, where trust and honesty have high relative importance.  I went in depth on this subject in Black Sales Journal 12/1/2011- Are You Ethical?

Mentally Tough– Strength and toughness are qualities that make up the sales persona of any true professional.  It is so important in this ‘lonely’ profession that if you don’t have it, you should consider another professiona.  Rejection, most of which is not personal, abounds, and this requires a business stubbornness that is somewhat unique to this profession.  Visit Black Sales Journal 12/29 Mental Toughness – Asset For the Black Sales Professional for a review of this valuable topic.

Persistent – Persistence is a trait that makes the sales professional special.  Prospecting activities that bear no fruit are an obstacle to many.  The persistent sales professional who makes 24 calls knows that the 25th may result in an appointment, and also knows that the 26th may bear fruit as he knows his or her metrics and success ratio with making appointments.  I worked at a place once that had a monetary Persistency Bonus for those who kept pushing and pushing.

Responsive – You are responsive because you have customers and an employer who depend on you.  Customers have needs and expectations and deserve a sales professional who can make them a priority.  The employer counts on the sales professional for more than just sales, as service and territory coverage are important as well.  A great reference would be BSJ 6/16 Responsiveness – The Objective of the Sales Professional.

Innovative – The ability to come up with solutions that work in real time is what innovation gives.  Sales professionals also suggest changes in product and process that benefit the customers.

Humility – This one is tough for many sales professionals whose confidence level and sense of being the integral cog overshadows all else.  Being able to credit an associate or sales team is a must.  It is difficult for many professionals even though it should not be.  An associate who dances on the desk after a significant sale does not get it!  Spend that time crediting your associates and act like you have been in the end-zone before.

Real Life

Real life gives you things that you can’t even make up.  Truth be told, it can also give you characters could be on the silver screen.

I gave this example in Black Sales Journal, in Are you Ethical? The Question for All (12/1/2011).  This section was entitled “Even When No One Is Looking!”

I was once riding in a company vehicle with a sales rep and the customer to a business lunch in the Chicago area.  We were coming to a toll both and the rep reached into a bag and grabs a coin, which he deposited in the automatic toll basket and we were allowed to proceed.  At that time the toll was 25 cents.  On the way back from the successful lunch, he did the same.  As he did it, I looked at the bag, which must have had 200 or more coins and inquired as to how he got that many quarters.  He indicated that they were not quarters, but after a recent trip to Mexico he had a bag of centavos that were essentially worthless here.

Remember, this is in front of the customer.  Our customer heard him admit to using worthless foreign coins in the toll basket.  If you were the customer, how would you feel about this reps credibility?  What would you think about the organization that you were doing business with as you witnessed him doing it in front of his manager?

We had to terminate the rep (I refuse to call him a sales professional).  Let’s look at it from an employer’s view.  This unethical individual did the following:

  • Sullied his image and the organization’s image in front of the customer creating doubt as to our ethics and credibility
  • Engaged in a civil wrong which might have carried criminal penalties as well
  • Committed expense fraud as he also received reimbursement for fraudulent expenses

I contacted the customer as I introduced the new sales rep.  I apologized for the fact that our representative did what he did, and explained that I had someone who was solid who would take care of him.  The customer said the following to me, “I really wondered about what organization would allow an employee to cheat like that.  I liked [him] but realized that I did not know him well enough to trust him.”  The customer was watching my response as much as he was watching the actions of the rep.


I know there are other traits and characteristics, yet these are truly important.  I say we all will be judged by the “content of character” as sales professionals at some point.  Our customer’s and our employer’s notice our character.

Be the best!

Your comments are welcome.  Write me at