Posts belonging to Category Performance management



The Dreaded Mid-Term Performance Review

It is that time again! This post is for all of those professionals, and sales professionals, who are concerned about their mid-term review. The performance review can be a stressful event, a difficult time for many.

Many of us have been there before, and thus the need for this post.  A tough interim or mid-term review is sobering, and if you are in sales it is easy to have a couple of tough quarters.  The importance of this is apparent when it gets to writing.  Use this post, to prepare for this important upcoming event, or to respond to a difficult mid term that has already happened.

Are you currently on a performance program? Remember, you must be on top of your game, and working all of the time.  You might refer to BSJ 4/30/2011, Are You on A Sales Performance Program? Can You Beat it?

Remember, this is the mid-term, and there is some time left to get goals, but you must do something different, or the results will be the same. This post was from last July but applies now as much as any interm period.

Never give up!

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If you are with a fairly large organization, you have probably recently experienced an interim or mid-term review.  As trite as it sounds, you knew it was coming; yet it is one of the least enjoyable activities for a sales professional.  Having someone tell you where you stand in comparison to a goal that you had no choice but  agree to.

Historically, that is the nature of sales.  Review Black Sales Journal – 1/10 Preparing for the Performance Appraisal that discusses the performance appraisal process and the sales professional.  These points are applicable here, yet I am highlighting “what is after the interim appraisal” as a result of the urgency getting on track, meeting goals, and having a successful last 5 months.

You Must Do Something Differently!

This is not an issue if you had a great interim review as you are on track, although you need to remain there.  The problem comes when the interim or mid-term was problematic, exposing what even you have to agree are sub-par sales results and as a result low attainment.

When you are in that mode you have reasons to despair and frankly, I can tell you I have been there. It is a place that you don’t want to be as you are up against a clock (actually the calendar) and you know something has got to change, or you won’t be there down the road.

The real deal is that you might not be doing anything wrong, yet you might not be doing enough right.  Something new has to be tried, and now is the time to do it.  I will propose a few things that may help; yet you cannot stop the normal sales process while you execute them.

Those items are as follows:

  • You must increase your prospecting effectiveness. It is a proper activity for even those who are having success.  Please to refer to Black Sales Journal 2/10, Prospecting Tips For Black Sales Professionals.  Making your prospecting activities most effective will include changing, yet it is still an activity that is basically short-term that will yield dividends.
  • Reckon with the numbers game that prospecting represents. There is no doubt that there is a formula that successful prospecting continually requires.  See this in Black Sales Journal 2/28, How Many Prospects Do You Really Need? You must know your success formula, and make it happen.  The formula is different based on your own effectiveness.  I might be able to make my numbers with fewer prospects, based on my own approach and characteristics.
  • Continue to work hard. There is no magic in this statement.  You can increase your effectiveness and recognize your prospecting formula and the numbers that make it work; yet you still can do more.  Here is where you put it into high gear.

Here are some activities that you can do that you might not be doing right now:

  • Utilize networking as a prospect source
  • Use seminars as a prospecting tool

Networking - can be a very effective prospecting source.  It does take work and some planning, yet proper networking will change the prospect base you are exposed to as well as create face-to-face opportunities for prospecting intimacy.  I went deep in this topic in Black Sales Journal 2/21, Networking for the Black Sales Professional.  Using networking effectively is possible in the short term and can be done while the normal prospecting activities continue.

Seminars - can be extremely effective.  Done correctly, this activity can be more effective that networking, yet require more preparation, and potentially some resources.  Black Sales Journal 3/24, Finding Prospects Though A Seminar gets deep into this activity that I am partial to.  Now to make this activity work, you do need to have a group that has some has some commonality in buying habits, product needs, industry type, or other characteristics just as the 3/24 post describes.  Once you pull a group together like this, and deliver a message a message with value, you will potentially have followers, prospects, and some customers that you may never have been exposed to.  It would help to be an expert, or regarded as one, yet not necessary.  If you are not an expert, you should engage one to speak to your group, and as is described in the post, keep meticulous records and do not let anyone in, or out, without their contact information, especially their email.

In Summary

These are tactical activities.  They do not replace normal prospecting but can supplement that activity.  You cannot make it in sales without prospecting and need to face that important issue if you have problems there.

Prospecting is the price of admission to being successful sales professional.  Prospecting Tips For Black Sales Professionals were designed specifically for up and coming Black sales professionals in recognition that if you are going to be in this profession, you will need them to smooth out the difficulties of sourcing prospects.

Be effective and prosper.

We welcome your comments. Reach me at Michael.Parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.

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!

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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 michael.parker@blacksalesjournal.com.