What to measure and appraise - Sales Management

There are three main areas that should form part of the salesperson’s appraisal: job performance and achievement,personal skills and competencies that affect performance, and subjective factors which impact on performance. Each of these can be broken down to a number of specific criteria or factors that can be measured

Standards of performance

Standards of performance are those aspects of job performance where there is a level of achievement that is set as the standard. It is not a target of what the sales manager hopes to achieve, but a measure based upon historical or average levels of performance achievement. The standard of performance is the level at which a sales person would be considered satisfactory achiever on any criteria.

Salesperson who consistently failed to meet standards that were demonstrably being met by other salespersons in the team would need special counseling and training to raise performance,and could be subject to disciplinary action where that person continually failed to raise performance to meet minimum standards.

Typically standards can be set in all or most of the following aspects of performance:

  • Call rate (daily average or number made in a pre-agreed time period)
  • Call coverage (making customer visits to Kaplan ensuring all are visited at pre-set intervals)
  • Pioneer calling (finding new prospective customers)
  • Conversion ratio of orders to calls
  • Distribution achievements (number of customers stocking or using the products)
  • Display (for retail products, the quality of display and allocation of space)
  • Market share
  • Territory/area and customer profitability
  • Sales value/volume targets
  • Distributor sales performance (where products are sold through trade distributors)
  • Complaints.

Skills and competencies

A range of skills and competencies are needed by a professional salesperson, with additional skills needed by a sales manager.

Typical skills needed by the salesperson include the following:

  • Professional selling and negotiating skills
  • Product knowledge
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Numerical skills
  • Administrative skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Planning
  • Interpersonal (relationship building, people management) and motivational/persuasive skills – the ability to influence people

In each of these areas we can form some objective measure of what is satisfactory,good or unsatisfactory. The sales manager should make notes on the performance of each of his sales team’s abilities in each of these areas, and any others he feels particularly relevant to selling in the local environment.When conducting the periodic appraisal it is important to be able to give specific examples of what is good or unacceptable.

Subjective factors

Subjective factors are those areas that are not directly concerned with actual achieve mentor performance, but where the factors do impact in some tangible way on a salesperson’s achievements or ability to perform to satisfactory level.

Because any assessment involving subjective factors has no firm base in measurement, the appraisal comments on subjective factors should carry much less weight in an overall appraisal than the objective measurements of performance and achievement. Typically appraisals will cover commentary on subjective factors including the following.

Personal characteristics

Comparisons might be made with strength sand weaknesses of characteristics identified in a job holder profile, particularly drawing attention to how they impact on performance,e.g.:

Enthusiasm Appearance Maturity

Integrity Persistence Initiative

Reliability Resilience Loyalty

Sincerity Intelligence Commitment

Empathy Adaptability Sense of

Self-confidence Self-motivation loyalty


The salesperson’s attitude to the job, the company,his customers and colleagues all have bearing on resultant performance, and negative attitudes warrant comment just as positive attitudes justify praise.

Development and training needs

The appraisal should address the development needs of each salesperson to ensure that they have the skills to meet the demands and requirements of the current job, and they should be given the opportunity to develop within their potential to meet both future needs of this job and to take on new jobs and responsibilities.


The manager should assess the potential for promotion or assignment to new responsibilities within the sales force or elsewhere within the company. Salespersons often want to know where they stand in respect of career development within the company, and the sales manager has a duty to communicate on this subject while not de motivating those persons who may offer less development potential than others in the team.

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