Surveys that are poorly designed, misinterpreted, or shelved are worse than useless. They can paint a distorted picture or lead to dissent in the ranks.
A well-designed Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) survey, however, is a powerful tool. It can enhance sales operations and make a game-changing impact.
Below are some best practices for designing your next SSI, and for putting the results to good use. We’ll help you unlock the whole truth—and nothing but—about your sales force. A Sales Satisfaction Survey can enhance sales operations and make a game-changing impact.
7 Dimensions Your Survey Must Address:
The purpose of your SSI is not to gauge satisfaction, per se. It’s to determine sales’ alignment with the company and the sales strategy. For meaningful results, your survey should span these seven areas.
Before you jump into the details, download our Sales Satisfaction Survey. The Checklist will help you structure an effective survey and get meaningful results.
Download the Sales Satisfaction Survey Checklist here.
- Compensation: Most sales reps will say their compensation and benefits are inadequate. So don’t ask about comp plan satisfaction. Instead, ask compensation-to-value questions. (“Does your compensation package reflect the value you generate?”) This will force reps to think of themselves as both recipients and contributors. And to consider whether these two roles are in balance.
- Culture: Openly describing your culture, and asking employees whether they conform, yields nothing. Focus instead on specific attributes of your culture. Lay out scenarios and ask participants to describe what they would do in each case. Then read between the lines to determine where they stand.
- Customers: Prospects are asked for feedback on marketing. Customers are asked for feedback on sales. Similarly, you should ask reps how they view their customers.
- Enablement Technology: You need detailed information about how, and how well, enablement technology is impacting sales. Ask specific questions about the gap that mobility has or hasn’t closed. Ask sales force automation questions that don’t elicit a knee-jerk response. (“I spend too much time in CRM; just let me sell.”)
- Processes: How do reps manage their opportunities? Create leads? Forecast? Follow the playbook? Ask questions that assess whether, and to what degree, processes are helping or hurting.
- People: Your questions should capture the feel of reporting relationships as well as team cohesion. They should also address the impact of non-sales personnel (pre-sales, IT, finance, etc.).
- Commissions, Discounts, and Payments: Back-end issues surrounding split commissions, discount exceptions, and payment problems plague many salespeople. They’re often lightning rods of controversy. And they’re a critical part of the SSI mix.
Before You Deploy: A Sales Satisfaction Checklist
This checklist can help ensure your survey is appropriate and useful.
- Are your questions phrased carefully?
Make sure your questions aren’t too suggestive or too limiting:
- “Are you happy with your current compensation package?”
- “Our corporate culture is X. Are you aligned with X?”
- “Are you happy with our CRM platform?”
Reword questions that might trigger reflexive responses. Tease out the information you need, rather than asking for it directly. Answers given to satisfy perceived expectations won’t do you any good.
Is there room for qualitative input?
You don’t want to limit your participants to closed-ended, limited-choice questions. Nor should you ask for a massive amount of qualitative feedback. Aim for 3-4 questions in each of the seven areas above. The survey should include no more than 2-3 requests for qualitative responses.
Is the survey truly anonymous?
If respondents include too much information about their roles, they’ll compromise their identities. Say you have different communities of reps—geographic territories, industry verticals, etc. Each of those dimensions is fine to include. Just don’t ask reps to reveal all of them in combination.
Are you committed to proper analysis and transparency?
You need to understand how well your sales force’s perceptions line up with reality. Commit now to comparing your SSI results with performance data. This will allow you to identify the nature and severity of the disconnect. You must also commit to sharing SSI results—and management’s conclusions—with survey participants. This will earn the sales team’s trust and goodwill. And pave the way for future surveys.
The Bottom Line:
Key to success is giving your SSI design careful thought. Studying it in context (i.e., side by side with performance data). And keeping the entire sales force in the loop and engaged. This will allow you to distinguish between, and root out, perception and performance problems. And continually fine-tune your sales operations.