84% of sales reps thought they needed to visit customers in their portfolio at least once a quarter. The customer responses varied by size, type, etc…. Some said weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Then we looked at the current requirement around call cadence which was very ambiguous and focused on minimum activity standards. In this case, the minimum requirement for a rep to interact with a customer was at least once a quarter. The sales team had been brainwashed into responding that quarterly was the minimum. Minimums are designed to control those who aren’t driven enough to manage themselves. Calling on a big customer four times a year is an activity without a guaranteed result. Joe could perform four calls and not drive results, while Jane could do the same level of activity and drive tremendous results. So what is the point of activity requirements? Activity requirements are important for new hires and poor performers. It is important to have a defined cadence as part of your sales force structure roles, but how should you reinforce it?
Here is a philosophy on managing performance and activity for a rep that is post-ramp:
The Performance Management Funnel:
- Results – Quota Achievement, Bookings, Revenue, Margins
- Exit Criteria – if these goals aren’t being met per the scorecard, move to #2
- Tools – Scorecard, Individual Development Plan
- Pipeline – pipeline to quota ratio, size by phase, phase advance rates, bottlenecks
- Exit Criteria – pipeline volume is light or deals are not progressing as desired – this should be defined on their scorecard. Move to Step #3
- Tools – CRM, Scorecard
- Activity – total call count, prospecting activity, retention activity, process utilization
- Exit Criteria – not achieving activity standards as defined in their scorecard or development plan. Move to Step #4
- Tools – CRM, weekly call report, Field Ride Evaluation Form
- Micromanagement – how many breaths did you take today? I am kidding, of course, but this is where you are managing them on a day by day basis. Calendar reviews, meetings in the morning before the day starts. This rep is choosing to fail and you need to help them schedule their day. This is not fun for the manager or rep, but is necessary to help the rep succeed or help them realize this may not be a long-term fit.
- Exit Criteria – Not executing daily job tasks. Move to HR
- Post-Ramp Rep – Performance Plan, Exit Interview Form
- Pre-Ramp Rep – Role Description, Scorecard
How does this change when dealing with new hires?
As noted in the visual above, you should flip the continuum upside down for new hires and focus on quick wins are they progress up the steps. First, you have to teach a new hire how to schedule their day and the basic time management skills required for the role. Second, you move into activity requirements and celebrate setting calls and learning the process. After the onboarding period you help them build their pipeline and focus on filling the top of the funnel. Finally, you celebrate as they close their first deal and move towards full productivity.
As a leader it is your responsibility to keep your team in Phase 1 and 2. Many times when reps progress to Phase 3, it is too late. It is very difficult to move someone back up the performance management funnel. Also, some leaders jump to micro-management too fast with their tenured reps. One bad quarter and they go from step #1 to step #4. This can lead to job dissatisfaction for both the manager and the rep.