If you are like most HR leaders, you rely on annual reviews to assess Sales team performance. In the ever-evolving talent landscape, yearly reviews are not frequent enough. Are you still reviewing sales rep talent and performance on an annual basis? Stop what you are doing and read this article.

How Often Should Sales Talent Be Assessed? The Answer: Quarterly


Talent should be assessed every quarter to ensure A-players are developed and C-players are removed quickly. Nothing is more toxic to revenue growth than a complacent sales team. To keep sales people motivated excellent performance should be recognized and rewarded often.


Download the Top Grading Assessment Tool to begin your self assessment and to utilize best practices from different “phases” to evaluate the current state of your talent.


To incorporate a quarterly assessment cadence into your organization, consider these three components:


  1. Talent Strategy and Execution Plan:


    A consistent talent strategy ensures a single philosophy of team performance. This is where the direction of the company’s Talent department is determined. The talent strategy supports all revenue generating functions such as Marketing, Sales, Customer Success (CS), and Customer Experience (CX).  A well-thought-out Talent Strategy supplies the best people required to execute the go-to-market plans.  As an HR leader, talent strategy is paramount.


  1. Top-Grading Assessment Process:


    Top-Grading is a cyclical process that allows you to optimize the performance of your team. The process allows for continuous analysis and improvement. The diagram below provides a visual representation of the key top-grading steps.



    The top grading process begins with clearly-articulated role profiles. Develop the profile for an “A-Player” in each key revenue growth role.  The primary focus is on Marketing, Sales, Customer Success (CS), and Customer Experience (CX). Documented profiles define a clear picture of what a great employee looks like. Once this is understood and agreed upon, all other Talent management activities will proceed with effective results.


    Using the role profiles as a guide, recruit A-player talent into your organization. Searches should be pro-active and continuous. Sourcing creates interest in your company as a place to work.  It proactively drives talent to the organization by generating interest through advertising, promotion, and active outreach.


    To make the hiring process easy for A-players, streamline the recruiting process. Coordinated administrative processes assures a consistent, objective analysis of each candidate.  Centralized efforts eliminate confusion not only with the candidate, but within the organization.


    All new reps should undergo an on boarding process. The process needs to provide every new team member with the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to perform the job. Successful on boarding ultimately shortens the road to productivity.


    After top talent is recruited in, the fun part begins. Every quarter assess each employee against their customized role profile. The result is a holistic view of the candidate.  Use the profile to identify the individual’s strengths and gaps. This ultimately reduces employee ramp-to-productivity and employee churn by assuring role fitness up-front in the process.


    Use the assessment results to craft an individual Development Plan for each member of the go-to-market team. The goal of the individual development plan is to reinforce the necessary behaviors to achieve high-performance. High-performance programs provide a plan for under-performers to correct course and meet expected standards.  This leads to an increase in productivity for the organization.  These same programs can also be designed to drive sustained performance from your A-Player talent. This leads to continued success in the market.


    Ultimately, your highest performers will move up in the organization. Your talent strategy must provide a consistent and clearly defined path for them to get there. Succession planning ensures you can meet the future leadership needs required to drive your organization toward a positive future. It provides a pipeline of talent so that planned (and unexpected) vacancies can be filled quickly with the ideal candidate. With excellent succession and promotion planning, leadership can proactively identify who should backfill critical roles.


  2. Reporting:


    KPIs and metrics should be contained in a dashboard for each revenue generating role. The key metrics should fall into two primary categories: Accountabilities (i.e. they meet quota) and Competencies (i.e. they effectively communicate to clients). Best practice recommends frequent updating of each rep’s dashboard to ensure no one is caught off guard at the end of the quarter. Both the sales rep and their manager should review the key KPIs early and often to ensure alignment.


While, quarterly reviews of the Sales team may seem daunting at first, these three steps will keep you on track.


Download the Top Grading Assessment Tool to begin your self assessment and to utilize best practices from different “phases” to evaluate the current state of your talent.



Additional Resources


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Ellen Wade

Provides clients strategic and tactical support in uncovering new revenue opportunities allowing them to make their number.

Ellen is an experienced consultant with a demonstrated history working directly with executive-level clients to deliver implementable solutions for high priority business issues. Ellen uses a data-driven approach in developing solutions, often blending strategy, analytics, technology and creativity to ensure project success.  Most recently, she helped a Fortune-500 retailer integrate after the acquisition of a major competitor. Ellen aided the client in sustaining revenue growth while rationalizing operational costs, driving higher net profits for the business. The project also realized historic pre-merger customer service level metrics. Her client portfolio spans Retail, Government, Finance and Technology sectors.


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