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Sales Strategy
3-Step Process for Improving Sales Performance
Apr 19, 2013 | Anne Babej, CPSA lock
Today’s organizations recognize the value of their employees as significant resources.  Some say an organization’s people are the only things that can ensure its survival.  Products and services will continue to get better and better, but the differences between competitive offerings will continue to shrink.  Therefore, a company’s people are what enable it to differentiate itself from the competition.


When a company is clearly invested in its employees, they are stimulated towards improved performance.  Keep in mind though, that this is only a secondary benefit.  The primary purpose of training is to provide specific skill and knowledge development towards improved performance.

Your first step is to conduct a needs analysis; study employee behaviour to determine if performance meets the work standards.  How well does the employee perform the tasks? Who, within your organization, needs training? What kind of training do they need?

A 3-step process should help answer these questions:

    1. Define the desired performance and establish appropriate measures for this performance.

    2. Determine the gap between desired and actual performance. Using a variety of sources of data, identify the gap, and compare with industry or organizational norms or with that of other successful sales people. Potential sources of data include performance appraisals, managerial requests for training, work samples, observations, targets met, conversion rates, self-assessments, psychometric assessments, reports, etc.

    3. Identify the obstacles to effective performance. These could include a deficiency in skills, knowledge, or lack of awareness of performance standards.
Consider the following potential barriers to effective performance:

Human
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of skills
- Lack of motivation
- Counterproductive reward systems
- Group norms

Technical
- Poor job design
- Lack of tools/equipment
- Lack of standardized procedures
- Rapid change in technology
- Ineffective feedback

Information
- Ill-defined goals/objectives
- Lack of performance measurements
- Sub-optimal resources
- Informal leaders

Structural
- Overlapping roles and responsibilities
- Lack of flexibility
- Lack of control systems
- Organizational political climate

Once you’ve determined the obstacles to effective performance, you need to determine the appropriate solutions.

Potential solutions include clarifying expectations, providing resources,  feedback, or opportunities for practice, removing the reward or punishment, providing or rearranging consequences, simplifying the task, removing obstacles, providing training, or even replacing the person.

If training is the solution, a variety of training methods can be used:  off-the-job training methods including sales programs, on-the-job training methods including sales coaching and mentoring, and technology-based training including web-based, distance, or self-directed learning.

Whichever training method you choose, ensure that the use of knowledge and skills acquired in a training program, or transfer of training, actually takes place.  There must be an opportunity to use the new training on the job and the opportunity to use it over time, along with the support of management and a reward system that supports the newly acquired skills.

Performance Management and Training and Development are an investment in the people resources of an organization.    The competitive nature of today’s Canadian marketplace means that organizations have to distinguish themselves as the experts.  And to accomplish this, they must have the best people available.  Progressive companies recognize this and invest the development of their staff.  The expectation is that employees will become better performers, more loyal, and more dedicated because of it.

About the Author:
Anne Babej is the COO at the Canadian Professional Sales Association. She also oversees CPSA’s Sales Institute, which provide many in-class, online, or in-house sales and business training courses, as well as Canada’s only recognized sales designation, the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) designation.

Contact us today at MemberServices@cpsa.com or 1-888-267-2772 to see how we can help you and your team reach new heights in sales success.

Copyright ©2013 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association
For permissions, contact editor@cpsa.com.


Recommended Reading:
Top 10 Ideas for Improving Sales Performance
Productivity: More Than Just the Topline
When Sales Training Isn’t Working

View more sales articles from CPSA’s Knowledge Centre.

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