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Shift focus from whether results are achieved to how they are achieved and achieve better performance in your sales force.

Performance discussions have been challenged in many ways in recent years. Both frequency and types of goals have been debated regarding what promotes performance and provides the greatest value for both the employee and the company.

In customer-facing roles, one has traditionally been measured on hard values such as sales results and activities. In our view, such a review format is far too historically oriented and does not have the necessary focus on future results creation and employee development, says Jens Hindkjær, CCO at Grape.

We often see that the classic performance discussion does not focus on developing competencies and behaviours that genuinely create better results and value for both the company and the employee in the long run.

Jens Hindkjær, CCO and Partner at Grape

Introduce Soft KPIs

With a wave of a wand, one should not shift focus away from hard, results-oriented KPIs. But if the challenging goals are combined with softer plans, such as the ability to collaborate, best practices, personal behaviour, and competence development, greater individual relevance of the discussions is created, thus a much better basis for increased performance.

We find that performance effectiveness arises when one focuses on HOW to achieve the challenging goals, rather than WHETHER they are accomplished by concentrating on HOW an understanding is gained of what creates the excellent result. You become clear on which competencies you need to work on to improve performance in your sales organisation.

Become clear on what creates your results

Today, success in sales is not only created by what you sell but primarily by HOW you sell. When people and companies choose whether to become or remain customers, studies show that only 50% of the decision is based on the supplier’s brand, products, and price. In comparison, the purchasing experience itself determines the remaining 50%. In other words, it is essential to focus on the purchasing experience you can create – how your company sells.

It can be, for example, how often and to what extent individual employees execute best practice behaviour.

As a leader, if you are clear on HOW to work successfully, you can also provide nuanced feedback on the employee’s results and, most importantly, the path to get there. You can elevate your employee dialogues from discussions about “you just need to run faster” to knowing which competencies and priorities to adjust for each individual to get them to perform better. According to Jens, this results in better quality in performance discussions and the sales work itself.

Reassessing performance. Professional reviewing presentation in car
Leadership and Culture. Manager giving feedback to colleauge

Increase frequency

Another good effect of introducing soft goals is that the performance discussion becomes present and personal, thus much more relevant and motivating for employees and managers. Dialogue about personal development is more natural to have continuously rather than as an annual conversation. Experience shows that goal achievement increases significantly if you have several ongoing coaching instead of one yearly performance discussion.

Create measurability

For many, the challenge with soft KPIs is making them measurable. If the soft KPIs are not measurable, they get deprioritised because they become too difficult to relate to and provide feedback on. Therefore, it is also essential to have tools and processes to support tracking soft KPIs. In some performance management tools, soft goals can be quantified using scales, for example, so that both parties can assess performance, which provides excellent and straightforward measurability.

Our experience is that the soft goals must be clear, meaningful, individual, and easy to follow up on to create the full effect

Jens Hindkjær, CCO and Partner at Grape

The point is to create a performance culture that is not based on schedules and grades but on qualified dialogue and sparring. This creates performance improvement, concludes Jens Hindkjær.