Sales Checkpoint Performance Feedback System

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1 Sales Checkpoint Performance Feedback System Technical Development Manual January, 2014 Profiles International, Inc. Profiles Office Park 5205 Lake Shore Drive Waco, Texas USA 76710

2 CONTENTS Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION... 1 The Need for Sales Competency Evaluation Tools... 1 Chapter 2: PRODUCT FEATURES... 2 Development History... 2 Respondents... 3 The Seven Universal Sales Competencies... 3 Psychometric Properties... 4 Reliability... 4 Chapter 3: SALES CHECKPOINT REPORTS... 6 Report Development... 6 Report Features... 7 The Favorable Zone... 7 Gaps... 7 Summary... 7

3 Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION The Need for Sales Competency Evaluation Tools In the early stages of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology movement, methods were sought that could help managers perform one of their most difficult tasks: evaluating employee performance. Traditional performance evaluations were implemented, but rater biases soon rendered them ineffective. Eventually, supervisors began applying the performance evaluations in ways that served little additional purpose except to reinforce their single-point assessments. Peer-assessments were introduced to address weaknesses of traditional performance appraisals. Adding a different perspective by incorporating peer reviews helped provide a more complete picture of the individuals being evaluated, but some of the same inadequacies persisted. Other solutions included a variety of different types of selfreport measures, (psychological tests, interest inventories, skill measures, etc.), with additional observers. Although these other perspectives added some value to the process, it continued to fall short of a truly informative, useful performance appraisal. Profiles International conducted research on performance evaluation methods addressing effective sales behaviors to develop a sales-oriented performance evaluation tool minimizing these challenges. Administration of a 180 evaluation tool allows the employee in this case, a salesperson to rate their own sales competencies and their sales manager to rate the same competencies using the same criteria. These criteria were determined by Profiles through additional research, which found several sales-related competencies important for success in selling. When a salesperson develops these competencies, their sales success is greatly enhanced. These sales competencies can be developed through properly focused training. But where is the best place to focus this training for each individual? An important factor in training effectiveness is to establish how the salesperson is performing before training, so that measurable improvement in their performance can be seen over time. The use of an assessment that views the salesperson from more than one perspective is an effective, economical method of sales development. The Sales CheckPoint was developed to provide this multi-faceted picture of a salesperson s sales competencies, identifying those areas in which the salesperson excels, as well as those areas in which further professional development could increase their sales performance. In so doing, a performance appraisal method was developed that serves to mitigate the challenges in traditional performance rating systems, and provides a starting point for sales effectiveness to be improved through training and other professional development methods. 1

4 Development History Chapter 2: PRODUCT FEATURES The design team reviewed the literature on sales competencies, interviewed experienced sales executives from a variety of sales specialties using various types of sales approaches, and reviewed the content of a number of sales training programs. This resulted in a list of areas the Sales CheckPoint should address and some features the product should include. These are: Developing effective sales teams Improving individual sales performance Designing optimal training programs Identifying the most critical skill sets for success in sales Providing users a reference point for comparing their results to others results Providing guidance for the development of sales skills Producing reports for the salesperson s self-improvement and for managers use in supervising and training the salesperson Using business language to facilitate understanding of the results Presenting the results in both visual and written formats Using these ideas as a starting point, a preliminary list of sales competencies was developed. The list was reviewed and edited by an outside team of sales professionals including individuals experienced in selling, sales training, sales supervision, and sales performance evaluation. These sales professionals worked with the developers to refine the competencies to seven Universal Sales Competencies: Demonstrates Entrepreneurial Approach Understands the Prospect Develops Appropriate Solutions Prospects Proactively Manages the Selling Process Closes the Sale Manages Sales Relationships Each targeted competency contains more than one type of sales activity. Research yielded a total of 19 specific sales activities, or Skill Sets, that comprise the seven Universal Sales Competencies. A series of potential survey items were developed to reflect how frequently each of these 19 specific sales activities were observed in a salesperson s selling behavior. A panel of experts from the sales profession reviewed the potential survey items for 2

5 relevance and accuracy. This resulted in a set of 79 behavioral statements representing the 19 Skill Sets. When converting these 79 behaviors to survey items for the rater s response, a Likerttype approach was selected based on our earlier success in using these items in other similar products. The rater indicates how often they have observed the Salesperson displaying a given sales behavior. Each survey item asks the rater to choose from 5 levels of frequency: Almost Never, Seldom, Sometimes, Usually, and Almost Always. If the rater feels they cannot rate an item because they have not had the chance to observe that specific behavior, they may select a 6 th response, No opportunity to observe this behavior. In sum, the Sales CheckPoint is a survey consisting of: 7 Universal Sales Competencies 19 key Skill Sets 79 sales behavior statements 6 possible responses for each behavior Respondents The relationship between a Sales Manager and the Salesperson they supervise is important. The manager is in a unique position to observe the Salesperson s behavior, while applying their own knowledge of selling techniques and the product being sold. Of course, the Salesperson has their own perspective on their selling behaviors as well. It is important to capture the knowledge from both of these perspectives. To this end, the Sales Checkpoint incorporates both respondents ratings of the Salesperson s salesrelated competencies. When used in a survey, this 180-degree format records information about observations of the Salesperson s selling behavior from the perspectives of both the Salesperson and their Sales Manager. This allows both participants to see how their own responses compare with the other s responses. In addition, a clear point is made concerning any differences in perspectives. This information allows for a variety of reports concerning each perspective and how they differ with respect to not only competency levels, but also their impressions on possible areas for improvement. The Seven Universal Sales Competencies The structure of the instrument defines the seven competencies which represent the most critical sales performance areas. These competencies are: Demonstrates Entrepreneurial Approach Willingness to take the initiative to start projects or ventures and to accept the risk associated with them. 3

6 Understands the Prospect Recognizes the needs and desires of prospects and keeps a focus on the prospect and those needs. Develops Appropriate Solutions Aligns products or services with prospect's needs and offers solutions to satisfy those needs. Prospects Proactively Actively seeks out potential customers and efficiently identifies those that represent real possibilities for sales. Manages the Selling Process Focuses on client centered solution selling as a process to meet prospect's needs while impacting the bottom line. Closes the Sale Controls the sales process and expertly guides the prospect to the logical final step by obtaining a positive decision and sales agreement. Manages Sales Relationships Maintains prospect s focus through the entire sales process and delivers solutions as promised. These sales competencies were selected as the most suitable based on the research completed by the design team. The final individual survey statements were developed to define the measurable sales Skill Sets that make up the seven Universal Sales Competencies. It was important that the survey statements referred to observable behaviors related to success in selling. Each of the resulting Skill Sets related directly to one of the sales competencies. Psychometric Properties Reliability The reliability of each item, or survey statement, is particularly critical in a survey. When two individuals are asked to share their observations of another individual s behavior by responding to the same statement and their responses differ, it should be because they see the situation differently. In order to determine if they, instead, interpreted the statement differently, studies are conducted that ascertain the internal consistency, or reliability, of the items. Reliability of a survey indicates that different respondents perceive the statements in a consistent manner, and that differences in responses are due to variation in their opinions, not variation in how they interpreted the survey item itself. A study was conducted to establish the reliability of the Sales CheckPoint items and the results are shown in Table 1. The study sample consisted of 513 Salesperson observers who completed the Sales CheckPoint survey. The surveys were completed by instrument users to gain a better understanding of their sales force and to plan a sales training and development process for their sales group. 4

7 Table 1 Internal consistency alpha coefficients; N=513 Competencies Skill Sets Alpha Entrepreneurial Approach.99 Understands the Prospect.97 Develops Appropriate Solutions.99 Prospects Proactively.98 Manages the Selling Process.99 Closes the Sale.99 Manages Sales Relationships.98 5

8 Chapter 3: SALES CHECKPOINT REPORTS Report Development The Sales CheckPoint reports were developed with the goal of distilling and presenting complex sales competency rating data in a meaningful, comprehensive, yet accessible manner. The usability of the report by the end user was of paramount importance. As such, the design team first considered the various types of potential Sales CheckPoint users and their objectives for using the instrument. This led to an understanding that several reports would be necessary to maximize the effectiveness of the process for each user. The design team researched other performance rating system report products and found that most reports are based on compiled survey results, perceptual differences, and comparisons to normed data. The team s goal was to present Sales CheckPoint data in a clear, concise, and complete report, avoiding confusing formats and omission of critical information. During user testing of the Sales CheckPoint reports, the design team learned that one of the most important report features users desired was the Action Steps section, which provides a clear framework for improving sales performance. The design team solicited the help of experts in the field of sales development and management training to design and write the action steps and accompanying worksheet materials. They are considered to be one of the most useful features of the Sales CheckPoint. Use of the Sales CheckPoint information for self-improvement was a major design consideration of the Sales CheckPoint reports. Each report was designed to support the professional development of the Salesperson. The reports allow managers to understand areas for improvement and to focus on the appropriate methods to accomplish these improvements in sales performance. Additionally, the Sales CheckPoint reports were designed to provide a method of assessing and aligning the perceptions of the Sales Manager and the Salesperson in the areas of objectives, concerns, and needs for improvement. It was decided that both the Salesperson and the Sales Manager would independently select six of the 19 Skill Sets as most critical to the Salesperson s success. Competency ratings and the Salesperson/Sales Manager rating alignment in these Critical Skill Sets are identified and highlighted as special areas for consideration and development in the reports. These Critical Skill Sets provide a comparison of the degree of alignment between what the Sales Manager has decided is important for sales performance, and what the Salesperson considers critical for sales performance. 6

9 Report Features There are 7 different reports available for the Sales CheckPoint, where each report uniquely contributes to the sales training and development process. These include the Individual Feedback Report, Management Report, Individual Comparison Report, Management Comparison Report, Management Summary Report, Management Summary Comparison Report, and the Executive Overview. The comparison reports compare the results from two iterations of the Sales CheckPoint, showing results from a previous administration, and results from a current administration of the survey. The individual reports address the Salesperson, while the management reports address the Sales Manager. The Favorable Zone The Favorable Zone is shown in a number of report graphics, representing the range in which Salespersons identified by their organization as effective sales personnel were rated on the survey. This band of scores ranges from 4.0 to 5.0 and is useful as a reference point for comparing individuals scores with an outside standard. The Favorable Zone is not meant to be a standard for individual companies, or a mustachieve target. Rather, it simply reports collected information from the development of the Sales Checkpoint. Each Sales CheckPoint user should review the results in light of this Favorable Zone to determine the zone s application and effectiveness in indicating sales competency for their purposes. Gaps Gaps are shown with arrows and indicate significant perceptual differences between the Salesperson and Sales Manager. These occur when the ratings between the two individuals differ by 1 point or more in the Executive Competency Overview and the Executive Summary, and by 1.5 points or more in the Skill Set Analysis, when the report includes these sections. Gaps provide an important opportunity for discussion as to the basis for the perceptual differences in the ratings between the Salesperson and Sales Manager. Summary The Sales CheckPoint was developed to help evaluate the effectiveness of an organization s sales team. It provides feedback by both the Salesperson themselves and their Sales Manager on a Salesperson s behavior in seven Universal Sales Competencies. The reports provide information to assist in salespersons professional development. These reports provide perceptually accurate information about a salesperson s skills and competencies in the sales role. This is important in the selection of sales training activities designed to develop sales competencies. The reports also promote meaningful dialogue between each salesperson and their manager, known to be a critical factor in sales success. 7

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