|     6 min read

The Sales Leader’s Ultimate Guide to Managing Sales Performance

Kaleena Stroud

Apr 18, 2022

Hey you, Sales Leader.

Yeah, you. How’s your team’s sales performance?

Managing a sales team can be a struggle. It can be as demanding as all get out. We get it: many companies rely heavily on their highest-performing sales reps to drive revenue. But what if, instead, managing sales performance was more predictable?

Cultivating and managing sales performance on your team separates the big leagues from the little leagues. 

And with the trend moving toward remote work, additional layers of complexity arise on how to not only manage the team but keep motivation and morale high.

Doing so boils down to two things: sales performance and performance management. 

What is Sales Performance?

Sales performance, at the heart of it all, is how effective your sales team members are at hitting their sales targets. And how do you measure that performance? It depends on your industry and business goals. 

Revenue is certainly one way to measure performance, but there’s a slew of metrics (more on this later!) to determine if your team is stacking up to your standards like retention rate, customer acquisition, and more—oh my!

Woman fainting

Real footage of sales managers trying to sort through Salesforce data and measure their team’s performance in 2022.

With so much data to manage, what’s a Sales Leader—to do?!

Enter: Sales Performance Management (SPM).

What Sales Performance Management Is – And What It Isn’t

G2 defines sales performance management as “…software [that] helps sales managers track sales operations against goals and quotas.” It then adds that “monitoring sales effectiveness is a critical task for businesses with a dedicated sales force.” 

How critical, you ask? According to OpenSymmetry, 81% of sales reps achieve their annual quota at companies that have embraced SPM, compared to a less exciting 25% at companies that haven’t.

Sales performance management isn’t …

To understand SPM, you need to look at an even more jargony word, Incentive Compensation Management (ICM). 

ICM was the OG for transitioning companies away from spreadsheets and toward automation, helping reps and leaders alike believe in the role of tech for achieving quota. 

But nowadays, leaders need something bigger and better if they want to streamline operations and improve performance.

Jaws - we need a bigger boat

Sales performance management is …

SPM is the bigger and better version of ICM, including many areas that directly impact the sales team and organization at large. Take a glimpse at the snapshot below to get an idea.

Data management and sales performance graphic

Source: OpenSymmetry

It’s more than just the software, too. It’s a holistic approach to sales enablement, planning, managing, compensating, analyzing, and thus, improving sales performance at scale to drive revenue and sustainable growth.

Understanding the Sales Ecosystem

When there’s dysfunction in the ecosystem, we tend to blame a single source. But that usually leads to a quick fix rather than a seamless, high-performance team. 

“We tend to close the deal and walk away,” says Sophia Francis, Director of RevOps at Dooly. “But we want to look at lifelong retention, transition customers to the CS team, and more, so data should include target market strategy, sales force effectiveness, sales operation, talent management, and marketing staff. It’s really about how the entire go-to-market team works together.” 

“[D]ata should include target market strategy, sales force effectiveness, sales operation, talent management, and marketing staff.”

Sophia Francis, Director of RevOps

Luckily, SPM productivity tools span across the entire ecosystem.

Why is Sales Performance Management Important and How Does it Help?

Sometimes, there can be a disconnect between the effort put in and the tangible sales outcomes. Here are some of the best ways SPM helps support your biz.

Helps Predict Future Sales Trends

SPM can provide valuable data to help you forecast future sales trends, particularly for commission-based compensation plans. 

For example, Dooly gave BigCommerce 50% more pipeline visibility with better Salesforce data. That helps them accurately forecast with reliable data on key sales metrics like sales cycle and average deal size.

Performance-Based Compensation

Sales agents love chasing big commissions. SPM allows you to report more accurate compensation figures – and compensating reps based on performance helps attract and retain the best of the best talent.

Allows Sales Reps to Build Their Skills

When your entire sales system is aligned with your strategy and process, you can target your enablement and training resources to provide the optimal support for the salesperson.

Builds a Stronger Sales Rep Pipeline

Understanding their pipeline is what determines if a sales team sinks or swims. Robust SPM not only helps build your pipeline faster but also provides a continuous feedback loop that monitors, analyzes, forecasts, and actively manages pipeline performance.

How to Implement an Effective Sales Performance Management Process

How can you make sure you’re tracking and managing the right metrics? How can you lead your reps to perform without micromanaging them? Here are some tips to get started.

Decide What Performance Metrics You Want to Assess

The best way to judge sales performance is by measuring multiple metrics.

“You start with the basics and then you expand based on how your users are interacting with your product,” says Francis. “For example, in a freemium model, you may want to track who signs up, who is using and adopting, and who is inviting their teammates to use our product. If you’re an enterprise, you may want to dig into more of the opportunity level data.”

“You start with the basics and then you expand based on how your users are interacting with your product.”

Sophia Francis, Director of RevOps

Communicate Objectives to Your Team and Get Their Buy-in

Now that you have the metrics to measure your team’s performance, communicate them directly to the team to get their buy-in. This gives your reps a chance to decide if they can reach said goals, voice any concerns, and make adjustments if necessary.

Coach and Develop Reps to Build Performance-Improving Skills

Reps need space to learn and develop their skills. In The New Science of Sales Force Productivity, HBR reports, “Merely setting such goals is not enough. Supporting them with management processes, selling materials, and automated tools for measuring leading indicators and results is what makes outcomes more predictable.” 

You can turn to Dooly for that. Dooly’s playbooks help reps instantly implement training by surfacing the content (competitive battlecards, case studies, objection handling tips) reps need in real-time.

Dooly playbooks and managing sales performance

Provide Performance Feedback to Reps on a Regular Basis

Now that you’ve laid down the foundation and you have a clear view of what’s working and what isn’t, it’s time to give performance reviews. Regularly giving well-rounded performance reviews will keep the success of your sales team on track.

With Dooly’s pipeline editor, you can pull up a rep’s opps into one dashboard, so you have all the intel you need to see where reps are and where they can improve.

Dooly pipeline editor and managing sales performance

What Should You Look For in Sales Performance Management Software?

According to G2, Sales Performance Management software must feature the following factors in order to qualify as such:

  • Manage and record sales performance on a team and individual basis
  • Provide visuals to accompany sales performance data
  • Monitor progress in relation to team and individual goals and provide tools for course correction
  • Offer reports on data that aid in understanding successes and failures

Managing Sales Performance Summary

Bottom line: Sales performance management solutions are boosting salesforce productivity by a cool 5-10%, according to Forrester. Creating a holistic view of the entire sales process provides a structured, transparent view of the health of the sales teams. 
Adapting new tech like SPM is the key to a well-oiled sales team. Want a command center view of your team’s performance? You’re not alone. See why top sales leaders from Intercom, Asana, and Figma use Dooly every day to prioritize their pipeline and ramp reps faster. See Dooly in action.

Join the thousands of top-performing AEs who use Dooly every day to stay more organized, instantly update their pipeline, and spend more time selling instead of mindless admin work. Try Dooly free, no credit card required. Or, Request a demo to speak with a Dooly product expert right now.

Kaleena Stroud

Kaleena Stroud is a freelance copywriter and content strategist for human-centric SaaS and DTC brands. She’s had her hand in everything from startups to Fortune 500 companies, with a focus on taking their words from drab to fab. She currently lives in Barcelona. Find her at www.kaleenastroud.com.