Valuable Sales Performance Info Hides in Plain Sight


“It’s not enough to look at aggregate performance
across the sales force; aggregation hides insight.”1.

A useful approach to assessing individual sales behaviors—and the conduct of small teams—is to identify what works among different customer segments, or what works for selling certain types of products or services.

An HBR blog posting on this topic cites several examples, including how Novartis evaluated specific selling behaviors used by a group of top-performing salespeople to find those characteristics that set them apart from average achievers. They then incorporated these traits into a new sales training program, which resulted in doubling the sales growth rate in a control group of average performers. Novartis subsequently went global with this new program.

They recommend looking for differentiating traits in these areas:

  • Performance Outcomes
    When sales results for comparable market opportunities differ markedly from one salesperson to another, how does individual performance differ?
  • Sales Activity
    When salespeople allocate their time differently, what lessons can be learned about how the differences impact individual sales performance?
  • Sales Potential
    When looking at sales per territory, factor in 1) the relative opportunity for prospects, and 2) market potential to see if changing territory size/boundaries could improve sales effectiveness and reduce travel costs. While this is more a sales management issue, it points to the importance of well-aligned resource allocations and incentives as critical components in optimizing performance.
  • 1. To read the HBR blog posting, How to Spot Hidden Opportunities for Sales Growth, click here.

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