Employee reviews are a necessary part of the employee-development experience. I had the good fortune of being a part of two very different types of reviews during my time at Care.com. We were reviewed once a year on our performance, and once a year by a selection of our peers and co-workers. The yearly performance reviews were always great, because I got to hear directly from my boss how he thought my year had went. Sharing what I succeeded in doing, where I needed help in the last year, and what his expectations were for me in the coming year were really helpful in my growth as a leader. The yearly peer review, however, was even more instrumental in my evolution because my boss wasn’t on the floor with me day to day. He didn’t see everything that was going on simply because he couldn’t. My peers and employees though? That’s a different story. I learned some big lessons because of those reviews.
One of the most important lessons I learned because of the peer reviews came from one of my inside sales reps. At the time, I had a team of about 8 ISRs, and one of them just wasn’t cutting it. He was fantastic at closing inbound leads, but those were few and far between. What he really wasn’t doing was making outbound dials and prospecting, nor was he hitting his number. For months. Consistently missing the mark. My better reps saw this and one of them, on my peer review, told me that it made them feel like they didn’t need to work hard. They said that if he didn’t have to work hard to keep his job, why should they bust their butt to beat their number every month.
Wow – that really gave me a reason to be concerned. I really liked this lower performer and hoped that by keeping him on the team that he’d eventually “turn it around.” That never happened, though. My top performers knew it and were frustrated by it, but they never told me. With the help of an anonymous peer review, I was able to get some great constructive criticism that helped me grow as a leader. I put that low performer on a performance improvement plan, and he just couldn’t make it work, so I had to let him go. Years later, I deduced which one of my ISRs shared that comment on my review, and thanked her for being so honest and for helping me grow as a leader.
In the event that your company does not do reviews, I’d like to share with you how you can build two separate annual reviews for your sales development reps, and discuss the importance of each.
The Yearly Performance Review
Your yearly performance review for your sales development reps should be comprised of four parts:
- KPI/Goal Attainment
- High Points
This section of the performance review is where you layout for the SDR how they fared against their goals for the year. You may comp them monthly, you may comp them quarterly, but I would be hard pressed to believe that any of you only compensate your SDRs on a yearly basis. It’s surprising to me, the number of young SDRs who do not keep track of their own stats. This is a chance to present to them all of their work over the course of the last year. As an aside, you can also then teach them the importance of keeping their own stats so that when it’s time for them to move on to their next role, they can transition those numbers to their resumes or LinkedIn profiles.
You want to have a page for each of the KPIs that you expect your reps to attain, and then how they did against those goals. You can do this in an Excel doc, a Word doc, a Google Doc, whatever, but do it so that they can see clearly how they stacked up against the goals put in front of them. Let’s take dials for example; you can display their stats to them as simply as this:
The point is that they see all of their stats in a review that you have compiled for them. One of the beautiful thing about sales is that our numbers can speak for themselves. For us here at QuotaFactory, our SDRs would see their average dials per day, the average number of quality conversations they’re having per day, the number of meetings they’ve booked per month, the number of those meetings that have completed, and the number of those completed meetings that have converted to an SQL.
The numbers will lead the review discussion. How did they hit the numbers they hit? What would they do differently? What will they keep as a strategy into the new year? Why did they fall short in one category, but wildly overachieve in another? Which part of their sales stack helped them? Which one can they do without? This should be a lengthy, back and forth discussion. Give your SDR the opportunity to talk about their numbers, and to be proud of what they did over the last 12 months.
This section is going to require that you’ve taken notes on your SDRs over the last year. You want to detail out every great moment they’ve had over the last 12 months, and let them see that you’ve noticed. You very well may have celebrated a great achievement in the moment (as you should!), but they’ll be thrilled to see that you remember it “X” number of months later.
What has your SDR really excelled in? Have they really been a huge help in on-boarding new reps? Have they made great in-roads for your AE’s at new logos? Have they helped a colleague work on new messaging? Maybe they’re the go to person when someone wants to role-play out a new cold calling opener? How have they contributed to the overall culture of the team? Of the company? What you want to do is load on the praise for a job well done here. A 2013 study on employee engagement found that, “83% of their respondents said recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts.”
In your Challenges section, this is where you want to detail out (and I stress the word “detail”) all of the areas of potential improvements you see for your rep. Be careful not to let this section become a dumping ground for what you don’t like about someone. Spend some thoughtful reflection on each of your reps and on the areas that they really need some work on. Show them where their missteps were in the past year, what the ramifications of those missteps were, and most importantly, how you think you can help them. While I am a firm believer that SDRs are responsible for their own self-development, I also believe that those of us in leadership positions would be remiss if we didn’t share how they can get better.
Bullet out for your SDRs exactly where their opportunities for improvement lay, and then ways for them to get there. You need to be as clear as possible, so as to not confuse them or have any questions on how they can succeed. For example:
Objection Handling needs improvement
- Read “The Ultimate Guide to Objection Handling.”
- Bucket our objections into the five categories from the article.
- Create objection kill sheet.
- Spend the first 30 minutes of each day role playing objection handling scenarios.
Whatever their needs are, along with giving them instructions, make sure you’re making yourself available to help out, too.
In this last section of your yearly performance review, the goal here is to set the tone for the upcoming year for your SDR. Where do you see them going? Where do you see potential opportunities for advancement? What do they need to do to get there? This is your chance to vision cast for your rep. Let them see how you think they’re able to make an impact not only in your SDR group, but maybe for your company overall. Write it down for them, so that they can use your words as motivation moving forward. Hearing what you think their prospective next move could be just may be the fuel to a fire they need set under them to get cranking on fixing the challenges you shared with them.
Compile all of these sections up into a single document that you can print out and walk your SDR through, and you’ve got yourself a pretty comprehensive annual performance review. Conduct 1:1s with each of your SDRs and spend some good time walking through the document that you’ve put together for them.
As we move on to the peer review for next week, I’d like to suggest you run this peer review mid-way through the year. As the leader, while we’re going to have mostly peers give this second review, you’re still going to need to compile it, and there’s no need to do two large-ish reviews back to back.
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