Recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training new sales reps is expensive. The more you can shorten time-to-productivity, the faster you can recoup those costs. But that doesn’t mean you should set sales representatives loose without proper training—you need to measure and assess their sales readiness before they hit the floor.
Enter the sales enablement scorecard. Sales enablement typically oversees training and coaching reps, so it makes sense to have them manage sales readiness assessments too. Scorecards make it easy to assess reps across key skills, behaviors, and product or service knowledge. This approach also creates long-term benefits in the form of 1:1 reassessment to identify areas for retraining or sales coaching down the road.
This post will walk through how to build a scorecard to assess the skills of new hires and develop a plan to improve their sales proficiency before they hit the floor.
Start By Identifying Core Competencies for Your Sales Reps
What are the absolute basics every sales rep needs to know, understand, and execute to achieve consistent results in your sales organization? Proficiency in those competencies are the baseline for building sales enablement scorecards. This exercise will also help to align everyone to the same standards, including those outside of the enablement team.
While there are potentially hundreds of attributes and mastered skills you would like to see in each of your reps, the readiness scorecard should only focus on the most important competencies. If there are too many things to evaluate in a single scorecard it becomes confusing for both the evaluator and the rep. Here are a few examples of core competencies from a 2019 study of over 300 sales professionals:
- Delivering a clear value proposition (15 percent)
- Asking insightful and relevant questions to understand customer needs and challenges (11 percent)
- Matching the benefits of the company’s solution to customer needs (10 percent)
- Positioning insights that shape a customer’s thinking (9 percent)
Respondents identified other important skills, including gaining appointments, creating value and insight during conversations, building a case for change, becoming a trusted advisor, and, of course, building profitability.
There are probably a few proficiencies you’d add to the list that are unique to your organization. Be sure to consider developing a handful of scorecards for certifying new reps—for example, you may need to assess things like CRM processes and building hot lists in addition to pitching the value prop.
Evaluate Both Quantitative and Qualitative KPIs
Generally speaking, sales KPIs fall into three main categories: activity, productivity, and results.
Activity metrics measure how much work a rep has put in. They include the number of outbound emails or cold calls, calls per contact, time spent researching versus prospecting, etc.
Then there’s success metrics which are also quantitative, and center around how much revenue a rep has contributed toward. Of course, there are many ways to contextualize these metrics: looking at percentage of quota, comparison to previous performance, comparison to other reps, etc.
The thing that connects activity to success is that third category of KPIs: productivity. This helps you understand how well reps are applying their skills to prospect leads, build sales pipeline, and close revenue. Productivity KPIs are both quantitative and qualitative in nature.
Quantitative productivity KPIs include accounts and contacts prospected, calls per contact, connect rates, calls per opportunity, connects per opportunity, close rates, average deal size, win-loss ratio, etc.
Qualitative productivity KPIs answer questions like the following:
- Does the rep understand the industry, territory, market, and customer?
- Does the rep display understanding of our sales strategy?
- Is the rep able to answer questions and respond to objections?
- Does the rep deliver clear value propositions to the buyer?
- Does the rep deliver insights that can help shape the buying vision?
These metrics are clearly important; however, they’re not as easily quantifiable. To answer these questions, you need to turn to the rep’s conversations and glean important details from those interactions.
If you want your sales enablement scorecard to gather actionable insights for certifiers and coaches, you need to account for these qualitative and as quantitative KPIs. Including all types of metrics in a scorecard can give you balanced and actionable insight into how the rep is performing and where they need to improve.
Establish a Timeline with Key Milestones
You have a limited window to get new hires fully ramped, after all, you have revenue goals to hit based on their productivity. A great scorecard will help establish how well a rep has absorbed training and serve as a starting point for future coaching and evaluations. By establishing this baseline, sales enablement folks can turn to previous performance and look at trends to see how individual reps and entire start classes are executing at 30/60/90+ days.
Your timeline will determine the key sales performance benchmarks new reps have to hit during training and onboarding. Benchmarks can be set with weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly targets depending on the skills, behaviors, and knowledge being assessed.
Be sure to set targets across these areas:
Activity. Set targets for activity numbers and scale them up until reps reach full productivity. This is the input, the baseline effort a rep needs to give. If they can’t meet your expectations here, they’re going to face bigger problems down the line as they try to build pipeline.
Product and Service Knowledge. Unless you sell something that truly “sells itself”, it’s going to take time for your reps to learn your offerings inside and out. Set milestones for what they should know as they develop, with the ultimate goal of demoing offerings on their own.
Productivity—what results can the reps drive as they ramp up? These targets should be for things like when a rep should get their first meeting, their occurrence rate, and so on. Use both qualitative—are they having good conversations—and qualitative—are those conversations leading to meetings?—metrics to gauge where they need additional training and reinforcement. For full cycle reps, this helps them start filling their pipeline early.
Success during ramp up should be measured by both hitting milestones and improvement as time goes on. If a rep isn’t quite on target, but still shows upward trending performance, they’re still likely to be successful. When a rep isn’t hitting their milestones AND fails to show improvement week-over-week, something is amiss and they may not be cut out for the role. Have open conversations about potential poor-fits early and often to reduce wasted spend training someone who isn’t going to bring in revenue.
Following a systematic process can help you turn the scorecard into an indispensable tool that will drive consistent results across your entire team.
Deploy & Test Your Scorecard
Deploying a scorecard is relatively straight-forward once a method is chosen. Some organizations still utilize paper forms, which is easy to implement, but almost impossible to track. There are a number of technologies on the market that offer some scorecard functionality, but it’s often not linked to other systems. An exception to that is ExecVision’s conversation intelligence software, which allows scorecards to be completed directly on a sales conversation or in a Coaching Plan. This adds additional visibility and makes it significantly easier to track performance trends.
You also have to test, tweak, and test again. Any sales enablement scorecard you develop is going to be based on certain assumptions. Those assumptions may be right, or they may turn out to be off-base. Once you start using your scorecard to actually assess reps, you’ll quickly figure out which one it is.
If you find discrepancies between scoring the specific skills, behaviors, and knowledge in your scorecards and a rep’s actual sales readiness, you need to adjust your scorecards or your milestones. The good news is that scorecards are a living document meant to change with your business AND virtually no one gets it right on the first try.
Train, Coach, Certify & Re-Certify
Ultimately, insights and metrics dashboards only help if you can translate them into tangible performance improvements. Effective sales managers can bridge this gap by scoring, training, coaching, and then finally certifying reps as proficient in basic skill sets.
But, sales enablement doesn’t stop after onboarding, training and certifying a rep. The scorecards you build will help you assess their competencies and to see how much knowledge they’ve retained long after the initial training program is over.
Scoring is just one part of an ongoing coaching program. Whether delivered by the sales enablement team, sales managers, or seasoned reps, it is highly important reps receive highly personalized feedback about their performance so they can improve. One way to do this is through post-call coaching, which is very effective at reviewing both quantitative and qualitative KPIs.
Certifying your sales team helps cement the knowledge needed to succeed at your organization and allows leadership to verify reps can demonstrate those abilities. A sales enablement scorecard empowers trainers, enablement folks, and sales managers to identify a rep’s strengths and weaknesses, and drive behavior change that leads to more closed deals.
Whether it’s a new product launch or a change to your brand messaging, your sales enablement scorecard—as a part of your overall sales enablement strategy -—will help you remain agile and responsive to these changes, creating an overall faster path to revenue.