In this rapidly changing sales environment, there is often a stark disconnect between what management sees or does and what reps want and need.
While sales productivity is a key revenue driver, higher activity volume doesn’t always mean that key metrics like close rate or average selling price go up.
Without quarterly reviewing productivity, time management, and communication skills, there’s no tangible way for a manager to monitor and improve sales success.
Sales Performance Review
A sales performance review is an annual evaluation conducted by sales managers to gauge individual sales reps’ performance, goals, productivity, and career development.
Anatomy of a Sales Performance Review
To properly manage sales performance reviews, you need to include numerical ratings with verbiage or phrasing to justify the conclusions drawn for every rep.
Sales Performance Review Ratings
Performance reviews are personal experiences, and the feedback you give should accurately reflect the performance of each rep you’re reviewing. With a large team, it can be easy to slip into providing similar feedback to each person.
Using ratings corresponding to numbers; lower performance is indicated by the lowest number and high performance is awarded high numbers. The following performance review ratings break them down:
- Does not meet expectations
- Needs improvement
- Meets expectations
- Occasionally exceeds expectations
- Consistently exceeds expectations
Sales Performance Review Phrases
These phrases help managers write performance reviews supported by numerical score to better explain of what the rep is doing well and what they can improve.
1. Does Not Meet Expectations
Does the rep struggle to fill their pipeline and make sales? Do they make excuses for their poor performance?
If the rep isn’t meeting the expectations of their role, use these phrases to communicate why they’re receiving a rating of “Does not meet expectations.”
- Doesn’t understand the core product offerings of [X company]
- Conducts little to no research on a prospect before a call
- Provides limited data/information in the CRM
- Unwilling to improve their presentation skills
2. Needs Improvement
A rep might be close to meeting expectations but still has some aspects of their job that they need to work on. Maybe they’re a new rep who’s close to hitting their quota but is just shy each month. Or they’re a more tenured rep struggling to apply a new sales approach to their workflow.
Identifying these areas for improvement in the performance review will provide points to work on during any coaching or training after the performance review.
- Struggles to overcome objections
- Lacks confidence when negotiating
- Relies too heavily on discounts, resulting in lower margins
- Prospecting and presentation skills are improving, but they rarely hit their monthly quota
3. Meets Expectations
This employee checks all the boxes and consistently performs at or above the expected performance level. They consistently hit their quota each month.
Here are some positive phrases you can use to let them know they’re doing an excellent job.
- Sets reasonable goals and hits those goals each month
- Takes extra care to understand the prospect’s challenges and priorities fully and provides them with a holistic solution
- Consistently meets their quota
- Enters prospect and deal information into the CRM on time and includes thorough notes so the deal’s status is clear to the team and management
4. Occasionally Exceeds Expectations
A rep might be exceeding quota more and more often but falls short of your top performers and does not yet have the confidence to be a leader on the team. This individual has a lot of potential and needs some coaching to perform even better:
- Was X% above the target [X period, quarter]
- Exceeded quota X out of X sales [X%]
- Demonstrates initiative and is eager to learn and apply new sales techniques
5. Consistently Exceeds Expectations
Reps who exceed expectations go above and beyond the requirements of their day-to-day role. They might take on additional projects, train other reps, or tackle their team’s reporting.
If your rep consistently exceeds expectations, provide clear feedback so they know they’re doing outstanding work.
- Introduced a new approach for pipeline management that was X% more effective than the previous process
- Goes above and beyond to handle objections and provide value each call
- Is a leader on the team and helps fellow sales reps with call shadowing and feedback sessions
- Consistently exceeds their quota, and was X% above the target in [X period, quarter]
Sales Performance Review Examples
Does Not Meet Expectations
When a rep is receiving majority low scoring reviews on rating factors, resulting in average ratings beneath two, they’re not meeting the expectations of their position. This can also be a result of a rep undergoing difficult times and could be a huge indicator that the employee is in need of much more support.
- “Rep seems to be struggling to grasp and adapt to the requirements and expectations of their role. Further training and mentoring support are needed to assist them in building up their skills and capabilities.”
For any ratings with an average above two and lower than three points, they’re considered to be performing their job duty with room for improvement.
- “Rep has room for improvement when meeting the requirements of their role. They will have to invest in training exercises to ensure their work i of a high standard.”
When a rep has an average rating above three and lower than four, it means they are performing their job as outlined in their job description. They are meeting their given quota but not going beyond their potential.
- “Rep has successfully executed their deliverables on a consistent basis, demonstrating their time management and trustworthiness.”
Occasionally Exceeds Expectations
If the average rating is no lower than three and no higher than three and a half, the rep is occasionally exceeding expectations. This is an indicator that they have gone past their quota and are demonstrating that they are responsible and able to tackle more tasks.
- “Rep has demonstrated the value they add to the team. They go above expectations in different aspects of their job performance by proactively seeking opportunities to grow and learn new skills.”
Consistently Exceeds Expectations
For any average rating beyond three and a half, the rep being evaluated is consistently exceeding expectations. A manager will recognize that the rep is a top performer, and should be considering them for a merit-based raise, and or promotion.
- “Rep has responded admirably to changing and sometimes challenging situations, always showing adaptability and problem-solving skills even under rigid deadlines. Their attention to detail and work are delivered at an exceptional standard. Rep is a strong team player and brings energy and innovative thinking to the table.”
Sales Performance Review Self-Assessment Examples
During performance evaluation periods, you should also consider having each sales rep write up a self-assessment. It allows the rep to reflect on their performance in their own words, giving you insight into how they think about their role, their place on the team, and their accomplishments/challenges. You might also look to see how aligned your perspectives are as a manager with those of the rep, which could clue you into your alignment in a broader sense.
A good self-assessment includes:
- Specific examples of accomplishments and contributions to the team
- Performance outlined in concrete numbers
- An explanation of the “why” they performed the way they did
- Details on how they see themselves growing
These items will indicate how conscientious the rep is of their performance and whether their approach is working. It will also give you context around how to coach them toward success.
Here are some sample answers from a self-assessment that might indicate when a salesperson is “occasionally exceeding expectations”:
1. Quantitative approach to self-assessment.
As a new BDR on the team, my role is to generate qualified leads for our pipeline with a goal of 5-7 SQLs per month. In my first quarter on the team, I’ve met and exceeded this threshold with an average of 9 SQLs per month at a 25% lower number of touches per prospect than the team-wide average. I am pleased with this performance, especially in the context of the closing ratio that these SQLs maintained. This indicates to me that I am prospecting effectively, targeting the right opportunities, and managing my time well throughout the process. I’m interested in increasing my performance in line with company expectations for the coming year.
This employee measured themselves against team-wide benchmarks and the duties described in their job description.
2. Using the STAR method for self-assessment.
During my performance review last quarter, we identified a lackadaisical approach to the CRM being one of my biggest limiting habits. I heard that feedback loud and clear and re-operationalized my use of our CRM, which is one of the reasons why I was able to meet and exceed my personal revenue targets by 11% with a closing rate higher than the team-wide average. With thorough organization and note-taking, I was able to shorten my time to close, a big contributor to my higher performance since last quarter. In addition, I was able to disseminate some of my new processes to other SDRs, increasing better CRM adoption across the wider team. With that said, I am still not among our highest performers, and I could improve my attention to detail and response times.
This employee used the STAR method to describe some of their accomplishments on the way to achieving a certain result.
3. Skills-based approach to self-assessment.
“Ever since implementing more rigorous training to improve my communication skills, I have met and exceeded new hire expectations for sales performance. For the first quarter of the year I was under monthly revenue targets and knew I had to engage in continued education to improve my ability to make a lasting impression with clients. Since completing additional training, I’ve been able to meet and exceed my personal revenue target in the most recent quarter, selling 107% of my target in June, 111% in May and 105% of my sales target in April. The biggest factor in my success has been my improved pitch, and more consistent responsiveness throughout the sales process. My timely responses and attention to detail have resulted in a higher closing rate for new customer inquiries and enabled me to exceed my sales targets.”
This employee measured their growth and improvement based on vital soft skills that helped them succeed in achieving sales targets.
Sales Performance Evaluation Template
HubSpot and InsideSales.com have created this quarterly sales rep review and coaching template to help managers measure and coach their inside sales reps to consistently improve performance each quarter.
The template includes:
- A template for manager review and rep self-review
- The key activities/skills of top sales reps
- A template to monitor areas of focus for the next review
Grab your copy of this template and start coaching your reps towards higher output and revenue for your business today. If you choose to download this free resource, you’ll be able to record goals and soft skills assessments for your team, we’ll walk through the function of each below.
In the goals assessment, you’ll be able to track your reps’ ability to hit quota. Each row and column is fully customizable to fit the metrics your company values most.
Record their progress for each quarter of the year to gauge their progress based on the percent achieved, and use the information collected in tandem with the attached soft skills assessment template.
Soft Skills Assessment
This template gauges the qualitative side of a reps’ performance, and looks at other essential functions of the job description like their motivation, time management, discovery and forecasting skills.
Conducting Specific, Actionable Performance Reviews for Your team
Performance reviews are a personal process and should be conducted as such. Use this guide and template to customize your performance review process and ensure your reps have everything they need to succeed (and help you succeed, too).
One of the best ways to ensure you’re providing unbiased, actionable advice across all of your team members is by operationalizing the process, using a template, and understanding their next steps.