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The Ultimate Guide to Sales Performance Reviews [Free Template]

author Ranee profile imageRanee Zhang
Feb 03, 20233 mins
What is a sales performance review?

Sales performance reviews identify your best sellers and find opportunities for everyone on your team to improve. This is an essential strategy for finding out what works – and what doesn’t – within your sales organization.

This article explains the role of sales performance reviews and how you can use them to motivate sales reps to achieve bigger things. It also explores different types of sales performance review examples (quarterly, annual, etc.) and explains how to plan them more effectively – including a free agenda template.

What is a sales performance review?

A sales performance review is a one-to-one meeting that analyses the performance of individual sales reps. They give team leaders a chance to run through the strengths and weaknesses of sales reps.

Here’s a quick definition from HubSpot definition:

“A sales performance review is an annual evaluation conducted by sales managers to gauge individual sales reps' performance, goals, productivity, and career development.”HubSpot

As HubSpot explains, a sales performance review evaluates the performance of sales reps in relation to the company’s business goals. Typically, these reviews are held every year but some sales managers – particularly, those managing large teams – may hold shorter reviews every quarter and more comprehensive sales performance reviews annually.

Why are sales performance reviews important?

Insights from Gartner (2022) reveal almost 90% of sellers feel burned out at work and 59% of sellers say their leaders fail to motivate them. Additionally, 67% said their leadership is overly optimistic and disconnected from the realities of selling.

A separate report from Gartner in 2022 found 83% of sellers reported medium or high drag.

These are concerning statistics for any team manager but they highlight the importance of running sales performance reviews.

Of course, sales performance reviews allow sales managers to assess the performance of their team and individuals. However, they also provide key opportunities to motivate sellers, praise their successes and keep them excited about hitting targets.

Effective sales performance reviews should include the following:

  • Performance review: An overall assessment of the sales rep’s performance over the last period and comparisons to previous periods.

  • Successes: Discuss the successes of the sales rep over the latest period and show the value this added to the business.

  • Improvements: Discuss any failings and opportunities to improve the seller’s performance in the next period.

  • Aspirations: Talk about the sales rep’s goals and ambitions, setting targets to help them progress in their career.

  • Assistance: Discuss potential ways the team or company can help the sales rep achieve more.

  • Targets: Agree on clear, achievable targets for the next period.

To motivate sales reps, it helps to demonstrate that you don’t expect perfection from anyone. Instead, you’re seeking to maximise the strengths of everyone and find opportunities to help them improve. Keep the tone positive and highlight how sales reps’ successes contribute to real business growth and the development of their career.

How to motivate reps in a sales performance review

The goal of a sales performance review is to improve the results of your sales team - collectively and individually. One of the biggest challenges for team leaders is discussing the weak points of each sales rep in a way that motivates them to improve, rather than discouraging them.

This requires a careful, balanced approach to planning and running your sales performance reviews.

The following steps will help you achieve this:

  1. Plan for motivating sales performance reviews

  2. Ask reps how they feel about their performance

  3. Use data to analyse sales performance

  4. Target high-impact improvements

  5. Set clear goals for the next period

  6. Use technology to make performance reviews productive

Step #1: Plan for motivating sales performance reviews

Later in this article, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how you can plan sales performance reviews. We’ll also explain how you can get a free template for planning and running your review meetings.

For now, the key point is that motivating sales performance reviews don’t happen by accident – you have to plan them carefully.

Step #2: Ask reps how they feel about their performance

Before you analyse sales reps’ performance, ask them how they feel they’ve done over the latest period. This gives you a chance to see how their interpretation aligns with performance data and allows them to raise any issues that could be holding them back.

Step #3: Use data to analyse sales performance

Always use data to analyse the performance of sales reps. This removes any risk of bias in your review meetings and it also ensures the analysis is impartial. Aside from providing a more accurate picture of performance, analysing the data – rather than the individual – reduces the risk of demotivating sales reps.

Crucially, it also tells you which performance factors contribute to business success and the changes that could improve results even further.

Step #4: Target high-impact improvements

Great sales managers know they can’t expect perfection from anyone on their team. They maximise the performance of their team by playing to everyone’s strengths and knowing which improvements will have the biggest impact on performance.

Instead of asking sales reps to change multiple things at once, use performance data to pinpoint high-impact changes that will have the strongest positive impact on their contribution to business results. 

Set out one, clear improvement for sales reps to target during the next quarter or year.

Step #5: Set clear goals for the next period

At the end of every sales performance review meeting, you should agree on clear goals and next steps for the following period. We’ve already discussed the idea of setting one, clear improvement for sales reps to target but this isn’t the only goal you might set.

As a team manager, you may have new goals for the team to achieve during the next quarter or year. Likewise, the business may have set new targets for the next quarter or year ahead. Equally, sales reps may have their own ambitions about what they want to achieve by the next performance review. 

Either way, the team manager and sales rep in question should both have a clear list of goals by the end of each sales performance review.

Step #6: Automate review meetings 

Planning and running successful performance review meetings is time-consuming. Luckily, today’s sales managers have tools like Airgram for automating repetitive tasks and minimising the time required for running performance reviews.

Later in this article, we’ll look at how you can use features like automated recording and AI transcription to run productive performance reviews effortlessly.

Sales performance review examples

Depending on the size of your sales team and the growth of your company, you may run several different types of sales performance reviews.

In this section, we look at five of the most common sales performance review examples:

  1. Quarterly performance reviews: Analyse performance over the previous quarter and set goals for the next.

  2. Annual performance reviews: Analyse performance over the previous year, comparing quarterly performance, and setting goals for the following year.

  3. Simple performance reviews: Short reviews held at the end of projects, campaigns or regular intervals (weekly, monthly, etc.).

  4. Career development reviews: Analyse the performance of sellers over several years and the development of their careers.

  5. Team performance reviews: Group meetings where you analyse the performance of your team as a whole.

Larger and traditional companies may rely more on annual and quarterly sales performance reviews. However, smaller and more agile sales teams constantly targeting short-term goals may have to run a higher volume of simple performance reviews to keep hitting targets.

This will make more sense as we take a closer look at each type of sales performance review.

Quarterly performance reviews

As the name suggests, quarterly sales performance reviews assess the performance of sales reps over the previous quarter.

In many ways, these are the simplest review meetings to run because you don’t need to worry about comparisons. Your priority is to highlight the best and worst aspects of performance over the previous quarter and set targets to improve performance in the next one.

The key benefit of running quarterly reviews is they give you multiple opportunities to analyse performance throughout the year. If you’re only running sales performance reviews at the end of each year, you’re leaving a lot of time between meetings for performance to drop off.

For most sales teams, quarterly reviews hit the sweet spot of regular performance assessment without overwhelming team members.

You can use this free quarterly performance review template to plan your meetings.

If you’re an Airgram user, you can edit the template above and save it for future use.

Annual performance reviews

Annual sales performance reviews assess the performance of sales reps over the previous year. If you’re also running quarterly reviews, you’ll want to analyse and compare performance across each quarter as part of your annual review.

By running annual and quarterly reviews as part of the same strategy, you can start to build a comprehensive picture of sales reps’ performance over time.

For example, you can identify periods where performance drops off and compare this with other team members to distinguish between individual slumps and wider issues across the whole team.

Annual sales performance reviews require more planning than quarterly reviews. The good news is, once you’ve got a format that worlds, you can run with it for years to come and only make occasional tweaks as required.

You can start planning your annual sales performance reviews with this free agenda template.

So it’s worth putting the time and effort into developing an effective framework for annual reviews. You gain a deeper level of performance insights – both for individuals and your team as a whole – and the quality of your analysis only increases each year as you collect more data.

After a few years, you’ll have enough data to start running predictive analytics. This will help you identify top-performing sales reps faster and spot the warning signs of performance drops before they happen.

Simple performance reviews

If quarterly sales performance reviews aren’t regular enough for your team, you may want to run simple performance reviews monthly, weekly or at the end of every project/campaign. These are shorter, faster reviews that may simply include reports for the sales rep to view and request a quick self-assessment from them.

You’re not going to solve any major problems with these simple performance reviews but they can help identify issues faster. For example, if sales reps are suddenly being held up by a software issue or a recent policy change is causing problems, you won’t have to wait until the end of the quarter for formal feedback.

You can start planning weekly, simple sales performance reviews with this free agenda template.

Running simple performance reviews regularly can also boost motivation if you focus on celebrating achievements. By constantly acknowledging the good work of your sales reps, you show that their efforts are appreciated. Use reports to show how their achievements contribute to the growth of the business and make them feel valued.

The counterpoint to this is that you should be careful with criticism when running regular simple performance reviews. Constantly criticising sales reps will kill morale so be selective about any negative points you raise. In most cases, you’ll only need to flag something up if it’s particularly serious or it’s a recurring issue.

Career development reviews

For the most part, sales performance reviews are designed to maximise the performance of your sales team. However, it’s also important to consider the goals and aspirations of individual sales reps. It doesn’t matter how much you motivate your sellers if they don’t have their own reasons for turning up to work every day and hitting targets.

This is where career development reviews come in. These performance reviews look at the progress sales reps are making over the course of many years and where they could end up. The focus is on their goals as a professional and what they want to achieve over the next year.

You can use this free meeting agenda template to plan career development reviews for your sales reps.

This is the angle you take with your career development reviews. However, these meetings are actually more valuable for the company and sales managers than the reps themselves.

First of all, career development reviews demonstrate that you care about the interests of everyone on your team – an essential tactic for boosting morale.

Secondly, they help you determine the ambitions of individual reps so you can distinguish between the sellers who could stay with you for years, the ones who might leave for somewhere else and the reps who are only interested in the pay packet.

More importantly, career development reviews allow you to analyse the performance of sales reps over several years and show them how much more they could achieve by improving in specific areas.

Team performance reviews

The sales performance reviews we’ve discussed so far are held on a one-to-one basis with individual sales reps. However, it’s also important to celebrate the successes of your team as a whole and identify opportunities for them to improve.

This is where running team sales performance reviews can help to keep everyone motivated and working together as a unit.

Airgram’s library of free meeting templates includes plenty of agenda templates you can use for planning team performance reviews.

In team performance reviews, the emphasis is on the collective successes and struggles of your team as a whole. You can celebrate individual wins where they contribute to the success of the whole team but be careful about flagging up any individual errors in these meetings.

The idea of team performance meetings is to demonstrate the value of everyone pulling together on shared goals and show the impact their collective efforts make. You also want to raise broader team issues that don’t call any individuals out for their performance.

Depending on the nature of your business, you might want to run team sales performance reviews every year, quarter or month. For highly agile sales teams, you might run team performance reviews even more regularly – eg: at the end of product development sprint runs.

Either way, these sales performance review examples should get you off to a good start.

The role of self-assessment performance reviews

While performance data reveals the true value of each member of your sales team, it’s also important to get feedback from them directly. Self-assessment involves sales reps describing what they think they’ve done well and what they could have done better over the latest review period.

In each sales performance review, ask sales reps to grade their own performance on key tasks, sales goals and their overall contribution to the team.

When asking reps to rate their own performance, use a scoring system with explanation text to help them make the correct selection. For example, ask them to rate their performance over the latest period on a scale of 1-5:

  1. Not meeting expectations

  2. Needs improvement

  3. Meeting expectations

  4. Exceed expectations

  5. Consistently exceed expectation

You’ll also want to ask sales reps questions to get more qualitative feedback. You might ask questions like: “What did you achieve over the previous quarter and what do you feel you could have done better?” or “How did you improve during the latest quarter and what are your goals for the next?”.

For questions like this, provide prompts and example answers to ensure you get relevant responses.

Sales performance review outcomes

To produce data-driven performance reviews, you need a scoring system that simplifies analysis for easy comparison. Based on the same 1-5 scoring system we discussed in the previous section, you would have five potential outcomes from each performance review:

  1. Not meeting expectations

  2. Needs improvement

  3. Meeting expectation

  4. Exceed expectation

  5. Consistently exceed expectation

This would give each sales rep a total score of 1-5 in every performance review, making it easy to view and compare performance over time.

To get to these aggregate scores, you’ll need to specify every aspect of performance you want to analyse in your reviews and score each factor between 1 and 5. You can also ask sales reps to score themselves on each of these factors to see how their perception compares to the manager’s.

You can see how this might look in the HubSpot example below:

The example above specifies the following rating factors for sales managers and reps to rate on a scale of 1-5:

  • Motivation level and drive – (Attitude, team play, calls reviewed, participation in training)

  • Time management skills – (Punctuality, daily planning, daily reviews, use of tools to manage time)

  • Attention to detail and processes – (Active listening on calls, takes notes, great summary emails firm future commitment, includes agenda)

  • Communication skills – written – (excellent email summaries, keeps good notes in CRM, uses prospects’ words back to them)

  • Communication skills – verbal – (Focuses on positive, listens more than they talk on calls, restates, reframes, validates, stands on calls for improved tone, confident and assertive)

  • Pipeline development – (Spends extra time prospecting, develops partnerships, generates client referrals, copies the best reps, develops social media expertise)

  • Forecasting accuracy – (Focuses on identifying and/co-creating compelling events, logs progress of every deal in CRM, ask about prospects’ calendar of events, resists urge to predict future)

  • Consistent application of our sales process & CRM – (Knows our deal stages, uses our CRM as instructed, adheres to milestones/outcomes required to move the stage, adds exact notes on each deal)

  • Understanding or target profile – (Knows target persona profiles inside out, knows top challenges and initiatives, speaks with authority about industry and people, process and systems, not product)

  • Discovery skills – (Conducts a solid current state vs. future state analysis and gets prospects to discovery where the holes are in their plan)

  • Ability to overcome objections – (Uses a library of give/gets and trades access to power for demo/pricing, pitches when it’s time)

  • Rep creates & follows a close plan – (Writes a step-by-step close plan, uses close plan on all calls past discovery)

  • Planning & follow-up – (Researches client before any call, sends pre-call appt. Confirmation and always sends post-call email summary in client’s own words, follows template and records in CRM)

  • Competitive intel – (Can name the top 5 competitors in their segment and can list strengths and weaknesses for each)

You can see how much detail is provided in the explanations of each factor in the example above. This gives you the opportunity to specify your priorities and make sure managers and reps are both considering the most important aspects of performance.

How to plan & automate sales performance reviews

Running regular sales performance reviews can require a lot of time and planning. To make sure they don’t drain too many resources, you need to develop an efficient process for planning and running every review.

The following steps will help:

  1. Know which sales performance reviews you want to run

  2. Create your sales performance review agenda template

  3. Automate scheduling & invites

  4. Record & transcribe meetings

  5. Use AI topic detection for faster analysis

  6. Set clear goals for the next sales period

  7. Add follow-up tasks for trackable next steps

The steps above will reduce the time it takes to plan each type of sales performance review and help you gain better insights from your meetings.

#1: Know which sales performance reviews you want to run

Earlier, we discussed some of the most common types of sales performance reviews and how to approach each of them:

  1. Quarterly performance reviews: Analyse performance over the previous quarter and set goals for the next.

  2. Annual performance reviews: Analyse performance over the previous year, compare quarterly performance, and set goals for the following year.

  3. Simple performance reviews: Short reviews held at the end of projects, campaigns or regular intervals (weekly, monthly, etc.).

  4. Career development reviews: Analyse the performance of sellers over several years and the development of their careers.

  5. Team performance reviews: Group meetings where you analyze the performance of your team as a whole.

Each type of performance review requires a different approach to planning and, as we saw earlier, a different type of meeting agenda. So, make sure you know exactly which type(s) of sales performance review meeting(s) you want to run before you start planning.

#2: Create your sales performance review agenda template

Careful planning is the key to running productive sales performance reviews. Your meeting agenda includes everything you need to cover throughout the review and defines time slots for each item to keep everything on track.

By sending your agenda to reps before the meeting, you can also give them time to prepare their thoughts and think about their performance. This means they’ll come into the meeting with something to contribute instead of taking unnecessary time to think on the spot.

Here’s our free quarterly performance review template and you’ll find plenty more templates for other types of performance review in our free library of meeting agendas.

Once you’ve got a set of sales performance review templates you’re happy with, you can reuse them for every meeting. This reduces the planning time required for future meetings and maintains consistency.

You can still make small tweaks and save edits over time but you’ll get the bulk of planning done with your first round of meetings.

#3: Automate scheduling & invites

Scheduling meetings for everyone in your sales team shouldn’t eat into your planning time. With meeting automation software, you can create slots for everyone on your team, send invites and sync up to planning tools like Google Calendar.

Airgram can automate the whole cycle of scheduling and running your sales performance reviews. You can create slots and assign them to team members with a few clicks and automatically send out invite notifications to everyone’s inbox.

Invitation emails include the time slot for each team member and a link for them to join the meeting. Airgram integrates seamlessly with Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, automatically connecting you to the meeting software you already use.

All meetings are automatically scheduled in Google Calendar so everyone’s schedule is up-to-date.

#4: Record & transcribe meetings

Recording sales review meetings is important for a couple of reasons. As with any review meeting, you want to keep documentation of everything that is said by attendees. Secondly, it benefits sales performance to analyse the points raised during meetings.

For example, you may find sales reps raise certain issues that are impacting performance.

Manually taking and analysing handwritten notes of every meeting simply isn’t practical. Thankfully, Airgram’s intelligent recording system can automatically record and transcribe every meeting you hold.

This gives you documentation of every meeting you hold without any manual input. You can concentrate on holding the meeting itself and getting the best out of your time with sales reps without worrying about note-taking.

#5: Use AI topic detection to extract key info

Automatically recording meetings and notes is one thing but analysing them is another challenge entirely. Trawling through video footage and meeting transcriptions isn’t a productive way to get insights.

Luckily, Airgram’s AI topic detection system can spot repeating themes in meeting transcripts to flag up key insights for you. For example, if several reps talk about a specific software issue that’s getting in the way of their workflow, Airgram will detect this talking point and the fact it’s been mentioned multiple times.

AI Topic can even detect who is speaking at any given time in the meeting and it logs contextual information – including times and dates – to help you spot important trends more easily.

#6: Set clear goals for the next sales period

A key outcome of sales performance reviews is defining clear goals for the next sales period. Team managers should already know their goals for the whole team and individual sales reps before they attend these meetings.

However, it’s important to consider the goals of individual sellers and listen to any concerns they might raise during the review. In some cases, you may find sellers have reasonable explanations for certain aspects of their performance or why some of your goals aren’t realistic.

Be prepared to listen to feedback and consider this in your own goals. If your team is telling you their current mix of software and hardware isn’t up to the task, you need to pay attention.

At the end of each review meeting, agree on a set of goals and next steps with each sales rep. You can clarify your goals for the whole team and what you want to see from each seller. But make this a two-way exchange where you discuss goals and agree on realistic targets together.

#7: Add follow-up tasks for trackable next steps

Agreeing on goals and next steps are better for motivation but it also makes sales reps more accountable. If sales reps have agreed to do something and you’ve got this agreement on record (video and transcript), then sales reps are held to their word.

Action items in Airgram help team managers and sales reps meet their goals.

You can create action items in your meeting, assign them to sales reps (or groups) and set deadlines.

Get more impact from your sales performance reviews

Effective sales performance reviews should produce invaluable insights into the performance of your sellers. You should know who your best sales reps are, what they’re good at and what they could improve to achieve even bigger things for your company.

Of course, they should also identify underperformance but the goal isn’t to discourage or vilify individuals in your sales performance reviews. You want to motivate better performance and the advice in this article should help hit the right tone.

Ranee Zhang

Ranee has worked in the SaaS industry for nearly ten years. She loves working with, learning from, and helping develop effective leaders and is willing to share her thoughts through words. Outside of work, you can find her dancing, hiking in the mountains, or reading in a cafe.

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