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A Comprehensive Toolkit for Employee Performance Reviews (With Examples)

Mar 05, 2024
5 min read

Enhance your appraisal process with Xactly's practical toolkit of employee performance review example questions, tips, and information. In this article, you'll learn about the intricacies of effective sales-focused performance reviews and discover how to master the complexities of questioning and evaluating responses.

What Are Employee Performance Reviews in Sales?

Employee performance reviews in sales are periodical, structured appraisals of each team member. Consistently maintaining a two-way conversation about performance offers an array of benefits, including:

  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Cultivating accountability
  • Facilitating targeted training initiatives based on skill gaps and goals
  • Gaining actionable feedback from employees about gaps and opportunities
  • Informing fair incentive and remuneration packages
  • Providing an opportunity to recognize excellence
  • Helping catch performance issues promptly
  • Creating paths for employee development within the company

Engaged employees are more likely to be enthusiastic brand ambassadors who go the extra mile and enhance the customer experience. Furthermore, taking a data-driven approach to performance reviews places a wealth of possibilities at your fingertips. Using employee performance software to manage reviews automates and refines strategic resource allocation, talent development, incentive management, and more.

Ultimately, performance reviews enable process optimization and increase revenue via a multitude of benefits.

Types of Employee Performance Review

Well-organized and deftly delivered employee performance reviews are a linchpin of high-performing Sales teams, providing actionable insights for growth and success. There are three types of performance reviews, each adding something unique to the overall process.

Let's briefly explore what happens during a manager, self, and peer performance review.

Performance review by managers

Managers are frontline evaluators with access to all employee data and first-hand knowledge of each team member. They conduct performance reviews, asking questions and communicating key sales performance metrics — including what's going well and what needs improvement. Leaders can offer praise and get curious about how each employee perceives the brand and how they view customers' opinions of it.

Making sure it's a two-way conversation is essential for getting the most out of performance reviews. Remember, you can learn as much about your operation from sales employees as they can learn from the training and development initiatives you offer. In addition, asking an employee to self-review can be a great way to navigate challenging discussions and motivate change.

Self-performance review

A self-performance review is inspired by motivational interviewing, in which a subject is encouraged to take action for its benefit instead of being persuaded to do so. The theory is that someone is more likely to be motivated and committed to change if the drive comes from within rather than from an outside influence.

An effective way to conduct this type of performance review is by providing staff with a list of questions the manager will ask. Ask each team member to bring their answers to the meeting, where the manager and employee compare answers, using both questionnaires to direct the conversation.

If a majority of team members' opinions of themselves aren't aligned with management's, there could be an issue with training or communication in the Sales department. On the other hand, if there's a culture of open communication and transparency, there shouldn’t be much deviation between manager and employee review answers.

Peer performance review

Peer performance reviews capture insights into communication, teamwork, and attitude you wouldn't necessarily glean from a manager or the subject themselves. The 360-degree feedback method is a tried and true way to gain a well-rounded understanding of each employee's contribution to the Sales team. This involves asking for peer feedback, self-feedback, and feedback from the management team.

Employee Performance Review Examples and Tips

To make employees feel comfortable and relaxed during an appraisal, it's important to be fully prepared. That means carefully planning what to say in a performance review so you can give a slick and professional presentation and inspire them to open up.

How to write a performance review for an employee

Here are some tips to help you craft an employee performance review that offers insights into the individual, how they perceive your company, and their growth potential.

  1. Let them choose where to start: A great way to begin an employee performance review is by asking where the subject would like to start — with constructive feedback or areas of achievement. This engages them in the process immediately, while taking a tricky decision off your hands!
  2. Emphasize soft skills: Data and results demonstrate how adept a salesperson is at fulfilling their duties. For a full picture, explore how they contribute to your company's culture, and gain insights into how they view themselves, their colleagues, and your customers.
  3. Address adaptability and learning agility: Help them understand the importance of adaptability and agility in today's business landscape and gauge their approach to continuous learning. Engaged employees with the drive to improve tend to add more value and are prime candidates for training opportunities and promotions.
  4. Learn about their motivations: Always inquire about an employee's future goals during a performance review. When it comes to retaining top-performing salespeople, being able to offer development opportunities aligned with their future goals is critical.
  5. Discuss development opportunities: If you're keen for an employee to stick around long-term, make it clear that they can progress with your company and outline specific steps they can take to prepare.
  6. Ask for real-world examples of customer interactions: Include questions that provide insights into how the employee views and interacts with customers. Salespeople are often the first ones a prospect will speak to, so they must be living and breathing brand values.

Questions to ask an employee during an employee performance review

Here are some examples of employee performance review questions:

  1. Would you like to begin by talking about your areas of excellence, or start with constructive feedback?
  2. How would you describe the way you interact with colleagues and customers?
  3. Please share instances where you've embraced change and demonstrated a willingness to improve.
  4. What are your long-term career goals and how well does your current role align with your plans?
  5. Please provide a real-world example of a time you turned a difficult customer's attitude around.
  6. How do you weave brand values into your customer interactions?
  7. Do you conduct any research into sales techniques and strategies independently?
  8. Are there any skills or areas of knowledge you're looking to build on this year?
  9. Share instances where teamwork played a crucial role in your success.
  10. Do you see yourself in a leadership role in the future, and if so, what steps do you need to take to get there?

Examples of employee responses to a performance review

Here are some desirable and less desirable responses to questions one through four:

Desirable answer:

  1. Let's start with the areas of improvement so we can finish on a high!
  2. I aim to embody the company's values and put my best foot forward when speaking to colleagues and customers.
  3. When the new incentive software was introduced, I created an A4 training sheet to help myself and my colleagues understand how it works.
  4. My long-term goal is to lead a high-performing Sales team in this industry. I hope to grow within the company and take on a leadership role.

Less desirable answer:

  1. Wherever you think is best.
  2. I just try to do what's expected of me.
  3. Change is so annoying; I try to avoid it wherever possible.
  4. I don't plan that far ahead.

As you can see, desirable answers are well-thought-through and demonstrate a clear commitment to the company and a great attitude. On the flip side, undesirable answers are brief and disengaged, and they don't reflect brand values.

How Xactly Supports Employee Performance Reviews

Xactly Incent seamlessly supports initiatives leading up to performance reviews. It empowers leaders to design and implement results-driven compensation plans, sets the stage for growth, and provides a data-led, comprehensive view of individual and team performance.

  • Compensation
  • Incentive Compensation
  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
  • Sales Performance Management
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