Annual performance reviews can be a stressful experience for both the manager and the employee. However, they are also a useful business process that can help the organization to increase productivity, improve employee engagement and meet revenue targets. When working on a performance appraisal for a salesperson, be sure to take into account more than just the sales numbers. It’s important to consider factors such as internal sales processes and external market factors when reviewing the employee’s performance.

Keep the Feedback Loop Open

An effective salesperson performance review should not contain any surprises. Ensure that all parties involved are aware of progress and performance throughout the course of the year by keeping the feedback loop open. Conduct an informal salesperson performance review on a regular basis, such as during a monthly one-on-one meeting.

Take this time to review the previous month’s progress with the employee. Be sure to ask them how they felt their performance was and whether they were up against any barriers that limited their success. Provide suggestions that help the employee to overcome those obstacles during the next month.

Ask for a Self-Evaluation for the Sales Representative

Prior to sitting down with the sales representative for their formal performance review, ask them to fill out a self-evaluation. This should include their views on how they performed during the past year, their strengths and weaknesses and how they contributed to the company. In the self-evaluation, give the employee the chance to speak to their performance against specific sales quotas they were required to reach.

Review the Goals and Results

During the performance review with the sales representative, start by speaking to the self-evaluation. Discuss any points of note with the employee about how they viewed their performance. Look to the goals and sales quotas that were set at the beginning of the term and compare them to the actual results for this year. Have an honest but cordial discussion on why and how you think the sales representative achieved these results.

Be sure to consider any internal and external factors that lead to the results, especially those outlined in the self-evaluation. For example, if the sales representative felt that they couldn’t achieve their quota because of a product issue that customers wanted fixed, that could have led to a decline in sales. If the sales representative brought that issue to light repeatedly and the company didn’t act on it, then this may be a discussion point with the product development group.

Discuss Barriers to Success

Ask the sales representative if they feel there were any barriers that limited their success during this fiscal year. These could be aspects such as a skill set that they need to improve or additional training they require to be better at their job. It could also be a technology or a process that could be implemented to make their job more effective. Where possible, see if you’re able to remove the barriers so the employee can better complete their tasks.

Develop a Plan for the Next Year

End your performance review by creating a plan for the next period. Outline professional goals and sales quotas that the employee will be required to meet. If the employee is in a position to move up within the company, specify the next steps they can take to advance their career trajectory. Be sure to include this information in their sales performance appraisal so they can come back to it the following year to see if they met their objectives.

Don’t Forget to Provide Positive Feedback

At every step of the sales review format, it’s important to include positive feedback. While it’s critical to pinpoint weaknesses so they can be improved upon, it’s also necessary to specify the employee’s strengths so they know what they should continue to keep doing. Start and end on a positive note to lift employee spirits and help them feel more at ease during what can be a stressful meeting.