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Holistic Sales Performance Management

by Dave Egloff  |  September 11, 2019  |  1 Comment

Sales performance management can be simply defined as an ongoing engagement where seller activities and results are assessed and improved.

Sales leaders typically leverage sales performance data to inform compensation planning, job advancement, and training needs.  Sellers look to performance management to provide evidence of being aligned to key priorities and to help identify development opportunities.  Moreover, sellers look for reinforcement through achieving rewards and recognition.

What is holistic sales performance management?

 Holistic sales performance management is a deliberate and unified approach that broadens the concept to span enablement, coaching, compensation, and recognition.  The keys to success include:

  • Strategic alignment between role design and performance management
  • Consistency across skill-builders and motivators
  • Comprehensive coverage across key activities and outcomes

Sales performance is driven by a combination of improving skill and motivating will.  In other words, sales performance management should use a combination of skill-builders and motivators to drive behaviors and achieve results.

While enablement sharpens seller skills, compensation and recognition motivate sellers down a specific path.  As you’ll notice below, coaching helps to do both – build skills and motivate actions.  Coaching is an extremely powerful and influential mechanism for driving performance.  It’s even more effective when it occurs in concert with the other strategies.

Illustrative Sales Performance Management Coverage for Account Managers


This graphic is a basic illustration of how sales performance strategies can be mapped to specific priorities for an account manager sales role.  Remember, sales roles – including their enablement strategies and compensation plan designs – are unique. Therefore, the priorities inventory and performance management mapping should also be distinct by role.

Mapping out the sales performance management coverage is a valuable exercise as it:

  1. Helps sales leader focus the sales role – Too often, sales roles are scoped too broadly and even competent sellers struggle.
  2. Promotes a unified view to ensure all key priorities are being supported, rewarded and recognized – Priority activities and outcomes that lack sales performance coverage may eventually deteriorate.

Education and Accountability

To improve holistic sales performance management, sales leaders should educate both sales managers and sellers – everyone should be clear on their role and the goals of the process.  Furthermore, both managers and sellers should be aware of the sales performance management:

  • Approach
  • Goals
  • Inputs
  • Outputs

Once sales leaders do a level set of expectations, they can take the next key step of holding people accountable.

  • Sellers must be proactively engaged in the sales performance management approach. Often, the more they put in, the more they’ll get out.
  • Sales managers need to be actively coaching. Additionally, they need to continually be assessing needs and recognizing accomplishments.

Remember, sales managers may need coaching on how to coach.  While some managers may be comfortable using sales dashboards and metrics, others might solely rely on observations.  The best managers use a combined approach that leverages both quantitative analyses with qualitative assessments.  These same managers are also keenly aware of where their coaching needs to supplement enablement and compensation strategies.

Holistic sales performance management is an important investment in sellers and sales outcomes.  While it might be a shared burden – across leaders, managers, and sellers – the success is equally shared.

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Category: sales-operations  sales-performance  sales-strategy-and-design  

Dave Egloff
Senior Director
1 years at Gartner
20 years IT Industry

Dave Egloff is a Senior Director, Analyst in the Gartner for Sales Leaders practice. His current work focuses on key initiatives in sales strategy, sales operations and sales compensation. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Holistic Sales Performance Management

  1. Neil Caddell says:

    Dave I very much agree with a lot of the points you have outlined. Especially with talking about dashboards and metrics. It is not always the story and if your seller knows what is being asked of them and how this can grow their commission then you have better alignment. If you show them what success is they are more likely to emulate that.

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