TLDR: The industries you sell to are changing all the time—are your methods of managing Sales performance keeping up? Learn how to help your Sales leaders win business and incentivize the team.

Sales is a numbers game: The main objective of a Sales function is creating revenue. And it’s easy for sales leaders and Sales Operations to quantify and break down into quarterly performance targets. From this, Sales teams are heavily measured against “tried and true” activity metrics that, in theory, generate revenue—calls made, emails sent, demos scheduled.

Adapting to shifting landscapes: But meeting these benchmarks doesn’t guarantee results. Many industries are evolving continuously, where the issues that people care about and their preferred spaces and methods of communication are in flux. As a result, leaders need to be on top of the internal and external dynamics of their spaces—what’s happening in the field and with the team—because the “proven” performance metrics and engaging conversations of the day could expire in a month.

What’s in this article for you? In this Tough Talks Made Easy, we’ll help you have conversations to rejuvenate your Sales function. You’ll learn how to:

➡️ Encourage your Sales leaders to think laterally about performance management

➡️ Go beyond stagnant metrics and make space to build industry awareness, boost team morale

➡️ Make meaningful customer connections


Adapting to the space

Gone are the days of sales being purely transactional.

Consumers today are:

  • wise to the sales cycle
  • plugged into online communities and emerging trends in their industries, and
  • have high expectations not only of the products and services that vendors offer but of the relationships they can build with potential business partners.

For sales leaders, this means it isn’t productive to fill out the days of your reps by having them place dozens of calls and send hundreds of emails each week at the expense of more strategic work.

“Tried and true” sales practices are the bare minimum to captivate new business and are sometimes insufficient.

👉 Instead, encourage your sales leaders to think creatively about the practices that generate impact.

👉 Allocate time for the team to get in touch with communities, understand the challenges of potential clients, and get up to speed with the zeitgeist and direction of your marketplace.

👉 Examine how people in the space get their information, the outreach methods you’re using, and how your Sales team positions themselves to solve people’s problems and address their needs.


“Encourage your sales team to meet people in the market.”


Encourage your sales team to meet people in the market. By doing this, their outreach is more in tune with the issues prospects care about, and the better grasp leadership will have of the measures of performance management that are actually relevant and effective.


Talking to the team

Sales professionals are motivated by compensation and rewards, and incentive structures are a delicate aspect of performance management.

Talented salespeople leave companies when leaders change their commission structure without first consulting with them or explaining the rationale behind changes that impact how they earn.

When leaders don’t promote dialogue around targets and incentives, it’s easy for Sales to become frustrated.

Encourage leadership to talk to people in the team and get their perspectives.

👉 Are our incentives working for you?

👉 Are the KPIs we’re setting realistic and relevant to the dynamics of our market?

👉 Appealing to people’s interests and showing respect for their expertise will help create performance targets that people are inspired to meet.

In practice, your SDRs are the people most in tune with today’s market dynamics, customer needs, industry standards, and emerging products and services in the space.


“Without SDR insights, leaders will struggle to come up with fresh and relevant strategies.”


Without SDR insights, leaders will struggle to come up with fresh and relevant strategies. Therefore, it’s a priority to create an open and transparent structure for communication, where people at each rung of the ladder roll up into others and have their voices heard and represented at C/Head/VP level.


This includes Sales Operations.

Sales Ops has the data to provide valuable consultation when revenue is stagnant.

Where are conversion rates falling in our lead flow?

Are the metrics we’re using and benchmarks we’ve set the sales team allowing us to get a sophisticated grasp of how we’re doing and why?

Contextualize your current performance by drawing comparisons to the conversion rates and Sales’ tactics used in stronger-performing periods.

What are we doing differently?

What’s different in the space?

Perhaps you’re seeing a significant drop off at the proposal stage, or you’re signing business that you end up losing. Maybe you’re tracking certain metrics that don’t meaningfully convey how your Sales reps contribute to revenue. Whatever the data reveals, your insights help Sales leaders tweak their strategies and approach to managing the team’s performance.


The bottom line

Sales isn’t a “set it and forget it” sort of field, and this also applies to performance management.

✅ Encourage your sales leaders to stay on the pulse of industry dynamics

✅ Invite team perspectives on KPIs and incentives

✅ Celebrate using time creatively, freeing people to make meaningful customer connections and learn about developments in their space.

This approach to business development is far richer than a strict adherence to activity metrics, and it’s likely to get results—a Sales team in high morale, incentivized to hit targets, generating a healthy pipeline.

Get in touch for any guidance you need in Sales Operations.