Throughout my sales career, I haven’t always found it easy to know where I stand. We always had targets, but since they’re usually monthly or quarterly, they’re not necessarily the best way to make sure my career as a whole is on track. I like to know I’m improving and performing well, without needing external verification. It’s possible, but relies on you setting goals for yourself and attaining a degree of introspection. Let me show you how to evaluate yourself, and how to increase your success as a salesperson.
Please note: This is not an article on how to do an official self-evaluation, though following my advice here can certainly help you with that.
The way to start a realistic, ongoing self-evaluation is to set clear goals for yourself. I recommend looking at the SMART methodology to do this, though there are countless others. The important thing is to set goals, and then to check back on them.
Whoever you work for will already have a set of goals for you to reach: your monthly or quarterly (or indeed yearly) targets. These will already give you a fair idea of how you’re doing, but they can be broken down further. I found it useful to break down the monthly targets into weekly ones, so I could always tell where I was on a Friday afternoon. You may even wish to go more granular, and set daily targets.
The company’s targets are just one set of goals, however. If you’ve read my previous articles, you know that I espouse measuring yourself to a different set of criteria as well. Of those, I some useful areas you could focus on are:
- Conversation style
- Gatekeeper management
- Closing ability
- Conversational awareness
If you’re thinking: “But Chris, these aren’t specific goals!” then you’re entirely correct. These are merely areas for you to think about, in the order in which I think they should be assigned importance.
In conversational style, for example, you can set yourself to goal to avoid using filler words or noises like “emm” and “uh.” This seems like a minor thing to be doing, but it makes a huge difference in your conversations, leading to more confidence in your tone. It will also lead to a higher level of awareness of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it, giving you more control over your use of language.
Be honest with yourself.
If you’re striving towards self-evaluation, I should assume this one’s a given. However, insecurity can lead to a negative self-image, and that can taint your perception of your work. Thus, being honest with yourself in this context means taking the aspects you need to improve on as well as the positive ones.
A good tip here is to put the goal you want to evaluate at the head of a sheet of paper, and then draw a line down the middle. Put your positives on the left, and your areas to improve on the right. For each area which you need to improve, make sure to include a positive point. This will encourage you to think more deeply about your work, and will help you assess yourself in a more balanced way.
Developing this level of introspection is not easy, but it pays off in the long run. You will be able to better judge how you’re doing without having to measure yourself against others. You’ll also be able to correct your present activities if you notice any anomalies, and to catch any missteps on the way to your self-improvement goals.
Get feedback & advice.
While you’re meandering along this path, setting your goals and generally becoming aware of how you’re doing, it’s a good idea to seek feedback from others. In sales, this should be relatively straightforward; there are many experienced salespeople out there, and your manager probably is one. Also look to your more experienced colleagues and friends, both in- and outside the company.
When asking for this kind of feedback, it’s a very good idea to define a set of areas you’d like feedback on. If asked how you’re doing, your manager is likely to reply based on your numbers. If they’ve spent coaching time with you, perhaps they’ll include that as well. Rather than this general info, make sure you’re specific about your feedback needs. This allows you to guide the conversation and gives you a true milestone with regard to your achievements.
Talk to your mentor.
Mentors aren’t only great at showing you the ropes and helping you improve; they can also give you valuable advice and feedback. Mentors are usually experienced, and have a very good idea of which areas you need to be working on. They can also help you improve your skills by assigning you tasks, exercises, or goals. When creating your goals, it’s a good idea to run them by your mentor. If they have any other areas, make sure to include them.
When asking for feedback from your mentor, it’s a good idea to define the areas as I mentioned above. This will let them give you actionable advice with a high degree of specificity, rather than more generalized advice. Furthermore, you’ll help them by broaching topics they may feel it impolite to mention.
Plan for improvement, measure & execute.
Once these steps are complete, you’ll have a very good idea of where you are and where you need to go. You’ll have your goals set, a means of measuring each one, and a time component. I’d recommend taking half a day each month to see how you measure up your metrics – both your targets and your personal goals. You may want to keep these on file somewhere so you can track your improvement over time.
The important thing to remember is: if you’re looking to evaluate yourself, you’re already on the right path. Now you just need to execute, and you’ll be fine.
I hope this has been useful to you, and, as ever, I wish you all the best!
Do you agree with what I wrote here? Disagree? Did I miss something? Could I have done something better? Please let me know in the comments!