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The Sales Scorecard – Rate Yourself as a Salesperson


I love ratings.  Somehow a simple rating can cut through hours of dribble and get right to the heart of the matter.  When I talk to new clients I ask them to give me a picture of their sales team.  I hear stories of Tim being a people person and Bob being a relationship builder and everything in between.  After a few minutes of dialog, I cut to the chase.  I press for a one-to-ten rating.  And after a few moments of thought, we start getting someplace – fast.


One problem facing American Educators is grade inflation.  Can everybody be above average?  The same thing holds true with sales people.  Can everybody be an 8 or 9 on the scale?  Different sales manager from the same company will pair me up with two salespeople both of whom are supposed to be 8’s.  And, after a day of calls I see tons of difference.  Not difference in styles but differences in skills.  Maybe I’m missing something but I feel a uniform scale could be valuable in knowing the stars from the guys needing work.


I believe there are six basic skill sets that every salesperson needs to have.  And a metric can only drive improvement.  Further metrics provide excellent opportunities for coaching.  Take the test, rate yourself, and rate your co-workers.  That which is measured improves.  Improve.


Skill One Planning

I place planning as the number one skill for salespeople.  No matter how talented - without planning you will never reach your peak performance level.  I have been on joint sales calls where the salesperson had not planned.  He had no demo, no literature, and no real purpose for the call.  He had to rifle through the trunk to find something to talk to the customer about.  Another time, I arrived at a distributor location for a day of calls.  I arrived early.  And as I sat in the conference room returning a few calls, I could hear the sales person frantically calling some of his accounts.  My surprise was he was trying to find an audience for the morning’s calls.  Our appointment had been set weeks ahead.  He had over a month to plan out the day – yet nothing had been scheduled.

Here is our scale:

1 – You plan is dropping by a few accounts tomorrow to see who is available.

5 – Multiple appointments set for the rest of the week

7 – Your calendar is filled with appointments for you as well as appointments you have set for others on your team (Specialists, Management, important suppliers).

10 – You have a multi-step strategy with time milestones set for all of your key accounts and products.


Skill Two Process

A factor in business success is process.  McDonald’s has a process for cooking fries.  They carefully define their procedure; they measure against the procedure and constantly look for ways to improve.  Arguably, it isn’t the quality of their food that keeps people coming back, it is consistency.  They like many businesses realize that people value consistency.  A process keeps you consistent.  And, a process guides your improvement.

A process for those of us in sales can be everything from how consistently do we return phone calls, how well do we capture customer information, and how well do we hand off information to our inside sales team.

Here is our scale on process:

1 – You always have a notebook with you when you go out on a call.

3 – You capture all incoming phone messages and return the calls within a consistent time frame.  This includes continuing to call back until you have made contact with the person calling.

5 – You measure the number of sales calls you make each week.

7 – You measure the value of active quotations, new quotes and other important information.

10 – Other members of your team know exactly how you will provide them information in order to better serve your customers


Skill Three Targeting

New research indicates that world class targeters are 47% more effective in reaching their financial goals than others.  Unfortunately, this thought is lost on many in distributor-land.  In sales meeting after sales meeting, strategy is discussed and “targets” proposed but no precise company wide process for targeting exists.  During down turns in economy those with well thought out targeting processes will prevail.

Let’s establish touch points:

1 – There is little difference between a target and key account.  Typically you use the same three or four large accounts as your target for every product.

5 – You have applied some segmentation to your targeting process.  You have targets broken down based on account size and account type (OEM, User, and Contractor).

10 – Targeting is a science.  You have long term targets identified for strategic programs or processes and short term targets identified to kick-start the sale of new products.  Those around you understand your process and have a common vocabulary (ex. product level target, salesperson level target).


Skill Four Technology

Sales technology means different things to different people.  I want to be clear.  By sales technology; I don’t mean expensive ‘CRM’ systems and upper level software.  Instead, let’s focus in on a salespersons own personal technology.  Cheap, affordable technology breakthroughs have literally revolutionized our lives.  Yet many salespeople have somehow missed the point and not incorporated them into their daily routine. 

1 - Have a cell phone and email but have not developed any basic skills.  To be without a cell phone in 2007 says, “I don’t want to be part of the world around me!”

3 – If you have a cell phone with all key customers’s phone numbers stored in memory and you regularly confirm appointments prior to driving 20-30 minutes to visit a customer.  You regularly review and return emails within 24 hours.  You have some internet skills.

5 – Your email is set up with distribution lists created.  You can send an individual email to a group of customers or support people with a single email message.  Any new contact is immediately and routinely added to your email list.  Internet skills are developed for using basic Google (Yahoo or other) searches.

7 – Customer events and information data is gathered and stored for later use.  Without a great deal of effort you can look up a customer’s address and a contact’s home address.  Internet skills have advanced to the point where searches can determine information on customers and suppliers, maps to most locations, and the archives of important trade publications.

10 – Email is segmented into groups and broken down into categories.  When you introduce a new product, you can easily forward information to a defined subset of your customers.  You routinely share technical information with customers via internet and email.  Your cell phone has a camera and you use it to capture images of customer problems for later reference. 


Skill Five Customer Value &  Measurement

Salespeople talk about service and value.  Check out the sales courses, “Value-Added Sales”, “Selling Value”, “Value Forward Selling”, and the 30-some others.  All talk focus on providing a valuable service to your customer.  In conversation after conversation I have asked sales people these three questions:

  • Who is your most important customer?
  • What did you do to add value for them last week?
  • What did you do to add value for them during the week of January 23rd, 2005?

The answers to the first two questions are always spontaneous and quick.  It’s the third question that separates the good from great.  Rate yourself based on this scale.

1 - Sometimes provide “value-add” service with the products you sell.  When making sales calls you often present the feature without thinking about the benefit to the customer.

3 – Regularly provide service “value-add” service to your accounts.  It sounds corny, but features and benefits is a regular part of your selling vocabulary.

5 – Provide “value-add” service and sometimes use examples of this service when making sales presentations.  Often the benefit you describe has nothing to do with a product. 

7 – You provide service, and can convert your service into dollars and cents.  You will present the dollar savings to key customer contacts.  Before talking about a product, you attempt to think about the payback to your customer.

10- The gold standard in selling.  You make it a habit to record the dollarized value of your “value-adds” to customers at all levels.   On a quarterly basis you present your customer with information that confirms and reinforces a measurement of the service you provide.


Skill Six Product Knowledge

Unfortunately most distributor “sales” training is really “product” training.  I have many clients who have salespeople who are graduate engineers.  Yet, these guys often don’t understand true product knowledge.  As you go through the metrics of grading yourself, think about the interweaving between product knowledge and the other basic skills.

1 – Recognize the descriptions of major product lines.

3 – Have a limited functional understanding of where the product can be used by the customer.

5 – Understand function and application of your entire product line.  You understand the relationship between products and sometimes use this knowledge in your sales process.

7 – You can translate the different features of products into function and application and then into measured benefit to your customer.

10- You carefully study the relationship between product types to help look opportunities to help your customers and increase your own status at the account.


 Now what do I do with the score?

Grade yourself for each of these key skill sets.  Metrics are a part of process.  The old saw goes, “That which is measured is improved.”  The very act of walking through this article and objectively looking at skill sets begins the journey to improvement. 


So, what should my score be?  Send me an email with your score and I will share the average number of others to date.



Sales Skill

My personal score









Customer Value &  Measurement


Product Knowledge


Total Score


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