The Role of Sales Performance Management in Engaging Your Sales Force

There is growing acknowledgement of a strong relationship between employee engagement and business performance.

sales performance management

Studies show companies that treat workforce engagement as an organizational imperative outperform companies that do not, thus employee engagement has become a priority for many organizations. A Gallup study found that organizations with strong employee engagement achieved:

  • 10% higher customer satisfaction ratings
  • 21% higher employee productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

Sales Force Engagement Drives Business Growth

Among employee segments, sales force engagement is particularly important to achieving company goals. Sales force engagement, hence performance, is reflected in key metrics like revenue realization, market share growth, and customer satisfaction. According to Towers Watson , high-performing sales employees are almost twice as likely to be highly engaged as lower-performing sales employees (44% versus 24%).

Show Me the Money? Engaging Sales People Takes More

Despite the commonly held view that sales people are primarily motivated by money, new research proves that the top drivers of sustainable sales professionals engagement are things like leadership, supervision, work-life balance, and other non-financial factors.

Simply increasing compensation will not improve #salesForce engagement over the long term. A focus only on compensation is also not sustainable for most companies, as it inevitably leads to spiraling staff-related costs. Other practices are necessary to drive engagement, such as providing personal growth opportunities, establishing appropriate rewards and recognition programs, enabling collaboration with peers, and effectively communicating individual and business performance.

With the right processes and solutions, these practices can be brought together successfully, as part of an overall sales performance management framework. Such a framework offers a complete, 360-degree view, that can deliver higher sales force engagement.

How Sales Performance Management Increases Sales Force Engagement

Sales Performance Management – not only Sales Compensation Management – takes a holistic, people-oriented approach to sales force engagement. The focus should be on these basic principles:

  1. Establishing incentive programs that are aligned with corporate strategy.
  2. Defining and communicating individual responsibility and goals.
  3. Driving the right behaviors to achieve performance expectations.
  4. Clearly communicating performance, measuring and providing constant and timely feedback.
  5. Providing visibility of performance across the organization, including recognition of individual contribution as well as summarizing information for managers and leaders.
  6. Providing on-going coaching and feedback as a result of performance, to reinforce goals and fine tune behaviors.
  7. Having effective qualitative evaluations, for improved understanding of performance.

Be Prepared to Adapt

While these principles of Sales Performance Management have proven time and again to increase engagement, it’s also important to recognize that things change. The market shifts constantly, your organization and products evolve, and new behavioral approaches are validated by research and gain acceptance as the norm. Organizations must be ready, willing, and able to realign performance goals and sales engagement accordingly.

These are just a few trends impacting employee engagement and performance:

  • Always on – immediate access to performance related information to ensure continuous engagement anywhere, anytime.
  • Gamification – creating real-time, peer-level visibility of performance to motivate and recognize employees for achieving desired results.
  • Innovative coaching tools and techniques – research on the “social enterprise” is transforming performance coaching from a structured, point-in-time exercise into a continuous learning environment.


The link between sales performance and sales force engagement is clear. If you’re successful at engaging sales people, you’ll see performance improve, and vice versa. Using a Sales Performance Management framework as a guide to engagement can help your organization achieve results more quickly than a pure focus on compensation.

Originally published on WorldatWork.

Ken Bjorkelo

Executive Vice President

Ken has over 20 years of consulting, business transformation, and technology enablement experience for diverse clients and industries.

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