The Difference Between Performance Reviews and Sales Coaching

Every time I ask a V.P. of Sales/CSO  or even a sales manager if they have coaching methodology in place, I always get a similar answer; “Yes, we do them once or twice a year.” I then ask, are those your “performance reviews” and of course, the answer is yes.

Let me help everyone out — doing performance reviews is NOT coaching.

Performance reviews are exactly that, they are “reviews” designed to review performance. They are designed to evaluate if someone has achieved their goals and objectives. Their purpose is to evaluate how someone has done over a particular period of time. Did they meet the goals? Did they deliver on the objectives? Did they operate in the appropriate fashion, etc?  Performance reviews look back over 6 months or a year and tell the sales person if they’re doing a good job or not. It’s that simple.

Coaching  however isn’t a review of performance, but rather an evaluation of approaches, methodologies, execution and behavior. Coaching sessions are designed to evaluate in game effort and execution. Coaching isn’t designed to say whether or not your performing well or not, but rather to determine where your mechanics could use improvement, regardless of how well you are performing.

Try this analogy on. Tom Brady goes 22 for 27 in completions, throws three touchdowns and no interceptions. A review of his performance will tell you he performed brilliantly. 20 for 27 is an 81% completion percentage. Three touchdowns and no interceptions is a great day. From a “performance” perspective, he did great. From a coaching perspective however, the door is swung open much wider. The coaching will look at how he read the defense, his throwing mechanics, his pocket presence, his audible decisions, and more. The purpose of coaching is to see where Tom can improve, REGARDLESS of how well he did in the game or even that season. Coaching is a subset or the engine of performance. Coaching is designed to enhance performance not evaluate it.

Here is the fun part, the majority of sales people WANT more coaching or better coaching. Coaching isn’t like a new CRM or more meetings, it’s actually something sales people want. 57% of sales people say they want more coaching and 60% say they want better coaching. Your teams want coaching, they want direction, they want to be better. As their manager, leader it’s your job to give it to them.

Stop looking at performance reviews as coaching, they aren’t. Build a coaching approach that allows you to coach each direct report on an an ongoing basis. I like to do it every 6 weeks.  Build a coaching framework that outlines exactly what you’ll be coaching them on. Hint: it should align with the outcomes and behaviors necessary to do the job well. Coaching Brady on how well he can block, break a tackle or catch a ball is wasted effort.

Once you have embedded an ongoing coaching methodology into your organization, performance reviews instantly become a cake walk. Coaching sessions act as the foundation to performance reviews. They allow you and your direct report to understand their strengths and weaknesses and how they are affecting performance as you go, not just once or twice a year.

Do you have a coaching methodology AND a performance review process? You should!

Become a coach. Spend 60% to 70% of your time coaching and developing your people. It’s where the win is, I promise.

If you need a structure, you can download my team engagement cadence below, it’s what I use and what I share with my clients.