Sales Rep Reviews: Tips for Providing First Rate Performance Reviews

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By Adam Vortherms

As a Sales Manager or HR Manager charged with providing performance reviews of your sales professionals, your reps are counting on you to conduct a fair, thoughtful, and helpful analysis of their work. From recognizing strengths, to providing constructive criticism, Sales Managers and HR Managers need to know how to conduct sales rep reviews that will leave team members encouraged and inspired to continually improve.

The following best practices should be used by Sales Managers or HR Managers so that your sales pros receive reviews that make them want to keep shooting for the stars.

  • Inform and Educate
    Make sure your sales rep is aware of how their performance will be evaluated. This includes educating them on the specific criteria which is being used to assess their performance.
  • Create an Atmosphere Conducive to Open Communication
    Setting a tone of collaboration, where your sales rep knows that the review isn’t a lecture, but is instead a discussion, will open the lines of communication.  This is particularly beneficial to sales reps who have questions or concerns, but may otherwise be afraid to ask or address them.  By making it known that this review is a two-way discussion, you’re liable to get your reps to open up and share their ideas or ask questions freely.
  • Encourage Self Evaluation
    By urging your sales professionals to honestly examine and evaluate their own performance, your reps have the opportunity to illuminate their strengths and weaknesses as they see them.  This way, a collaborative plan for improvement can be created.
  • Keep It Concise, Direct, Factual and Detail Oriented
    Performance reviews are not a time for generalizations.  Cite specific examples of areas needing improvement, or recognize specific accomplishments, goals achieved, etc.  This will demonstrate your personal attention and dedication to helping them build upon existing strengths, thereby reaching new levels of success.
  • Choose and Document Your Words Carefully
    It is vital that all points discussed in a performance review are documented. It is also crucial that you pay attention to the language you use in documentation, to ensure that the words cannot be misconstrued should an employee file a grievance.
  • Stay Focused on Setting Goals
    The desired outcome of any performance review is to establish new goals for your sales rep.  New benchmarks could be clearly spelled out, so that expectations are understood and agreed upon.  All newly created goals should be documented and discussed thoroughly before the review is finished.

At Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting, we understand how crucial it is to have the very best sales managers and sales reps on your team in order to reach your sales goals. As part of your strategy for attracting and retaining the best sales professional in the business, you’ll need to make sure that you put personal attention into each performance review you provide.

If you’re in need of top sales reps or sales managers to join your team, contact us today. Grapevine Targeted Sales Recruiting helps businesses from diverse industries to maximize sales, through providing premier sales recruitment services.

Adam Vortherms is a recruiting manager at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit , call 952.856.2371 or email

11 Things Leaders Need to Talk About When They Meet With Their Staff


A few years back I wrote an article called Stop Having Status Meetings! 5 Better Things to do Instead.

Status updates squander time that could be spent using your team as a team. At the bottom of that article I mentioned 11 things to do instead of reporting status.

Now, I want to use this article to elaborate on these 11 things.

Discussion to drive the business forward

Getting your team together offers a precious opportunity to focus the team energy on great discussions that will drive the business forward.

Learn what people really think. Have debates. As a leader you need these conversations to make you smarter and to inform which direction you should be taking the team and the business.

Here are 11 ideas of great things you can do with staff meeting time.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are just some ideas to get you thinking about higher value conversations you can have with your team.

1. What are the key outcomes we are on the hook for?

How will we know if we are achieving them?

It’s really worth putting this question of key outcomes out there, and aligning on both the list and what the measures are. You will be surprised how many different opinions will exist if you haven’t had this discussion already.

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The Secret Formula to Making Workplace Incentives Work

businessman drawing chartBy

Whether or not incentive programs are effective has been a long standing question, spanning multiple academic disciplines.

Some point to studies demonstrating the motivational potential of performance incentives, while others point to a “crowding-out” of intrinsic motivation when incentives are present.

Given the data that has amassed on either side of the debate, where do we stand today?

When do incentives become more effective?

Some recent research may help shed light on this question. Using a field experiment to assess the conditions when incentives become more or less effective, several interesting findings emerged.

First, the authors found that the use of monetary incentives alone actually contributed to decreased performance, where the task was simple data entry of sports data in exchange for base plus piece-rate pay. Initially, one might assume that incentives crowd out the intrinsic interest and value that workers may place in a task.

A second set of findings, though, provides some more color to that conclusion. The researchers found that incentives, when combined with motivational language, actually resulted in improved performance, in terms of both quality and quantity of work.

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6 Red Flags that Hiring Managers Can’t Afford to Ignore While Interviewing Sales Reps and Sales Managers

red flagThe interview process provides a one-of-a-kind window into a potential sales rep’s capabilities and personality. To a hiring manager, the interview process can also serve as an opportunity to detect any inconsistencies or mismatches in a potential sales candidate. After all, even when working with a top sales recruiting company, at the end of the day, the decision to hire a sales manager or top sales professional will be up to the hiring manager.

When it comes time to sit down for an interview with a potential employee, hiring managers can’t afford to ignore any of the following six red flags.

  1. A Lack of Timeliness

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes matters of promptness are out of an individual’s control. But, when it comes to tardiness before an interview, it can make all the difference in the world if the candidate who is running late calls ahead to warn of his or her time delay. A candidate that truly thinks ahead would factor in a cushion of time for getting lost, unexpected traffic, and the like, but at the very least a call ahead shows consideration, and respect for your time. Furthermore, if they are late to meet with you, who is to say they won’t be late to meet with potential customers?

  1. Arriving Unprepared

A talented sales candidate should know as much as possible about your company, both from working with a reputable sales recruiting company, and through additional research they have conducted about your company. Since a frequent interview question posed to candidates is, “How much do you know about our company?” A candidate may not know everything there is to know—that’s partly what interviews are for, after all—but showing initiative, and a genuine interest in what you and your company stand for, by conducting their own thorough research is a sign of a candidate’s ability to be proactive. When it comes to sales positions, candidates who are not proactive are not likely to be successful.

  1. The Candidate Has No Questions About the Sales Position

A good hiring manager tries to offer a comprehensive take on what his or her company does, but that doesn’t mean a sales representative or sales manager candidate shouldn’t have their own questions to ask. Top sales reps and managers will almost assuredly have questions they expect you, as the hiring manager to answer. When a candidate poses thoughtful questions during the interview process, it not only indicates their serious interest in the position, and the work your company does, it is also indicative that they have an inquisitive and industrious mind.

  1. Poor Self Presentation and Communication

For many job candidates, interviews can seem like a daunting process, so it’s normal to be nervous. However, this shouldn’t be the case for a potential sales rep or sales manager. After all, if they can’t sell themselves, how can they sell your products or services? A talented sales professional will be dressed sharply, prepared, and enthused about the work your company does. Thus they should have confidence shining through. Sales reps and sales managers should also be able to communicate clearly, calmly, and with confidence in their capabilities, and their ability to succeed in the sales position they are pursuing.

  1. The Candidate Provides No Concrete Details

Take heed to look for concrete examples that clearly and concisely serve as proof of a sales candidate’s experience and successes. If a sales rep led a campaign at his/her previous employment, what were the specific figures? How many people did the sales manager oversee? How much revenue was generated? How many accounts has he/she brought in? A track record of success should be rooted in specific details, not nebulous figures.

  1. The Candidate Failed to Close

Everyone knows that first impressions are important, but the final impression that a sales candidate leaves can be just as telling. This is especially true when it comes to sales reps, as being a successful closer is vital to generating sales for your company. Does the candidate ask for the business cards of all those present for the interview? Does he/she address any concerns or remaining questions that a hiring manager might have? Does the candidate finish with a strong handshake and assurance to follow-up? If a potential sales rep or sales manager can’t close you, they’re not going to close sales for your company either.

Even if a candidate has come highly recommended and vetted by an experienced, reputable sales recruiting company, the hiring manager will ultimately be responsible for deciding on whether or not a potential sales rep or sales manager will help to meet the goals of the company. Keeping an eye out for the above red flags can make a hiring manager’s job far easier, as the strongest sales candidate for the position will stand apart from the pack.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent.  Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based search firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or

Hiring Without a Strategy Will Kill Your Company


Your business is doing well — your customer base is booming, your product’s popularity is soaring, and the world is your oyster … except your company can’t keep up.

If you are in high-growth mode, you’re going to need more people. At the same time, the competition for talent has never been fiercer. That means incredible pressure for companies today to hire as many people as they can, as quickly as they can to lock prospects down before anyone else snaps them up.

Don’t make that mistake. We all know, theoretically, that making a bad hire sets companies back. Simply put, a bad hire (someone who lacks the skills or drive to get the job done, or is not a fit with your culture) won’t move you forward and in fact may move you backwards. But most companies have no idea the impact of a single bad hire has on their business. Believe it or not, data shows that the average cost of a bad hire is up to five times that person’s annual salary!

That’s a pretty sobering statistic, but in the midst of a company growth spurt when the pressure’s on, it’s easy to default to making the first hire instead of the right one. You may think, “So what if we make a few bad hires? — we’ll take care of it later.” The problem with that approach is that bad hires almost never end up having zero impact — they have negative impact instead.

The Real Cost of Bad Hires

Most mangers think that if they hire quickly and fill a role, then they’ve plugged a hole. People think, “Someone’s better than no one, and even if they turn out to be a bad hire we’ll just replace them.”

In reality this plays out as follows:

  • It takes you six months to truly figure out that the person is a bad hire.

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Why Company Culture is Essential for a Successful Business

15 Website ServicesEvery company has it’s own unique culture, made up of the working environment, the special ways that things are done and the people who make up the team. The culture of a company can affect lots of aspects of the business, from talent attraction and the retention of existing staff, to the brand’s reputation among the public and the industry.

The company culture plays a large role in your job satisfaction, as if the work environment doesn’t match your personality and working style you could experience a clash of interests. Therefore, for a business to build a workforce of staff who are motivated to achieve their best and are going to stay with the company long term, it’s important that they hire people based on their culture fit.

This infographic from Washington State University explains just how important company culture is and the impact that it can have on employee happiness and attracting the top talent to the organisation.

A few examples of a really strong company culture

  • Walt Disney Corporation are one of the most widely known brands in the world and they have built a fantastic employer brand by getting their employees involved.  The brand focuses on making dreams come true, so staff are trained to treat all of their guests like royalty.
  • focus on providing exceptional customers service and one of their employees volunteers at Ronald McDonald housing, making balloon animals for kids.

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7 Secrets to Retaining Your Talent in 2016

In the much-touted war for talent, we often forget to look inside our organisations and realise the potential we have — until the moment we get that resignation across our desks. And at that point, it’s far too late. As a talent advisor, what can and should you be doing to make sure that those moments are few and far between?

Here are seven things you can start doing tomorrow that will not only attract the best talent, but will also make sure the best people in your organisation stay happy, motivated and (most importantly) with you.

1. Know your talent.

The first step to talent retention is talent identification. It sounds simple, but it is the area where most organisations fall down. Most talent identification processes merely skim the surface. They’re short term, risk adverse and highly subjective. How can you retain what you cannot see? Identify your future workforce needs and think about your skills shortages: This is about the future as well as the now.

2. Take risks.

When you take someone and place them in a genuine stretch assignment, you not only motivate them — you motivate everyone around them. Take a few risks, appoint people before they’re 100 percent ready, and back yourself to make the right choices. Demonstrate that talent really does progress around here and that success is rewarded quickly.

3. Break pay structures.

Most organisational pay structures reward longevity and external experience. This means if they’re home grown talent, they’re probably being paid under the market rate. If they want to get a big raise, they’ll need to leave. You’re going to have to break some of those internal mechanisms if you really want to retain your top talent. Time to crack open the piggy bank.

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Winning Sales Hiring Game Plan: Reasons to Conduct a “Ride Along” or “Shadow Day” With Potential Sales Rep Candidates

ShadowOnce you (or your trusted sales professional recruiting firm) has waded through resumes, and completed preliminary interviews to identify only the best pool of candidates for your sales position, the proverbial finish line is well within sight. Congratulations!

However, before you completely cross that finish line, it’s worth considering going the “extra mile” to ensure that the candidate you’re prepared to hire is indeed going to be a strong addition to your team. Fortunately, this last leg of the journey isn’t anything close to having to run an extra mile. In fact, it’s more akin to an extra 50-yard dash. But since you’re filling an instrumental role, it’s worth the few extra steps.

In this case, we’re talking about hosting your potential sales representative on a “ride-along” or “shadow day.” In other words, you’ll be giving your potential candidate a hands-on trial run at the position for which he or she is being vetted. Conducting a ride-along or shadow day will give you metaphorical courtside seats, as to how the potential sale rep or sales manager handles day-to-day tasks and interactions, the types of ideas he or she contributes, and how the candidate might fit into the overall environment and workflow of your business.

Of course, a shadow/ride-along day is best conducted after a final interview is complete and you are convinced that the remaining candidate(s) will be the right fit for your sales position. This is particularly true, if you’re recruiting a passive candidate, as they may need to take a few hours off, from their current position.

All the same, in addition to allowing existing team members, sales managers and the potential candidate to have the chance to experience a future day-in-the life of their new sales position, shadow days and ride-along days are useful for several other practical reasons including:

  • Providing an opportunity for an in-the-field sales trial

Providing a ride-along experience for your potential sale rep provides them with the opportunity to spend time in the field with a top producing and/or senior sales rep—allowing the candidate to get a true sense of the day-to-day responsibilities that are required in the position, as well as the types of customers your business serves.

  • Learning how the day-to-day office duties are performed

Inviting a potential sales rep or manager to spend a few hours shadowing the office allows him or her to:

  • See how inside sales are performed
  • Become familiar with other positions within your company and how hierarchy and collaboration is structured
  • Understand daily workflow and processes
  • Become generally familiar, or reacquainted with regularly utilized software
  • Get a feel for incoming and outgoing calls
  • Interact with various potential-coworkers, seeing how he or she fits in among them


  • Assessing a candidate’s contributions and potential

While the candidate gets the opportunity to understand the office’s inner workings; the employer also has the chance to assess the candidate’s interactions, contributions, and overall fit with other employees and within the company. Does the candidate ask thoughtful questions? Does the candidate contribute to a positive and productive professional atmosphere? Does the candidate share insight and ideas? Does the candidate take instruction well?

A shadow-day or ride-along day can be useful not only for employers but also for potential top sales candidates as well. A few hours of shadowing can confirm the potential you see within a candidate or alert you to qualities and characteristics you might not have assessed in the traditional interview setting. Either way, both the employer and the candidate will win, in their own way.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent.  Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based search firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or


10 Tips For Keeping Your Best Employees Happy

andy1By Karlyn Borysenko

Your best employees are the people who drive your organization forward – they are more creative, more productive, and bring more value to your organization.

So, keeping them happy must be a priority, because these are the employees that are typically not replaceable.

Here are 10 tips on how you can do that:

1. Know what motivates them

Your best employees are likely intrinsically motivated. That means they are motivated by their work and their outcomes, and not as much by external rewards like money or extra days off.

Sure, those things are nice, but if you really want to get them excited, give them a great project to work on that is in line with their professional interests and the freedom to make it better than you ever thought it could be.

2. Remove the obstacles

The first job of any great boss is to remove obstacles, but this becomes especially important with your best employees.

Think specifically about any political battles and power struggles they may encounter in achieving their goal. It’s not necessarily that they don’t know how to navigate those obstacles, it’s that they consider it to be an incredible waste of time and energy since power struggles shouldn’t get in the way of doing good work.

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6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Engage Your Employees

andydiversityThanks to an improving labor market, people are feeling more comfortable exploring their job options – which means companies are having to work that much harder to retain top talent and keep them engaged.

As the CEO of a staffing firm, I know there are countless reasons for staffing firms to keep their recruiters engaged and happy, not the least of which is the fact that the recruiting industry has a notoriously high turnover rate. It’s also been found that longer recruiter tenure leads to better relationship development with clients and candidates.

There are extravagant ways to keep employees engaged. Though my advice draws from my own staffing-specific experience, what I’ve found to work for us can really work for any type of business.

Here are six of my tried-and-true tips:

1. Set the tone.

It’s not all about offering free lunches or half days on Fridays. Rather, it’s about the culture and ensuring employees feel valued and respected. If you develop a culture of hard-working, driven people, make sure your recruiters fit that mold. Invest in them early, before they even start contributing. Encourage them to attend conferences and seminars. Show them there’s always room for improvement and more to learn about this business, no matter what level they’re at.

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