Uncover Root Causes of Performance Gaps with a Simple Diagnostic Model

As much as we’d all wish otherwise, there are many things about B2B selling, sales coaching, sales management, and the practice of organizational performance improvement that are complex and difficult.

So, when you come across something that helps to:

  • simplify how you diagnose seller performance
  • accurately pinpoint a root-cause issue
  • and identify a workable solution to improve results…

…it makes it even more intriguing and compelling. ROAM is one such model.

What is the ROAM Model?

ROAM is an acronym for Results vs. Objectives, Activities + Methodology. It’s a diagnostic model that helps you uncover the root causes of performance gaps, so you can identify what you need to do, to close them.

Let’s define terms, to start, and then put it all together.

Results

Results are the measurable outcomes a rep has produced. The results may be lagging indicators. In this case, the results would include the number of sales, the associated revenue, the profit margin, or whatever KPIs matter most for what is being measured.

While they are not “final” results, you may certainly also have results for leading indicators or activity goals, such as the actual number of calls made in a week or the process stage conversion ratios for the month.

In the world of forecasting, there are forecasted and actual numbers. The results are the “actual” performance.

sales coaching ROAM diagnostic model for performance gaps

Objectives

The objectives are your sales rep’s goals, quotas, or performance benchmarks, which are the expected outcome and performance level.

Objectives can include the goal for the end results, as mentioned above (the number of sales, the associated revenue, the profit margin, etc.), or the leading indicators (activity goals). These objectives for activities or leading indicators would include metrics such as the number of prospecting calls made in a week or an expected conversion ratio between stages.

In terms of forecasted and actual numbers, the objectives are the “forecasted” performance.

Activities

Activities are the things your sellers do, or the tasks that they perform, to produce their results.

Consider:

  • What: What are the activities your sellers are doing and the tasks that they perform? Are they the right activities and tasks?
  • With Whom: Are they doing these things with the right target ICP (ideal customer profile, meaning the right prospects, buyers, or customers)?
  • How Much: Are they doing the right amount of each activity?
  • When/Where: If applicable, when or where are the activities performed?

If your sales reps are doing the right activities with the right people, in the right amounts, and at the right times or locations, and still aren’t getting the desired results, you must next examine the methodology they’re using.

Methodology

How & How Well: Sales methodology is how your reps are selling and how well they are doing the sales activities required to reach their goals. This is the quality measure of the activities being performed. The methodology encompasses all buyer- or customer-facing selling tasks, and may include:

  • Sales competencies and behaviors
  • Frameworks, models, and skill sets
  • Sales messaging and conversations

Putting ROAM Together

Once you’re clear on the definitions, ROAM is very simple to use.

Results vs. Objectives

You start with R and O. Compare the Results to the Objectives to see how well your rep is doing on their key metrics. Determine if there’s a gap between the current results and the objectives the rep needs to achieve. Use metrics to discover what the gap is, where it is, and how big it is. This is where your sales reporting and sales analytics come into play.

As discussed above, review both leading and lagging indicators as a starting point for where to coach for improvement.

Gaps between the Results achieved versus the Objectives set is an indication of an area that you can focus on to help your seller improve their performance.

  • Leading Indicators: The measures of an activity that forecast a result. (Example: number of meetings set).
  • Lagging Indicators: The outcomes or the final results. (Example: number of opportunities closed and won).

When you see gaps between the Results achieved versus the Objectives set, this is an indication of an area that you can focus on to help your seller improve their performance.

Whether you should focus on a specific area, though, depends on the size of the gap, the impact of closing it, the number of other gaps, and how you prioritize closing them, based on the possible lift. Usually this is a simple math exercise. Sometimes, there are many gaps; other times, few or one. You may see gaps in leading indicator goals for activities or in lagging indicator goals for results.

Using ROAM for Continuous Improvement

In some cases, there won’t be “gaps” at all. Your rep may be meeting or exceeding their activity and outcome objectives. In this case, you can compare your rep to the very top performers, to identify the difference between your rep’s acceptable performance and the next level of performance that you and they would like to achieve. Now you’ve moved from fixing issues to evolving to higher levels of performance. Both are awesome because continuous improvement is the goal.

In this way, ROAM can help with new or low performers, middle-tier performers, the top 20 percent, and even your elite, top 1-4 percent performers. We sometimes tend to spend more time on low performers, so remember that the biggest organizational lift usually comes from “moving the middle” up a notch, since there are the most players in that bracket. It’s also true that a one-percent improvement from a top four-percent performer can produce more lift than a 10-percent improvement from a middle rep. Keep this in mind and spread your efforts accordingly.

Everyone deserves an opportunity for training, coaching, and development. It’s also okay to spend more time where you believe you will get the greatest returns. Just don’t completely ignore individuals or entire buckets of performers to do it. If people aren’t open to coaching, that’s an entirely different situation, and should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.

- Thomas Jefferson / Aristotle

Activities + Methodology

Once you pick where to focus, check the activities (the A of ROAM) first. Look at what your sales rep does and the other things under the Activities section above, compared to the best practices they should be using. This is an opportunity to determine how to best support your rep. You analyze the area of the shortfall by inspecting the activities that delivered those results.

This should include discussion with your rep but should also involve observation. The observation may come in the form of listening to call recordings, watching video-conference meeting recordings, and/or doing live field observation.

There is often a surprising gap between what people say they are doing, or how well they are doing it, and reality. Yes, some people will purposefully try to obscure the facts, but I haven’t found that to be common. This knowing-doing gap or inability to accurately describe what really happened occurs for a variety of reasons, very few of which are ill-intended. It is what makes observation so powerful because it cuts through all of the cognitive biases, rose-colored filters, memory issues, Dunning-Kruger Effect, and other gaps, and it gets to the reality of the situation faster than any other method.

Sometimes, you can fix the performance problem or achieve higher performance simply by addressing and tweaking the activities. In other cases, after addressing activities you may still not see a lift in performance and need to shift to a focus on the methodology (the M of ROAM). If the activities are already in place and being done as you’d expect, you may need to move to methodology right away. A discussion will be helpful, but as with the activities, you’ll get the most out of observing your rep in action – either through recordings or live.

The application may vary by situation and context, but in all cases, you move through R, O, A, and M (unless the performance improves after A, and even then, spending at least some time on the M might move the needle even further).

Next Steps

The root-cause diagnosis and comparison of Results vs. Objectives and Activities + Methodology will provide insight into what needs to improve (what behaviors and the content that will close the gaps).

After using the ROAM model, you must determine the type of intervention that will produce the best result, such as training, coaching, and feedback.

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