Profitable Sales Growth in Six Steps — Step 4: Benchmark Success

Torsten Bernewitz and Kelly Tousi

Have you ever tried to give someone directions without using a map? 

It can be done, but it’s frequently a less precise and effective way to help someone find his or her way.

Sales managers can use benchmarks outlined in a competency model as a kind of map when coaching salespeople and evaluating their performance. Yet experts at global sales and marketing consulting firm ZS Associates confirm that many sales managers are winging it. This represents lost opportunities.

“There’s significant potential in developing the skills of salespeople,” says Torsten Bernewitz, a Principal at ZS Associates. “But without clearly defined benchmarks of the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that lead to success, it can be difficult to point reps in the direction of success.”

Kelly Tousi says that the most successful sales organizations start by establishing a clear view of the competencies that make reps successful. They then codify these in a competency model that sets clear expectations for each role. “A competency model is a must for successful sales-talent management,” she says.

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About the Experts


Torsten Bernewitz is a Principal based in Princeton, N.J., and the leader of ZS’s Sales Force Effectiveness practice area. During his tenure at ZS, he has also served as Managing Principal for ZS’s operations in Europe and as Office Managing Principal of the Paris and Frankfurt offices. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies as well as leading pharmaceutical companies in the United States, Europe, South America, and the Far East on optimizing sales processes and managing organizational change. Torsten holds an M.Sc. in economics and economic geography from Hanover University and an M.B.A. from INSEAD.

Kelly Tousi is a Principal at ZS Associates and is based in the firm’s Evanston office. Kelly is a leader in ZS’s Medical Products and Services area. She is also a sales effectiveness practices leader, and has worked with numerous medical products companies on the use of key performance indicators to diagnose and improve sales productivity