In a recent seminar about “Building a Sales Management Function” that I was honored to facilitate, we talked about what metrics matter to an organization that wants to be forward thinking and use leading indicators instead of the traditional “Postmortem” metrics that most companies use. Looking backwards is fine if you are alright with using your rear view mirror to drive forwards, but companies that are focused on sales growth should be using a different set of Metrics. These seven metrics are both useful for production and for a sales management function to identify coaching opportunities for better sales performance.
These seven sales metrics are key to effective sales management for organizations focused on growth:
1. #of Face-to-face meetings with “new qualified targets” (not prospects or leads) regarding new opportunities
2. # of two-way phone or email conversations with “new qualified targets” regarding new opportunities
3. # of Face-to face meetings with existing clients regarding new opportunities
4. # of two-way phone or email conversations with existing clients regarding new opportunities
5. Amount of new opportunities added to their sales funnel
6. The # of actions that moved existing opportunities through their sales funnel
7. The amount of new business that closed from their sales funnel
These seven sales metrics will help identify how effective a sales rep is at both finding new business (volume) and moving business through the sales funnel (velocity). These seven sales metrics will also provide your sales management function with the information and business intelligence they need to coach your sales rep for better performance once you bench-mark them.
What questions would you ask as a sales manager to coach your sales reps once you have bench-marked these sales metrics?
1. How can we increase the average value of the new opportunities you find in new clients and existing clients?
2. How could we decrease the length of sale from 6 months to four months?
3. How can we increase the amount of opportunities in existing clients?
4. What else do you need to help add volume to your sales funnel?
5. What are the objections you are getting from clients and how are you navigating them?
6. What do you need to do differently next week to get better results?
7. How can I help?
You cannot manage want you do not measure and what you measure gets done, so what are you measuring and what else do you need to start measuring? A good sales management function will help their sales reps put money in their pockets so everyone is happy. I guarantee your sales reps want to know the measuring stick and know that someone wants to help them.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help identifying what sales metrics makes sense for you to measure for growing sales and how you can start using them to improve your sales performance.
Having worked with these sales tools in my own business and helping my clients integrate these sales tools into their own habits, I sometimes take it for granted that everyone knows about them. These should not just be tribal knowledge and I hope these help you in your own selling efforts to the markets you are targeting.
Jigsaw is a user-generated database that is continually updated by its members. It gives you the name, title, postal and email addresses and direct-dial phone numbers for individual contacts you can’t find directly. This allows you to find the direct contact information for decisions makers you are targeting without going through the gatekeeper and wondering if you message is even being received.
InfoUSA is a sales tool available with just a library card through your library system. Not only is this tool useful for finding information on your target customers, but it also give you a list of management names, their competitors, and their SIC and NAICS codes to be able to download searches for even more target customers that may not appear on other search tools.
MyBrainShark is a website that allows you create a voice-enriched multimedia presentation or podcast. It also makes it easier for you to record your PowerPoint presentation for online display purposes. This allows the market to view and hear your message and learn from your expertise 24/7.
FirefoxSuperSearch is like the the”Swiss Army Knife” of search engines. It allows users to perform web searches, people searches, reverse lookups, public records searches, due diligence and background research, using over 160 of the internet’s best search engines. This allows you to learn a lot about your prospects and customers before you engage with them.
Google Analytics generates detailed statistics about the visitors to your website. It can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents or other downloads. This will help you identify how your website is connecting with in your market and help you identify what content you need to change.
Xobni is a free add-on to Microsoft Outlook that turns it from an email system into a powerful sales tool. It creates another window in outlook that displays a profile of whoever sent you the currently highlighted email by grabbing that person’s photo and telephone number from LinkedIn, Facebook, or several other social networking sites. It also shows a string of communications that you’ve had with that person. If you use outlook, this is the easiest way to start “social selling” using all of the social media tools.
Hoovers is a database of companies and other organizations, which includes top level data on financials, strategies, competitors, key executives, market dynamics, and so forth. It’s built on a database of information on more than 30 million corporations and organizations, and more than 35 million people. This is a great place to learn about a customer or a competitor, without having to dig through the SEC reports.
Zoho CRM is a Customer Relationship Management tool that has all the features you’d expect in a world-class CRM product, including marketing campaigns, lead management, sales pipeline, forecasts, etc. This will allow you to keep track of all of your opportunities and activities in one location and you can even have up to 3 people on the same system before you have to pay for it. I have 3 clients using this currently as their first CRM tool and it works great for a sales management function.
Demandbase Stream is a nice little sales tool that works like a news ticker displaying information across the desktop about which businesses are visiting your Web site, along with their interests, and contact details for the most appropriate decision makers to contact for follow up. You can also flag existing customers, prospects, partners, and competitors, so that you’re aware when they’re doing something on your website. This helps you act fast when someone is interested in what you have to offer.
Super Pages has proven useful for search for companies that are typically hard to find because they do not “fit” into a specific market segment. You are able to search for companies in specific geographic areas using key words of the service they may offer.
LinkedIn continues to be a valuable sales tool for business development as more and more companies are joining and senior leadership begins to adopt it as a tool themselves. Although they have removed some of the features since going public like Events and Answers, you can generate plenty of activity with a target audience by posting useful information to help your network or take part in discussions within the groups you belong to. Make sure you join 50 groups that are relevant to your expertise, industry, and interests to get the most reach. Chances are, if I do not know something, my network or fellow group members do and I get an answer very quickly.
Evernote is a great way to keep your projects and to-do list organized. You can access it through both a desktop and your mobile device to add activities and make new notes when you think about them so you do not forget about them
Xmind is a mind mapping tool that helps you visualize strategic plans, build organizational charts, develop fish bone diagrams for processes, and even can be used to map a potential website site map. This is a great tool for those of us who are more visual learners.
Please feel free to contact me if you need any help with these or just want my library card number.
During my spare time while traveling for a project with a major Midwest manufacturer, I decided to summarize a take away I had from reading “The Four Disciplines of Execution”.1 The book is very relevant for any of us who have started major initiatives in our organizations only to watch them be stifled by competing priorities or as I call it, “the tyranny of the urgent”. These are daily need-to-do activities and organizational fire fighting that makes us wonder what we actually accomplished and did all day.
After an organization determines a relevant business goal they want to achieve and target date for completion, they traditionally measure their progress through what the book calls “Lagging Indicators”. These lagging Indicators are reflective of the goals that we traditionally set quarterly or annually such as:
- Increase sales from $500K to $625K by 2015.
- Increase the number of dealers from 10 to 15 by 2013.
- Reduce cost of sales by 10% by Q3.
- Increase average selling price per transaction by 5% by March
- Increase our market share by 10% by 2014.
Sound familiar? If achieved, any of these are all good indicators of success, but when does and organization traditionally look at the results? Most of them only look at their progress a few days before the target completion date. This can produce only one of two possible results: a sense of jubilation and desire to celebrate, or a instantaneous increase in your pucker factor that now has you worrying about your year, your career, and the future of your organization. Using these lagging indicators to measure success at the end of a target date is about as useful as looking in your vehicles rear view mirror to navigate in a forward direction.
What if you could measure your progress along the entire way toward your target date?
What if you were able to change your game plan at half time instead of the two-minute warning? What if everyone in the company knew could measure results on a weekly basis?
What do you have to start measuring to be able to do that?
The book introduces the development and use of “Leading Indicators”. Leading indicators measure the achievement of specific activities and activity levels that are necessary for you to achieve your goal. These can be as simple as:
- Meet with 10 new qualified targets per week.
- Present to 4 qualified prospects per week.
- Up sell 10 clients per week.
- Mail 100 new information packets to targets per month..
- Complete 3 field assessments per month.
- Participate in 2 trade shows per quarter
All of these leading indicators can be reverse engineered from looking at your past successes and determining what activities helped you get there. For example, if your goal (lag indicator) is to sell $100K of materials in 10 months to new clients, your average client is worth $10K, 50% of the prospects let you send them a quote, and you closing ratio is 10%, then you will have to talk to 200 prospects and propose to 100 of them to reach your goals. Breaking down these activities into leading indicators determines that you need to talk to 20 new prospects and propose to 10 of them every month or even talk to five prospects a week and propose to 2.5 of them on average. Your goal of $100K in new revenue in 10 months does not seem all that hard to achieve know what you have to do each week in the midst of the tyranny of the urgent.
The last words of advice from the book are to develop and maintain a public score card that helps everyone in the organization understand how they are meeting their leading indicators and progressing towards their goals on a weekly/monthly basis. Read here to understand the benefits of keeping score properly to drive accountability in your organization or contact SalesTechnik should you like help developing relevant leading indicators to help you achieve your goals.
1. The Four Disciplines of Execution: McChesney, Covey, and Huling, Free Press 2012
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You just started a new sales person after your last sales person walked out the door only after 6 months. You ordered new business cards, set up an email address, put together some sales figures, printed a customer list, and gave them a stack of brochures. They should be set to go, right? This is the most common scenario for any company that has a high turnover in their sales teams. In fact, it was the way I was on-boarded as several companies earlier in my career.
Most companies do not have the proper systems and processes in place for on-boarding new sales people and without them, the sales person is set up for failure from the beginning. What does it take to set the new sales person up for success? I call it the 4-P’s and it is everything that should be given to a new sales person to hit the streets faster and produce an ROI for your company.
Position: How thorough is the job description? Have all of the expectations been communicated? Are their support people in place? Have goals been set? Does the sales person understand what their role is in the achievement of those goals? Without a clear understanding of the sales position, the opportunity for misunderstanding of role and expectations can lead to frustration and lack of results.
Products: Has the new sales person been trained on your product or service and fully understand the value it can deliver to your customers? Do they know the pricing? Do they know your entire portfolio? Do you have technical expertise that can support the sales person? Are your marketing materials current? The failure to properly train and even cross train your new sales person will destroy your credibility with customers.
People: Who are the people that you want to deliver your product and service to? Do you know what an ideal customer looks like? Do your marketing materials speak to your target market? Do you know your competition? Do you know your differentiators? Do you know how your customers buy? The failure to understand your market will not develop a clear marketing and selling plan to follow.
Processes: What metrics do you have in place to measure success? Is your CRM in place and the use of it mandated? Can you document your customer buying process and what roles are responsible for the various stages and touch points? Do you have support people for order entry, shipping, billing, and servicing so your sales person can stay in front of customers and new opportunities? The failure to have proper support in place for customers will make your sales person get involved with non-selling activities and you will only get 20% of the selling effort you need.
To get a faster ROI out of your sales person, you need to take away any potential for misunderstanding, not knowing expectations, ruining you credibility, and not being able to measure success. For help developing your 4-P’s, please contact us at SalesTechnik
How many times have you wanted your sales teams to just make more calls thinking that is the best way to increasing sales? Organizations that fail to deliver real-time intelligence to their sales team fail to maximize their efforts and hence get hung up on “making more calls” as the solution.
While most sales managers and owners love reports that measure their sales team’s activities in order to forecast sales, they may be missing opportunities by not focusing on reports that provide necessary information that would allow them to create a better strategy to begin with. Their current strategies and tactics are based upon dated information that could be months old and hence are often useless to make a difference quickly.
So if what gets measured gets managed, what information should you be measuring and delivering real-time to your sales team to be more agile in the field to increase sales?
- Sales of customers by demographic segments
- Profitability of customers by demographic segments
- Sources of new leads by demographic segments
- Dollars in each stage of the funnel
- Conversion rates for each stage of the funnel
- Average value of each opportunity in each stage of the funnel
- Achievement % to budgeted sales and profitability
- Market share % and industry trends
- Distribution by product line and products by demographic segments
- Customer attrition rates
- Customer satisfaction rates
- Production forecasts
- Delivery and project completion progress
Now more than ever, sales managers need to provide their teams with more timely insight and detailed sales analytics that can deliver a competitive advantage to their sales team, allow better forecasting by the sales manager, and increase sales for the company much faster than they would be able to if they were only tracking activities.
“You are the CEO of your territory so you should act like one.” I was told this all the time during my years of selling and leading sales teams in various industries. I have since passed this advice on to every sales person and sales team that I have worked with since I started my practice.
More than any other position in the company, sales has a tremendous amount of autonomy and like a CEO, this freedom gives the sales people an infinite amount of latitude in how they are going to achieve their goals. Sales performance is based on success like that of a CEO and therefore the best sales people should approach sales like they are a CEO.
What should sales people and CEO’s have in common?
They leverage others to help – they don’t try to do it all themselves. Great sales people know how to leverage the entire organization. Good and average sales people try to do it all themselves.
They show leadership – without leadership it’s impossible to gain the support of the organization, to build support teams, to rally the client, and get those teams you need behind you.
They have problem solving skills – problem solving is one of the greatest, unmeasured skills today. Great CEO’s solve problems. Great sales people solve problems for their company and their clients. They have an uncanny knack for understanding how to get around hurdles, address challenges and accomplish what others can not.
They have Business Acumen- It goes without saying that CEO’s have great business acumen and unfortunately, most sales people do not. Sales people should embrace business knowledge and grow their understanding of complex and simple business concepts.
They take Risks – by definition, CEO’s take measured, calculated risks. They understand that nothing is guaranteed and growth comes from expansion. Selling is no different and the best sales people take risks. They understand the next big sale does not come from doing what everyone else is doing.
They have a Vision – Like CEO’s the best sales people have a vision and they see the forest through the trees. They can see where the industry is going and see where their clients “need” to go. They know when a product is going to loose its edge 12 months in advance and use that to their advantage.
They are committed to personal development – CEO’s become CEO’s because they are constantly striving to get better, embrace personal development, and are always growing their skills. The best sales people are constantly evaluating their skills and should always strive to get better. They know what they are great at and what they need to get better at. They leverage their strengths and surround themselves with those who are great at what they are not.
I am a huge fan sales people and during my 25 plus years of sales leadership, I have watched sales people that have these traits succeed farther than myself and I have watched sales people fail because they were unable to change the way they conducted themselves in business and embrace these ideas. If you can embrace and integrate the characteristics of a CEO, then you can be great in sales.
Salespeople spend most of their time on non-revenue producing activities. Really?
A recent study found that salespeople spend more than 70% of their time doing things other than selling. Our research found that salespeople spend, at most, 30% of their time in face-to-face selling. The rest of the time is spent handling administrative tasks, making collections calls, resolving logistics issues, attending meetings, and filling out reports.
How can we call these folks “salespeople” anymore when less than half of their time is spent selling? Maybe we should call them “support account administrators who occasionally sell.” Who is at fault–salespeople or management? Finger pointing does not really accomplish much other than scapegoating the blame.
It confounds me when salespeople tell me that they cannot make more face-to-face calls. Why not? Do buyers perceive little value in the meeting? Do managers require salespeople to yield to administrative distractions? Is traffic that bad?
I grew up in a sales culture where we were required to make eight face-to-face sales calls per day. If we were in the office between 8 AM and 5 PM, our bosses assumed we were goofing off, and we probably were. Sales managers scrutinized our phone credit card statements to make sure we did not spend the day doing phone work versus face-to-face selling. We did paperwork at night or on Saturday morning. If it sounds a bit Draconian, it was not. We were salespeople after all, not office people. I learned a work ethic that helped me start and run a successful business, and I am eternally grateful for the lesson. Maybe it is time for some old-school selling rules again.
There will always be a place for cold calling in any sales strategy and knowing how to do it is a critical differentiator in all market segments. For many sales people, cold calling can be the best and most effective way to build a pipeline but only through determination and polite persistence.
To be a good cold caller it’s key to understand the environment. Cold calling is interruptive and not permissive. Therefore from the second the call is placed, the people on the other end of the line have their defenses up and are NOT receptive until you give them a reason to let you in.
Because cold calling is interruptive and not permissive it requires 4 things to be executed flawlessly:
1. You have to know who you are calling – have a list.
Before you pick up the phone and start making calls, you have to know who you are calling and why. Let’s call this pre-qualifying. Pre-qualifying means creating a key customer profile that outlines the traits of a company that is the best possible fit for what you are selling. Build a list of pre-qualified companies to work from and make it as long as possible before you start calling. Don’t do research while you call, it slows down the process and makes it difficult to get into a rhythm. A calling list is the most valuable asset a cold caller can have and spending the time upfront building it will make all the difference.
2. Know what you are going to say
You have less than 10 seconds to capture someone’s attention. If you don’t know what you’re going to say, you’ll look sound like a rookie. I’m not a big fan of “scripts” and actually I consider them constricting, impersonal, and don’t always align with the flow of the call and what the person on the other line wants to hear. I prefer improvisation and agility. This doesn’t mean wing it, it means you have a set of key messages you know you must get out, but how you communicate them and when is driven by the person on the other end of the line.
Create a set of key messages you think are critical to your customer and to make sure they impact the key business elements of my target customers. I don’t talk about my services, but rather how my services can positively affect their business in the next 30-60-90 days.
3. Set Goals
Set daily cold call goals since the hardest part of cold calling can be just making the calls. Setting goals you know based on past success will ensure you can make your numbers. Know how many new calls you need to make in a day and know how many return calls you will make. New calls are calls made to someone on the list you’ve never called before. Return calls are someone on the list you didn’t get a hold of the last time you called them.
Overtime, as you call more often, your call back list is going to be as equally as big as your new call list and the most important thing to remember is to not quit until you reach someone. Make the call, leave a message, set a reminder to call them back, but never quit calling.
4. Don’t stop until they say “NO!”
This is where determination and stamina come into play. Do not stop calling until you get a no. Without a no, you don’t know why they aren’t calling you back. My rational is this; if they’re not interested, they’ll let you know because they may be too busy to do otherwise. For every prospect that will tell you to stop calling, I bet that you will have five that will thank your for your persistence and were glad you kept on them as they wanted to talk but were so busy they never got around to calling you back. – Don’t stop until they tell you to stop.
Cold calling is not dead. It maybe warping, but, regardless of what it’s doing or not doing, doing it right matters and will have an impact on your income.
One of the most dangerous mistakes a salesperson can make is to go without activity because it will cause major problems in producing results later. As much as a salesperson may want to resist activity goals and metrics, they are necessary, and as much as the sales manager may not want to measure or enforce activity goals, it is necessary that you do so even when the numbers are being made.
The great game of sales is not very different than an athlete maintaining peak performance with the right activity (training). Without the right sales activity (prospecting) for even relatively short periods of time in sales, your pipeline starts to look a little light. Without face-to-face meetings, your deals start to stall and your pipeline looks even weaker. Eventually, your numbers will not be sufficient for the company to consider you a value to the organization, your commissions will sufferr, and a change will have to be made.
Maintaining momentum requires that you keep some standard of activity level, just like an athlete. Your activity goals and metrics are an indication of your future sales results. Your activity metrics are a snapshot of your fitness level as a salesperson and without them it easy to underperform and miss your numbers.
Build a “Model” Week for Momentum
The best way to maintain momentum is to create a “model” week with specific activity goals with prospecting calls and prospect meetings. Every week is not going to look exactly like the “model” week, and some are going to look very different based on the demands of the business you are in. One week of poor activity isn’t likely to make or break your quarterly or annual sales results, so it’s better to look at the averages since some weeks are naturally going to be more productive than others. Activities like prospecting calls and first sales meetings are good metrics and it is important to review your results and make changes to your activity levels as necessary.
Selling is one of those endeavors where it is very difficult to make up for lost time. You can train in the off season and perform during the season. You can also train like crazy in the season but you are guaranteed to produce nothing but a sense of frustration and panic. Activity goals and metrics are what keep you deliberately training for the season and in sales, the season never ends.
If your company is a typical company, you have a series of sales people that you expect to operate autonomously and efficiently in the best interest of the company to help increase revenues. Is that the best practice to move you forward in the future?
Have your sales increases kept up with the market increases? Are you bringing as much new money to the bottom line as you are to the top? Are you retaining all the new clients that are closing? Do all of the other departments know who your clients are?
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then congratulations, you do not need to have a learning session about where you want to be three years from now. However, if you did not answer yes, then there is a great opportunity before you.
In today’s economy, companies have to sell smarter as well as make sure that they are 110% successful in executing delivery and customer service in the manner that the customer expects. By making sure companies have the right people in the right positions with the right procedures, companies can sell their extra capacity and position themselves for further growth.