HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

The Sales Metrics You Should Be Focusing On

There is no shortage of sales metrics out there, but which ones are worth your time and attention? Sales guru Tom Searcy explains which metrics will actually help you make money.
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I recently had a chance to speak with Jason Jordan, Co-Author of "Cracking the Sales Management Code," and Partner of Vantage Point Performance. Anyone interested in the state of sales metrics and making real money through better sales leadership would benefit from Jason's research.

As part of a a study conducted by Vantage Point and the Sales Education Foundation, his research identified 306 different metrics that were considered critical by sales leadership. The analysis broke these metrics into three categories: Sales Activities, Sales Objectives, and Business Results.

  • Sales Activities--These represent the 17 percent of the metrics that have the greatest degree of manageability by sales leaders. They include time spent coaching representatives, number of calls and appointments made, as well as call plan completion.
  • Sales Objectives--These are the things that are less in the control of the sales management and sales personnel and more directly in the control of the prospect. New customer acquisition, customer retention, and product mix are examples of these metrics.
  • Business Results--These are the final outcomes of the revenue generation process including the financial measures of revenue growth, profit margin, and customer satisfaction.

The Ah-Ha Discoveries...

1)   Most of what is measured is outside of management's ability to control. The research indicates that 83 percent of what is being tracked by our CRM and sales systems is just reporting, not influencing in nature.

2)   Management is about influencing outcomes. Metrics are often about tracking progress and outcomes. If we want to use our sales metrics more effectively, the effort needs to be on those things that are within our control--Sales Activities.

In our conversation, we lamented the imbalance in available support for developing sales managers when compared to the wealth of training for sales people. I asked Jason what he thought the most impactful things that a sales manager should spend time with sales people in order to get better results. Here's what he said:

"If you could only spend time with each sales person on one activity to increase that person's performance it would be selection. Sales people need assistance in discerning the best opportunities on which to spend their time. This takes the experience and objective review of a sales manager in order to keep sales people from being overly optimistic about the wrong opportunities or chasing the next bright shiny object of potential.

If there were only one area of effort, it would be in coaching sales representatives. This is most important in the early stages of the sales process for each of the accounts that has been rigorously vetted."

The challenges I would offer to the reader:

1)   What are you tracking as sales metrics? If you can focus your time predominately on those sales activity metrics over which your sales people have the greatest amount of influence, then your time is forward focused, not reporting based.

2)   How do your sales people see your management efforts? If they see your efforts as focused on helping them to choose their targets and manage their time, then you are working in a high-yield way.

3)   What do your reports really tell you? The research indicates that 5 out of 6 of the metrics look towards history, not influence.

You can find out more about Jason Jordan's research at http://bit.ly/VDyPaG .

Last updated: Oct 31, 2013

TOM SEARCY | Columnist | Founder, Hunt Big Sales

Author, speaker, and consultant Tom Searcy is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy's weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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