Sales performance won’t change if you measure the wrong things. Superfluous measures can distract us from asking the more important question—“What should I measure to know the progress of the sales force on the road to winning?” Below are three measures you might find helpful for tracking your sales team’s progress.
Executive sponsor is a term I use to define a person at the prospect company who can sign the contract, make things happen and convene a team of authority. Without an executive sponsor, your sales team cannot easily navigate the politics and process of organizations nor overcome the inertia of big companies faced with significant choices. An executive sponsor is not just a “favorable prospect.” An executive sponsor must have a problem your company can solve, the urgency and personal accountability to get the problem solved, and a willingness to make the following commitments:
Provide access to other decision makers.
Make the project a priority among decision makers.
Stay in contact with sellers during the selling process.
Provide clarity if communication is unclear or contradictory.
Break logjams if there is a stopping point in the process.
In an articulated sales process that has behavioral measures at each stage, what is most important is not how much activity is occurring at each stage, but how many movements are occurring from one stage to another. Motion tells you about all of the sales activities that occur in getting people together, having conversations, and exchanging information within a given sales stage, but movement measures the completion of one stage of the sales cycle and progression to the next. The more movements, the more progress. The more activity…well, then you just have activity. To encourage movement over motion, consider giving a value of “one” to every movement from one stage to the next in the sales process. By giving each movement a value of one, you are better able to set expectations for your sales force and measure movements throughout the sales cycle.
How long does it take to move from one stage to another? Not every stage takes the same amount of time to move through. However, by articulating the amount of time each stage is expected to take, you can set performance expectations for your sales team that you can then measure for accountability. The more you know about how long it takes prospects to move through each stage, the more sophisticated and accurate your measures of progress will be throughout the sales cycle.
So much of the literature on sales performance is about effort tracking, and in the world of solo selling, transactional tracking and volume of activity were the most valuable measures. However, as complexity increases in the world of sales and the length of sales cycles extends, new metrics need to be used for analyzing performance. So this begs the question, “What is your sales force measuring and what should it be measuring?”
Tom Searcy is CEO & founder of Hunt Big Sales, a sales strategy company that helps CEOs double the size of their company. Searcy is the author of RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business, co-author of Whale Hunting: How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company, and How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett: Lessons from the World’s Greatest Dealmaker, as well as the upcoming book Life After the Death of Sales: How to Thrive in the New Era of Selling. For more information, visit www.thedeathofselling.com.