article | November 8, 2013
Measuring Sales Execution To Deliver The Number
Many organizations run into this phenomenon with their sales leadership. The managers get on the line and report their commits for the month. They explain why they will make or miss the month’s number.
Excuses for missing the commit are fairly standard. The big deal slipped a few weeks. The competitor undercut us at the last minute. The account went dark. Optimism about making it up next week is through the roof. After a few painful minutes, you move on to the next manager. As a Sales Operations leader, it’s understandable that these calls drive you crazy. Not only are you not hitting the number, but you’re not even sure why. But what is the solution? How can the managers, and your, time be better spent?
The Weekly Sales Operations Checklist will help you structure these meetings. It focuses the team’s energy on tasks that can be most easily managed. In addition, these near-term tasks will lead to long-term growth. Sales meetings will go from reporting to tactical planning.
The Checklist is broken into two areas where managers should focus. They are outlined in James Jordan’s “Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance.” The following examples illustrate how the Checklist has helped teams execute their sales strategy.
A telecom organization had 300 sales reps in the field. According to the pipeline, there were enough opportunities of sufficient size to retire quota. Every week, however, the commit was missed by 15-30%. Sales management set out to understand why the number was consistently low. They interviewed customers to find out how they could improve. A common theme emerged around call frequency. The competitor was stopping by the office twice a week. They were periodically shooting over information that was helping them solve their problems.
Management decided to track sales interactions per opportunity. They found the sales process they licensed was not working with customers. Opportunities in the early stages needed to be nurtured with more frequent contact. Instead of moving to close on the second call, more discovery interactions were necessary. Managers began checking in weekly with their reps on number of customer interactions. By changing daily activity of reps, they were able to close more deals. These deals helped the team make up their shortfall within 2 months.
Activities, if not managed effectively, can turn into wasted effort. Outcomes are the output of daily activities, and measure the quality of your effort. An IT sales team set the bar high for the year. They had a hungry team of reps and thought 30% growth was achievable. No one doubted the activity level of the individual reps was high. But still, the growth target was slipping away heading into Q3.
The team decided to focus on outcomes of those daily tasks. Were the 8 prospect calls per week leading to quality opportunities? They began tracking average opportunity size. What they found was a high volume of low margin opportunities. Cycles were being wasted on transactional deals that produced limited results. Weekly opportunity assessments were implemented. Reps stopped going after low hanging fruit and focused on the big fish. While maintaining activity levels, revenue quickly spiked. Focusing on outcomes allowed the team to identify their key obstacles.
When managers focus solely on top line or bottom line numbers, they lose. These metrics are lagging indicators. You don’t know you’ve missed the number until it’s gone. For weekly meetings, focus on the leading indicators. Track the activities and outcomes that will determine whether you will hit your goals. Have meaningful discussions around what can be changed tomorrow to improve productivity. Positive change comes from managing the little things that will have the big impact.