Surprise, You Can’t Manage Sales

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Now I know the title of this article may come as a surprise to some of you especially in light of the fact that I’m in the business of helping my clients improve their top and bottom line produced by their sales force.  

I believe that you can’t manage sales.  

But, you can and indeed you must manage the activities that produce sales.  

In today’s extremely competitive selling environment the team that understands and controls their activities is the team that will win, more often than not.  

Activities must be controlled from both a qualitative as well as a quantitative point of view.  Failure to do this will produce a sales organization that creates revenue and profit “surprises” for its management team.  

You see, traditional sales management relies on measuring the dollars produced by the sales force.  This in itself is the flaw in the process.  

If you are measuring dollars, you are indeed measuring a lagging indicator.  

Any conversation that starts with a discussion of the dollars produced last week, last month, or last quarter is a discussion of lagging/historical measurements.  No one can do anything about the dollars produced last week.  

But all of us can do something about the dollars that will be produced next week, next month, next quarter and or next year.  I believe that there is a direct and mathematically measurable correlation between today’s activities and tomorrows dollars.  

Increase the quality and quantity of activities and you will, proportionately, increase the dollars produced by those activities.  

Please note I emphasize quantity and quality of activities.  An activity for activity sake is nothing but busy work, but activities that are executed with precision, predictability and consistency will produce a profitable outcome.  The most important of these metrics, which must be controlled by the number of first meetings completed by the sales team.

I define a first meeting as either a phone meeting and or a face to face meeting with a decision maker or influencer who could move into your sales cycle and be qualified.  

To start your process of activity management, track the relationship between first meetings and the accounts that progress into your sales cycle.  

It will ultimately measure the ratio between first meetings and new orders.  This is the key ratio that you should track and manage to be successful.

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