By Mike Voories, CSP
What gets measured gets managed. It’s an age-old cliché in sales and business, but allow me to resurrect it once more to make this point. Because so many agree with this simple concept it could almost be considered common sense. But common sense isn’t always common practice. Why then do so few sales professionals consistently measure their sales activities?
Those who fail to consistently measure their sales activities typically fall into one of two groups:
- Those who aren’t required to. These are owners who don’t report to anyone, and employees under leaders who don’t require it.
- Those who simply believe it is unnecessary or don’t see it as a means to improve their results.
In either scenario, I guarantee that substantial money is being left on the table. When I talk about tracking sales activity I don’t mean tracking how many sales are made, how many dollars are sold or a sales professional’s closing ratio. I mean tracking what we can actually control. In reality, we don’t have any control over whether a prospect hires you. We do, however, have complete control over the daily actions we take - that’s where the magic happens.
Track what you can control
Sales isn’t something we do. Sales are a result. They’re a positive result of the actions we take, day in and day out, whether it’s cold calls, client calls, meetings, networking events or requests for referrals and introductions. Completely tracking and measuring controllable action items should be the groundwork for a sales team’s or professional’s key performance indicators (KPIs).
Most people do OK measuring how many sales are made and how many dollars are sold. What we should be measuring are the actions that we can adjust according to the goals and objectives we’re pursuing. We have complete control over how many calls we make, how many networking events we attend, how many in-person meetings we have and how many referrals we seek. Furthermore, we can adjust how many of each of these action items we commit to completing each day or week to align with our objectives and sales goals.
Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. It’s simple, and that’s precisely why it works every time. How do you know what to do more of, and what to do less of if you’re not accurately and consistently tracking and measuring your activities? You don’t. You can’t. Randomness is a sin in sales. Specificity is the alternative and the correct answer.
A sales professional who tracks and measures their activities and then uses that data wisely to make necessary adjustments to their plan will always outproduce those who don’t. There’s no correct or incorrect way to collect data; what’s important is that it is accurately and consistently collected in real time. There’s no shortage of ways to easily track sales activities. Many of today’s CRMs have mobile solutions, enabling sales professionals to work on the go. Some prefer using a simple spreadsheet or a form. For others, a pen and paper work fine. What’s important is that you find what works for you, and do it. Stick to it - consistency is key.
Set your goals
Once committed to tracking our activities, we need to set goals that align with our desired end result. For every sales professional, the objectives are different. Even within the same organization, one sales professional might yield one opportunity for every 10 calls made, while their colleague needs to make 25 calls to yield one opportunity. Similarly, given our strengths, weaknesses and other variables, one sales professional might yield great results from networking events while their colleague selling the exact same service might not. If there was a one-size-fits-all approach, none of this would be necessary, but there isn’t.
A KPI scorecard (example shown below) can be used to examine how our actions translate into results. These numbers are fictitious and are used to illustrate how a simple weekly scorecard can be used to measure sales KPIs. The numbers in green are the metrics over which we have total and complete control. The numbers in yellow are the metrics over which we have some control. The numbers in red are the metrics over which we have no control.
Tracking goals and measuring results should be a best practice in sales. In the example below, metrics in green are those items the sales professional can control; those in yellow are those they can somewhat control; and those in red are those they cannot control.
Too often, sales professionals and their leaders focus on the number of sales and dollars sold, when we would do much better to focus on the action items that we can control. These items drive the number of sales made and dollars sold. Focusing on the finish line without a clue of how to get there does little good. Focusing on controllable action items, tracking them religiously, measuring and adjusting as necessary, is a simple-to-follow formula for ultimate success in sales. Commit to tracking and measuring your sales activities. What gets measured gets managed!
Mike Voories, CSP, is chief operating officer at Brilar, a commercial landscape and snow maintenance firm with locations across the Midwest. He also is a consultant to the service industries. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.