Taking Sales Goals Beyond Only Revenue
Did you know that apparently, vampires are preoccupied with numbers? According to legend, if you don’t have garlic or a wooden stake on hand, you can fend off vampires by throwing rice at them. Because if you throw rice at a vampire, they won’t be able to resist stopping to count every individual grain. I suppose the assumption is that if nothing else, that will buy you some time to get away.
This fun fact opened up a world of possibilities to me. In a fantastical world, would vampires make good accountants? What else can we learn from them, besides the letter of the day? Truth be told, sales can take a lesson from the plight of rice-covered vampires.
If you get too caught up in numbers, opportunities get away from you.
It's no surprise that sales is a numbers-driven industry, and it would be foolish to disregard the numbers completely. Your sales predictions, goals, and strategies should be data-driven. However, managers must also keep in mind that one cannot measure progress by quota alone.
Metrics are useful, but not by themselves. Measuring sales progress by metrics alone can be discouraging, because when it comes down to it, those numbers are usually not adequate reflections of the entire sales process.
When I worked in a call center for a college, I would check periodically to see how many calls I was making per shift. We were encouraged to make upwards of 40 or 50 calls in a night. I thought looking over my metrics would give me some incentive when things seemed to be slow. Sometimes it did, but more often than not it didn't change how I was doing my job. And I soon realized those numbers weren't reflective of how well I did my job.
Because in a call center, as with many other sales methods, successful calls and conversations are also the most time-consuming. The more interested a prospect is, the more questions they are likely to ask. The sales process takes time, as does moving the prospect forward in the pipeline. So a night of more successful calls for me actually meant that my metrics looked worse. My conversations were more promising and I was more productive, but my metrics didn’t always correlate with that.
Measuring progress, scoring leads, and meeting quotas are all important components of the sales process. That’s just it: all that number crunching is only a small fraction of sales strategy, and getting too obsessed with facts and figures will drive you just as crazy as a vampire hit with a pound of rice.
Progress Beyond Revenue
So, how do we measure sales progress and meet our goals without getting bogged down by lines on a graph?
Sales Management Group principal Peter Helmer encourages managers to look to sales activities rather than sales revenue. He explains that “revenue is a what, you want to know why.” And the why when it comes to sales output is the sales input: sales activities. Essentially, this entails the tasks that comprise the bulk of the sales pipeline, like meetings, calls, and documentation.
Thus, the key to tracking sales goals without hyper-focusing on revenue lies in tracking those sales activities. Activity tracking is easier than ever with a variety of technological resources, including software like Prodoscore. In fact, Prodoscore even takes sales activity data and generates a score based on which activities lead to revenue, just in case you still need the reassurance of numbers.
What You Learn Along the Way
Tracking activities may also seem too number-oriented for some. If that’s the case, then don’t worry, because there’s still more to freeing yourself from the shame of number-comparisons.
Activity tracking is a component of a larger strategy that is necessary for qualitatively measuring progress: sales coaching. A lot of sales managers check coaching off of their to-do list when all they’ve really done is hold quarterly progress meetings focusing on numbers, numbers, and more numbers. This is not only an improper reflection of progress but an incredibly ineffective coaching strategy.
If you’re paying attention to reps’ activity levels, then coaching comes easy. Coaching can be customized to the strengths and weaknesses of your team so that the sales process becomes less focused on numbers and more on cultivating excellent salespeople along the way.
For example, instead of just asking a rep to make more calls, you can help them reorganize their daily activities to help them be more productive.
Don’t Let Success Get Away
Sales strategy based on revenue alone is like counting grains of rice. It wastes your time while opportunities prematurely expire in the pipeline. Take a holistic approach to measuring progress by focusing on not just sales results, but sales activity levels. If you only encourage your reps to have quick wins, they’re going to let the deals that seem harder pass them by. Or, they’ll fight over the best leads.
Utilize what you learn from your activity levels to build a coaching strategy that builds a successful team, regardless of the revenue stream. Soon enough, your revenue stream will benefit, too.