Some managers think of sales as an easy performance measure. It’s binary–either you made your objective or you didn’t—but, when you over-simplify sales performance this way, you create a couple of problems:
- It is an “after-the-fact” metric. You only know if you have hit your goal at the end of the business cycle, when it is too late to do anything about it.
- It doesn’t allow you to train talented staff who could succeed, if they just had more support or coaching. The “hire/fire” culture in many sales organizations means that you rarely see the full return on the investment you make in sales resources. When you routinely start over with new staff, you most likely are not realizing the full potential of your sales efforts.
A few weeks ago, I stressed the importance of managing at the top of your sales process, or “conveyor belt.”I also believe reporting systems that track progress throughout the sales process are the best way to measure your team’s performance and establish accountability. Not only do they objectively quantify performance early in the sales cycle, these reports can be tailored to address specific areas in which you’d like the team to improve.
Simply put, when you use the right metrics in the right way, you’ll create the motivation and accountability that your team needs to succeed.
Here are ten tips for effective reporting and accountability:
- Look for lost opportunities. In addition to measuring your effectiveness and conversion rates relative to industry benchmarks, losses may reveal breakdowns in your sales process. As you review the statistics, consider whether your sales team is giving up too easily.
- Watch new leads and the speed with which your sales team responds to them. Metrics help you determine pacing, the rate that successful sales move through the process.
- Check the volume levels at each stage of the sales funnel and use the conversion metrics you’ve defined to forecast overall and individual results.Compare the forecast to where you/they should be at that point in time.
- Monitor activity levels. The cardinal sin in sales is to “not talk to anyone.” The sales strategy defined the type and level of activity necessary to ensure success. Make sure that your sales staff are meeting or exceeding those activity levels.
- Discuss pertinent reports with your sales staff frequently. The adage–“what you pay attention to is what your sales staff pays attention to”–is true. If your industry has a very short sales cycle, you may want to review these reports every morning, but industries with longer sales cycles may review the metrics less frequently. The relative volatility of your industry will dictate how frequently a report needs to be generated. For example, if your sales team works with summer/seasonal products, daily reports might be needed for the summer season, but weekly reports may be sufficient in the winter. In any case, I recommend that you review the reports with your sales team every week, at the least.
- Reports are only as good as your follow-through. Even the most data-laden reports won’t hold people accountable if they aren’tinterpreted, discussed, and acted on in meaningful ways.
- Remember that reports should be used to motivate and inspire, not to embarrass or punish your staff. Before jumping to conclusions, ask yourself: Do they really understand our business and how their daily activities relate to outcomes? Are there challenges or problems that need to be solved? Is lack of training, support, or materials affecting their performance?
- If you find that a staff member is underperforming or“sandbagging,” use the report to address the situation in objective ways that do not demotivate other team members. It is essential for your team to see that everyone is expected to perform, but that they will be most productive if they work from a pointof optimism instead of fear.
- Use your CRM. Sales productivity is directly correlated to the percentage of time that sales people spend selling. The goal is for salespeople to generate reports without spending vast amounts of time creating them. When a CRM is configured properly, a salesperson will only need a few minutes to update their data and the software system will generate the reports automatically.
- Customize your reports. Use your CRM’s features to capture information in formats that are relevant for your team, your company, and the industry at large. It pays to learn how to use your CRM well.
For many sales leaders, reporting is an after-thought, but it is essential to managing your staff effectively and maximizing your investment in sales strategies, enablers, and resources. Diligent, accurate reporting, reviewing, and interpretation can make or break your sales strategy.
If you need assistance with sales reporting, implementing a CRM effectively, or using reports to establish accountability and motivation, call us. We’ll help you create a reporting process that works for you!
What tips can you share to increase accountability?