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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Do You Know Your Leading Indicators?


Last week was an exceptionally brutal soccer game for my girls. They played a team that preferred to play with aggression verses skill. There were many times the referee should have intervened with his whistle but chose not to. The opposing team got away with foul after foul, so guess what happened? 

The opposing team became more aggressive as the game went on, and by the end of the game, we had two girls with slashes on their arms that resembled a small animal attack and another girl with a snapped collar bone. All predictable outcomes based on the opposing team’s behaviors. With many sports, as you watch behaviors, you can start to anticipate the expected outcome, and this is also how it plays out in sales. 

I see many sales leaders track performance… and they should. The most common performance metric looked at is percent-to-goal. What I also see is when goals are missed and sales come up short, managers push forward and work harder to fill a gap and hit a new goal by asking salespeople to do more. The problem with this solution is managers don’t take into account the leading indicators, or selling behaviors, known to lead to hitting goal. Sometimes this is because, with all of the sales enablement tools available, we are in a fast-paced sales environment, but sometimes it’s because we haven’t taken the time to learn what leading indicators should be. 

To determine what your leading indicators should be, start with tracking activity and relate it to performance. Make your weekly updates with your sales team less about where they are at with select customers and more about how they got there. You’ll begin to see a correlation between number of approaches, meetings, presentations and asks which can then help you predict who will get to goal well before the goal is missed.

Having this hindsight makes hitting goal more predictable. Just like on a soccer field, watching your team’s behaviors will help you determine the outcome of their performance.

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Topics: sales performance