Helping sellers improve sales performance is an important—perhaps the most important—part of a sales manager’s job.
A key part of the process of improving performance is evaluating a seller’s performance. Tracking and evaluating important metrics will serve as a source of celebration as well as a way to add focus for future training and skill development.
Please note, this type of review and evaluation should not be confused with the typical annual review required by HR departments. HR reviews serve some purpose, but rarely serve as the catalyst for improving sales performance.
Difference Between Performance Tracking and Leading Indicators
It’s important to track the performance for each individual salesperson and the leading indicators you know lead to performance of your team. You may have a fairly long list of each, yet we recommend that you determine your top 3-4 that you will focus on in both areas.
Here are some simple definitions of each to help get your head around the concepts:
- Performance Tracking: The most important metrics or measures of performance you track for each Account Executive.
- Leading Indicators: The activities you know lead to performance that you will hold the team accountable to following.
As the sales manager you make the decision on the metrics. Here some options related to each:
- Percent to Goal
- This Year vs. Last Year
- Target to key conversions
- Key account growth
- New Business—for example, the number of new leads provided from inbound marketing, the number of first-time meetings with prospects, proposals presented to target accounts and closing ratio
- All Business—things like total number of appointments, number of quality calls, number of proposals presented and number of closed proposals
Performance metrics and leading indicators vary by sales organization. If these are already determined for your organization, great! If not, perhaps a brainstorming session with key members of your organization will help.
RELATED POST >>> Predict the Success of Your Sales Team with Leading Indicators
Additional Tips to Accelerate Sales Performance
- Focus on, and evaluate, the things tied to important outcomes and avoid the desire to track too many metrics and indicators.
- Be sure to communicate these metrics to your sellers on an ongoing basis.
- Don’t be a slacker—update your metrics and leading indicators on an ongoing basis.
- Determine how often you will meet with sellers to evaluate their metrics and provide coaching.
- Tie your training plan to the metrics you are tracking. For example, if target to key account conversion is an important metric, you should provide training related to:
- Include sales initiatives on your sales calendar to drive revenue—like a Target Drive to jump start target to key conversions.
Leading Indicators and Performance Tracking
You’ve heard the old saying, “What gets measured gets managed.” But today’s sales technologies enable many managers to try to measure everything. As a consequence, they don’t have a clear sense of what is really driving sales in their business, while salespeople, who are inundated with dozens of metrics, get lost in the day-to-day noise. The result is poor management of what matters (HBR).
Leading indicators offer real-time feedback on whether salespeople are spending their time and efforts in the best way. If salespeople are behind on a key indicator, they can easily change their behavior to increase the probability of success.
But, finding the right metrics isn’t how the story ends. Selling is about behaviors, not just analyses, and making sure that salespeople align their behaviors with those metrics is an ongoing process. Performance tracking can help — when done right.