As a former sales manager, I often struggled with the line between being a supportive and understanding manager, and holding my sales team accountable. One day, after hearing excuse after excuse about why so-and-so wasn't going to buy such-and-such, I threw my hands up and asked myself, if all of this feels so out of my control, what is in my control? What can I focus my team on that ensures we win where we need to win?
That's when I took my focus off of the revenue number and shifted gears to focus on activity. More specifically, the amount of activity each salesperson needed to have to hit the goal. Also known as leading indicators. When I announced to my team our new focus, my heightened awareness and watchful eye on activity, you can probably imagine the body language I read from across the conference room table. I was never one to feel like I should be a micro-manager, but indeed that's what I was about to become.
In today's sales landscape, activity is more important than ever. Buyers have more choices, more solutions, and more ways to research all of these opportunities themselves, without the persuasion of a salesperson. With that, the activity that is tracked needs to adapt.
Once upon a time, only a face-to-face appointment led to meaningful engagement and a sale. Today, there's so much more your team can do to remain relevant in the mind of a prospect, keeping them engaged all throughout the sales process.
Here's a short list of activities we know can help move prospects through the sales process:
1. Attempts to Connect
Attempts to connect are meaningful engagements that include any interaction a seller has with a prospect that moves them forward in the sales process. It's not, "I left a message." It is, "I handled the objection and am sending them a case study to review."
Attempts to connect should naturally lead to opportunities to have a needs analysis and advise, but they don't always need to be face-to-face to have a positive and productive impact. You may have an initial phone call, a screen share meeting, or even a text message exchange that leads your to the opportunity to present a solution.
Much like a face-to-face initial meeting may not be necessary, a formal proposal may not be either. Depending on the activities leading up to the sale, a contract could be more appropriate than a presentation. Knowing what the decision-making process of the prospect looks like will help determine what's best here.
Plain and simple... is it booked, invoiced, and/or paid? Every salesperson should know their closing ratio. Track this from prospect to close to help your team know more about what level of activity is right for their individual goals.
It's time to shift gears and focus on activity with your salespeople. Helping your sales team might mean taking the focus off revenue and putting it on the specific activities that actually get salespeople to their revenue goals. Knowing these activities are what moves prospects through the sales process and actually tracking these activities specifically helped me help my salespeople align their focus and achieve their revenue goals. One step at a time.