As a sales manager, how often do you struggle with the line between being a supportive and understanding manager, and holding your sales team accountable?
After hearing excuse after excuse about why so-and-so wasn't going to buy such-and-such, you throw your hands up and ask yourself, "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?"
Tracking Activity with Leading Indicators
When you find yourself asking these questions, that's when you take your focus off the revenue number, and shift gears to focus on activity. More specifically, the amount of activity each salesperson needs to hit the goal.
Also known as leading indicators.
Leading indicators provide insight into likely future outcomes, giving organizations the ability to act accordingly in the present. Salesforce states that, "a leading indicator describes everything that leads up to making the sale. It’s the top of your sales pipeline and defines how capable you are at opening an opportunity — not closing a sale."
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.
Activities That Help Move Prospects Through The Sales Process
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.
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's, "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 has helped salespeople align their focus and achieve their revenue goals. One step at a time.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in 2018 and has since been updated.