Most advice about sales metrics treats the work of the salesperson as though it is a black box. These advisors recommend that sales managers track how much goes into the black box (open opportunities, deal size), how much comes out of the black box (closed opportunities, win rates) and how long opportunities spend inside the black box (sale cycle).
These metrics track the flow of work that passes through the black box of sales work. But they provide little information about what is happening inside the black box. They ignore that the sales process consists of a series of value-adding steps and they fail to measure these incremental steps. They make it impossible to anticipate the results of sales activities and to make adjustments to the process.
If you were to look inside that black box, the first thing you would see is that multitasking is killing the productivity of your salespeople. Instead of spending all their time negotiating sales, most of their time goes to administrative tasks, account management, proposal generation, prospecting, and fulfillment logistics.
Empower Salespeople to Focus on Selling
The first step to improve your sales results is to cease treating the work of sales like a black box. You can do this by dividing the labor of sales so that salespeople spend more time negotiating sales and less time on other tasks. Delegate the other tasks to less-skilled and lower-paid individuals. In the case of prospecting, delegate the work to an organizational system of generating opportunities.
Now that salespeople can focus their efforts on selling, your growth will primarily be a function of the number of meaningful selling interactions (MSIs) that your salespeople conduct each day. Therefore Justin Roff-Marsh explains, this is the activity that you need to measure obsessively.
Obsess on Volume of Meaningful Sales Interactions (MSIs)
How do you agree on the definition of an MSI? Rather than try to agree on exactly what constitutes an MSI, it may be easier to eliminate all the interactions that are not meaningful (leaving a message, agreeing to call back later, dropping off some paperwork) and then start tracking everything else.
To successfully track MSIs, you must insist that your salespeople record all of their MSIs. Salespeople may be reluctant at first, but will get on board with this requirement once you start running daily work-in-progress (WIP) meetings.
WIP meetings should be stand-up meetings 20 minutes in duration. They should consist almost exclusively of a review of the work that your team members are performing along with some role-playing. You should run these WIP meetings daily for your inside sales people and twice weekly for your field reps. Field reps can join via videoconference if they are remote.
Once you’ve recorded each person’s MSIs at the WIP meeting, you can shift the conversation from the topic of activity to a conversation about the status of the opportunities that each person is pursuing.
You can’t discuss every opportunity that every salesperson has open but you can select two or three notable opportunities for each salesperson in each meeting and discuss them. You want to get through but ask tough questions that expose each salesperson’s understanding of their potential client situation, the logic behind the solution they’re proposing, and what they’re doing to maintain the velocity of each sales opportunity. The final component of your group meeting should be a quick role-playing exercise where you drill critical communication techniques.
Although the primary purpose of the WIP meeting is to track MSI activity, you can expect many additional benefits from these meetings. The simple act of recording activity and discussing opportunities will likely cause an incremental increase in sales activity levels and in sales volume.
As you shift the work of sales from craftwork to teamwork, go inside the black box and start measuring the volume of meaningful sales interactions.