How to Succeed as a Sales Manager

As a sales manager and leader, are you measuring the right metrics for sales success?

At Vantage Point Performance, we recently wrote a book based on a groundbreaking research study we conducted about the metrics that leading sales forces are using to measure and manage their sellers. Interestingly, we discovered that thousands of sales metrics fall into one of three categories:

  1. Business results (such as revenue and market share).
  2. Sales objectives (such as acquiring new customers and selling certain products).
  3. Sales activities (day-to-day tasks like planning and conducting sales calls).

A key insight from the research is that only sales activities can truly be managed. Numbers related to sales objectives and business results are important to everyone, but these numbers cannot be directly controlled by sales management.

In fact, sales objectives and business results are trailing indicators of a sales force’s performance – they only show what you’ve accomplished in the past. Measuring sales activities, on the other hand, (which provide insights into current behaviors) are leading indicators that foretell whether those objectives and results will be attained in the future.

Amazingly, only 17% of the metrics in our study were focused on sales activities. Or, stated differently: more than 80% of the things sales forces are measuring are things that they cannot actually control.

You can’t control revenue – you can only control the things that your sellers are doing day-to-day. For example,

  • which types of prospects your reps are calling this week; 
  • what types of conversations they’ll have;
  • whether they’re completing their call plans; and
  • whether they’re proactively managing their opportunities.

Clearly, many sales managers are only looking at metrics that tell them how successful they’ve been in the past. But as our research shows, a far more effective approach is to start measuring and managing sales activities instead. These are the critical inputs to success.

It’s important to remember that CRM is just a tool, and it only does what we tell it to do. Information goes in, and information comes out. Which information we request and what we do with that data is up to us as sales managers. Once we start using CRM to measure the right metrics, we’ll begin to predictably influence the future and manage sales teams that fulfill their highest potential.

To discover the best practices and frameworks you can use to influence the future, register to download a free chapter from Cracking the Sales Management Code, including a forward by Neil Rackham, best-selling author of SPIN Selling.

 

Jason Jordan
Jason Jordan is a partner of Vantage Point Performance and coauthor of Cracking the Sales Management Code.
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