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We are the sum of our actions. At least, that’s according to Aristotle. And it’s in that regard that we imagine Aristotle would have been a pretty good salesman. As any good salesperson can recognize, you won’t get results without action. But too often, it’s extremely difficult to know exactly which actions drive the most results.
You can spend plenty of time sorting through mindless emails, writing big win announcements, or even calling on prospects. But at the end of the day, none of those things will necessarily get you closer to a sale. On the other hand, you could spend an entire week checking a lot of valuable boxes, but on paper all your boss sees is that you haven’t closed any deals yet–does that put you on par with the person who did a bunch of meaningless activities this week? Certainly not. And that’s why it’s crucial that in sales–and really any industry–we have a KPI dashboard to come back to: a place where we can quantify and track the most critical activities that lead to success.
If you’re a wise builder, you put the foundation of your home on something sturdy. That’s what a lot of groundwork is in sales: building a firm foundation so that you can have a house full of deals for years to come. And if your team isn’t focused on building the right foundation, your numbers are always going to be disappointing in the long run. If you’re not sure where to start with your team, here are a few key selling activities that you need to track on your dashboard this week.
First and foremost, you need to have a measurable amount of time spent purely on prospecting. While this can be easily confused with simply cold-calling, or checking the box of reaching out to leads, there’s a definitive science to prospecting that is too often overlook. Consider this point from HubSpot: “Before a salesperson even has a chance to contact a prospect, he or she is already 57% of the way through the sales process.
Yet, salespeople are still cold calling as if buyers have no awareness. Experienced sales people can expect to spend 7.5 hours of cold calling to get ONE qualified appointment, according to a Baylor University study.” Time spent cold calling is not always value. Make sure your prospects are qualified, and that you’re informed going into the call.
It can be easy to be excited about having a full pipeline week in and week out. But that’s meaningless if you’re simply tracking numbers. One Salesforce “knowledge article” shares this succinct explanation of why you need to be tracking every lead in your pipeline: “By managing your leads in a systematic and structured way, you can increase both the number of leads you generate and how many of those leads you convert.” If a lead isn’t qualified, it’s just wasting space in your pipeline. Make sure that you’re qualifying leads, and using past data to make your own pipeline ever more efficient.
Once you’ve got someone on the hook, you don’t just automatically have their attention forever. In fact, one of the biggest problems companies face in their ability to drive sales is the time it takes to follow up with someone once they’ve identified as a lead. It’s almost as if a salesperson’s natural instinct is to feel relief once they know someone is a lead, rather than urgency. On this, it’s important that you’re tracking your average lead response time in a way that drives that sense of urgency–so that you’re not letting days and days pass before you follow up. The simple truth is, the sooner you follow up, the better chance you have of capitalizing on your new lead’s enthusiasm.
No customer is identical. While there are certainly going to be similarities in each sale you make, you know better than most that every case is going to be different. Budget issues take hold, procurement drags their feet, or someone else comes in to make the decision that you didn’t know about. Having an “average sales cycle” metric can in many ways feel forced, right? But the reason this is so important is because you need a benchmark to know when you’re spending time chasing the right deals, and when you may be investing too much time in a small fish. While it always feels good to get the win, sometimes it’s better to cut your losses and pick a new river.
Average new deal size is one of the metrics that Harvard Business Review identifies as most important to any sales organization. For any company focused on growth–which should, well, be every company–understanding average new deal size is going to be your best weather balloon. As you face questions about internal restructuring, new strategies going forward, or what new sort of engagement initiatives you want to invest in for your team, this becomes your thermometer for what’s working and what isn’t. If the average new deal size for any team or division is up or down, it’s going to help you to understand where your attack plan is working, and where you may need more work.
Finally, there’s opportunity win rate. Gary Smith, a sales management consultant, says it like this: “All other things being equal, if your opportunity win rate is improving then your sales are increasing.” He says that measuring this statistic is the most effective way to increase revenue. Why? Because opportunity win rate tells us about a lot more than how much money you’re making.
It gives you insight into employee engagement, helps to set standards for training purposes, and gives you the chance to assess your best and worst performers in very direct, plain terms. Gary explains that you simply measure this by the number of opportunities gained in a month versus the opportunities lost. It’s as simple as that, and puts everyone on the same level. Measuring key selling activities like these will seem daunting at times, but when you have the right platform–and it’s one that your employees can really engage with–it’s going to take your organization’s abilities to brand new heights.
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