HARDISON’S TIPS – SEPTEMBER 15, 2021 – Focus on Activity Management–2
To answer those questions, you’ll need to quantify your performance. As I note in my book, Beyond the Mountaintop: Observations on Selling, Living and Achieving, “Good sales data may cause you to change your behavior so your efforts are not wasted. Once you understand the activities you should focus on, you can devote more time and energy to these areas. Ultimately, it will help you make better decisions.”
In other words, the right sales and sales management processes matter; but making sure you are following the right processes depends on measuring the right things.
Measuring the Right Things
Most salespeople and Sales Managers use metrics. Their CRM system provides snapshots of progress and performance. Unfortunately, most sales metrics are little more than post-mortems. They are backward-looking rather than being meaningful in real-time; AND they often don’t truly matter to reaching the ultimate goal. The way most salespeople use metrics is to validate activity, not productivity. It is the challenge and responsibility of the Sales Manager, on the other hand, to make sure metrics are in place to measure productivity and real progress toward sales goals. For that to happen, the Sales Manager needs to understand and manage both leading and lagging Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Leading indicators are predictive measurements. As I say in my book, they “are the ‘warning lights’ that something isn’t working or something has gone wrong. These warning lights allow you the opportunity to intervene before it is too late… [and] take corrective measures.” Not having enough prospects in the pipeline, or not spending enough time on prospecting, could be leading indicators for future dips in sales. Leading indicators empower you to be proactive and ward off a sales crisis before it happens.
Lagging indicators, on the other hand, give you a look in the rear view mirror. This perspective can be somewhat valuable, too, and you can, and should, take corrective actions based on what you learn from “after the fact” data. But lagging indicators only enable you to be reactive. Again, they are tantamount to an autopsy. They help you see what went wrong, but cannot help you avoid the problem before it is too late. Lagging indicators might include quarterly sales data, such as deals that have actually closed during the period. This is good information to track; it’s just not that helpful in real-time.