Sales Performance – Managing The Fundamentals

In my work with sales teams, I insist on ‘managing the fundamentals.’ Every week, sales teams I support hold a formal ‘read-out’ on their basic metrics of prospecting and pipeline contribution.

The following is the list of questions we answer for the previous week and last 30 days. [You can download these questions as a printable worksheet HERE]

  • How many calls were made?
  • How many calls resulted in a conversation?
  • What was the conversion from calls to conversations as a percent?
  • How many 1st meetings were scheduled?
  • What was the conversion from conversations to scheduled meeting as a percent?
  • What was your 1st Meeting show rate?
  • What was the conversion from 1st Meeting to 1st Discovery as a percent?
  • How many new opportunities were created?
  • How many opportunities were moved to qualified?

Pulling these statistics from takes less than five minutes and less than 15 minutes to review. Yet none of the sales teams I have ever worked with took time consistently review their fundamentals prior to working with me and the teams I work with initially resist the exercise and push back during these sessions.


A (Swimming) Goal Achieved

A few months back I used the story of my return to swimming for exercise to make a point about how changes in mindset are critical for success.

When I started swimming, my goal was to swim a mile (1750 Yards) in under 35 minutes. At the beginning of July, it took me a little over 45 minutes to swim a mile.

The photo above is my Garmin swim watch after my workout today. Not only does this watch save me from the mind numbing boredom of counting laps in my head; it tracks the distance I swim as well as total time, split times, and 100 yard pace. You can see from the photo I surpassed my goal by 39 seconds.

What you can’t see is that the path to my goal has not been a straight line. A review of my training log (pulled from my fancy watch) shows days where progress was made and days where my results seemed to regress.

Most surprisingly, the quality of my workout rarely aligned with the perception of my performance.

On days when I felt like I was cruising through the water, my times typically fell short of expectations. On other days when I felt like I was dragging a body behind me, to my watch showed me I had broken through a previous barrier.

Perception is NOT Reality

As a species, humans have extremely poor self-awareness. Stated simply, our subjective view of how we perform a particular activity is often contradicted by objective measurement of that activity.

This is the reason every single professional athlete relies on performance measurement and external assessment (coaching) to reach their peak potential.

Selling is a Performance Sport

Other than professional sports, selling is the only profession where income growth directly correlates to performance with virtually no upper limit.

Though it may sometimes require changing companies, it is undeniable that the better you perform, the more you will earn.

It stands to reason then that taking ownership for increasing your performance has a high return on investment.

A Real Life Example

During a recent session with a sales team I coach, one of the team members shared that they were:

  • Making roughly 250 calls per week
  • Converting 5% of calls to conversations (Benchmark = 10%)
  • Converting 24% of conversations to 1st meetings (Benchmark = 75%)
  • Closing a solid 25% of qualified opportunities (Benchmark = 25%)
  • On track to achieve less than 50% attainment of quota

As we discussed the situation it became clear:

  • Not enough conversations were converting into 1st meeting
  • ‘Closing more deals’ was not a likely solution
  • Getting more people to ‘pick up the phone’ might not be in our control
  • Doubling or tripling the volume of cold calls was possible but impractical
  • Increasing conversion from conversation to 1st meeting was the most efficient way to achieve the desired result

To address the problem of low conversions we spent the next week intensively coaching the script and objection handling used to secure 1st meetings. We met every morning to role play before the first ‘real’ call of the day.

In a matter of days, we identified and addressed the elements of this process component that were causing the low conversion.

The following week, this team member was converting conversations to 1st meetings at 64% and continuing to improve.

What Professionals Do That You Can Too
  • Set benchmarks for the metrics that contribute to performance (see list above.)
  • Track your performance on weekly and trailing (30 day, 90 day, etc.) basis.
  • Allocate time each week (Not during the work week!) to review these metrics.
  • Identify areas where you are below above or below expectations.
  • For all metrics, understand whether you are improving or declining.
  • Pick one (two at most) areas to focus on improving over the next seven days.
  • Ask your peers (the top performer on your team) to listen in on some of their calls.
  • Tell your manager where you have found a weakness and ask them role play with you and listen in on some of your calls.
The Bottom Line… It’s Your Bottom Line

You don’t need to wait for your company to hire me or even pay me out of your own pocket. This entire process won’t cost you more than a few hours a week. In return it will mean the difference between missing plan and making plan.

Better still, it will mean the difference between making plan and overachieving your goal and hitting those accelerators that will take your income to the next level.


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