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Its a numbers game!

Research shows that for 80% of the sales people that waiver between producing good results and not so good results, it’s primarily down to their activity and not necessarily skill.

When acting as a part-time sales manager, I am surprised at how many sales people with good levels of skill are not paying attention to their basic numbers. I was with John a couple of months ago and he could not work out why, despite all his hard work, he was not consistently earning the commissions he wanted. John was a new client and so, as usual, I asked to see his numbers. John went a little red in the face. He had always kept them in larger companies but admitted, since coming to this company, he had not been asked and so he had stopped keeping them. He thought the numbers were for the managers and not for him!

I asked him to begin recording what activity he was doing each day:

* Number of new prospecting calls
* Number of people actually spoken to
* Number of new meetings booked
* Number of first meetings held
* Number of follow up meetings held
* Number of proposals
* Number of deals closed

I also asked him to record his time:

* Time spent generating new leads
* Time spent in front of customer
* Time spent in front of customer/prospects
* Time spent on proposals
* Time spent in car
* Time spent on Admin

John initially said that he did not have time to keep the figures. I then explained that top sales performers say the opposite. Reluctantly he agreed to do it for a month without any distortion of the figures. At the end of this period we got back together to review the results and it gave John three interesting insights:

* Firstly, John found that the mere fact he was keeping the record had kept his focus and spurred him to do more activity, especially in lead generation.

* Secondly, John could see that he was spending far too much time travelling and doing admin and not enough time generating leads and seeing customers/prospects.

* Thirdly, we were are to work out a few changes in the way John was doing things that immediately would release an extra day a week of time for lead generation.

I spoke to John a couple of weeks later and he was all excited. Understanding his numbers had given him a clear focus. He had readjusted where he was devoting his time and the levels of activity he was making. John could see, through the numbers, his sales pipeline filling up as a direct result of his activity. He realised that if he wanted to see the sales flowing consistently out one end of the pipeline he had to keep feeding the other end of the pipeline. I did not have to ask John again about his numbers. He was keeping them for himself and had begun to see the results show up in his commission levels – he was sold!!

Please note that the numbers for your sales pipeline process may differ from John’s. You will need to think about what are your key indicators. Same principal but possibly different numbers.

The accidental salesman networking survival guide