According to a survey from Vantage Point Performance and The Sales Education Foundation, sales leaders consider more than 300 different metrics key to effective sales management. But only 17% of those metrics are “manageable," meaning they can be directly influenced.
Which metrics are unmanageable? Business results, like revenue growth and market share, and sales objectives, such as customer retention and win rate. These indicators are important, but they’re dependent on the buyer.
The remaining 17% of crucial metrics from this survey are sales activities. That includes number of sales calls, VP-level meetings, new qualified opportunities, and so on. The sales team has complete control over these activities -- and with proper planning, sales activities can influence sales objectives, and subsequently, business results.
In other words, getting the business results you want hinges on managing the activities that precede them. Get started with this three-step process.
3 Steps to Implementing Sales Activity Management
1) Determine key selling activities.
First, define the sales activities that lead to won deals. Start by laying out the structure of your sales organization. Note each selling role and where it fits into the sales process. Do you have sales development reps who generate leads and then distribute those leads to account executives? Or are your field sales reps handling deals from start to finish within their assigned territories?
Once you've mapped out the structure of your sales team, define the key activities for each role. For a sales development rep, those could be conversations, meetings scheduled, and sales accepted opportunities. For a field sales rep on the other hand, those key activities might be opportunities discovered, VP-level conversations, face-to-face meetings, and proposals sent.
Next, interview your sales managers and reps to get their perspective on key activities. Ask top performers what they do on a day-to-day basis that makes them successful. Because salespeople aren’t always completely aware of what’s working, you should also speak to other reps and managers about what they see top performers doing every day.
Use this information to develop the series of activities that make up the steps of your sales process. Then share the results with your team and get their feedback. Not only will involving them increase buy-in across the team, but they may point out crucial points you’ve overlooked.
Don't forget to analyze best practices as well. Two salespeople might contact the same number of prospects in a day, but if only one of those reps is researching her prospects, writing personalized emails, incorporating trigger events and buyer behavior, and crafting individual value propositions, she'll be far more successful than her peer.
When you set key activities with your sales team, you should share key selling techniques and strategies at the same time.
2) Reverse-engineer your sales process.
Next, determine the amount of each activity you need to reach your goal. Start with your highest-level goal: Revenue.
Let’s say your annual target is $70 million in bookings, and your average deal size is $35,000.
$70 million (revenue needed) ÷ $35,000 (average deal size) = 2,000 deals
If you have a 25% proposal-to-deal conversion rate, your salespeople will need to send out 8,000 proposals. That, in turn, requires 2,000 meetings. For those meetings to occur, your reps must have 128,000 conversations.
Now break down the activity metrics by timeframe.
- 2,000 deals ÷ year = 167 deals per month
- 8,000 proposals ÷ year = 667 proposals per month
- 32,000 meetings ÷ year = 640 meetings per week
- 64,000 calls ÷ year = 256 calls per day
Assign a corresponding number of activities to each salesperson. Let’s assume you have 100 reps on your team.
- 167 deals per month ÷ 100 reps = 2 deals per month
- 667 proposals per month ÷ 100 reps = 7 proposals per month
- 640 meetings per week ÷ 100 reps = 7 meetings per week
- 256 conversations per day ÷ 100 reps = 3 calls per day
Now you can track activity by individual sales rep. Give each one a personal scorecard so they can keep track of their own metrics and make informed decisions about how they spend their time.
3) Monitor metrics and course-correct performance.
Proactively manage these activity metrics by monitoring them daily and reviewing them in your weekly one-on-ones and team meetings. It’s helpful to use a sales activity management system, which automates tracking, calculates pacing, and alerts sales leaders when metrics fall behind.
Use the data to determine where deals get stuck in your sales process and the areas your reps need more coaching. Do you notice that reps are sending the right number of proposals but not winning enough deals? They might need help writing proposals. Is your team making the right number of calls but not getting enough meetings? Train them to accurately identify your ideal customers.
If your team starts to fall behind on their activity goals, try rallying them around specific metrics. Use personalized scorecards and stack rankings to inspire focus and collaboration. With the activity data you gather, you can uncover best practices and recognize top performers for each activity.
Sales activities are the only metrics we can control, so we must manage our teams around them. This approach is called activity-based selling, and it’s being adopted by modern sales leaders everywhere. Will you be next?