In response to the question “How do you effectively manage sales activity?” it’s not uncommon to hear a response along the lines of ………“the sales team are charged with making x calls per week which are monitored and reviewed in our CRM system”. Quantum’s polite response is usually something along the lines of …..”that’s very interesting but how do you effectively manage sales activity?”
Aligning sales activity planning to the delivery of the sales plan is pivotal to the performance of any well-led sales operation. Sales leadership is intrinsically about putting in place the right mix of sales activity to ensure that the sales plan objectives are delivered. Sales plan objectives are usually multi -dimensional incorporating a mix of some or all of the following:
- New customers
- Existing customers
- Key account penetration
- Reduced churn
- Product mix
Put simply, the role of the sales organisation is to achieve these multi-dimensional objectives and in doing so deliver the sales plan. The role of the sales organisation is not to do its best and see what happens in the hope that the sales plan will be more or less achieved (sadly an all too familiar story), but to manage the sales activity required to achieve the ‘size’ and ‘shape’ of the sales results.
The art and science of good sales leadership is therefore to align sales activity to the delivery of sales plan objectives and this involves three key aspects:
Quantity of sales effort
How many raw calls does the team/individual need to make? The answer to that is determined by each individual’s personal conversion rate across all aspects of the sales cycle (client acquisition, tender conversions, key account penetration etc.)
Someone who has a conversion rates of 1:2 won’t need to make as many calls to deliver the same result as someone who has a conversion rates of 1:4. However, conversion ratios are primarily determined by the “direction” and “quality” of sales effort and not by the number of calls being made. Doing the right amount of sales activity is critical.
Direction of sales effort
Which organisations do we need to target and what’s the level of decision maker we need to engage with? How many are existing and how many new customers do we need to deliver? Are we focused on meeting the right organisations at the right decision making level or are we happy to meet anyone who will see us? If it’s the latter the number of visits required to deliver the plan will rise exponentially. This aspect of managing sales activity is crucial and is often ignored.
Quality of sales effort
How effective are we at actually selling our added value propositions when sat in front of the decision maker in the right organisation? Even with the right quantity and direction of selling effort the answer to this question will significantly impact the number of sales call required to deliver the sales plan. We nee to manage this aspect of sales activity carefully and make sure that we train and coach our team members to continuously improve the quality of their sales effort.
So to improve your confidence in achieving future sales results, the main thing is the manage the sales activity that will produce the results.. If every sales call is part of a well-considered sales activity plan aligned to the delivery of the sales objectives with a targeted organisation in front of the effective decision maker and the call is wrapped in a company’s added value positioning then it can be of high value. If by contrast the sales call is simply one of x visits per week recorded by the CRM requirement in front of a junior member of an organisation who buy from your competitors then it’s likely to be of little if any value.