Are You Flying Blind?


Are You Flying Blind?

Sales Managers Leading Blind

I was in a conversation with a CEO last week asking questions about their sales organization, the critical sales ratios they monitor, how frequently they meet, what they accomplish during their sales meetings, turnover on their sales team, profit margins, their competitive landscape, and a host of other issues.  As I asked these questions I could see the CEO was getting more and more frustrated.

Finally he just threw up his hands and said “Look, I don’t track any of that stuff.  I just watch the results they put up and until recently I didn’t have to worry about it!”  

Here’s the mistake I made – by asking so many detailed questions I painted managing the sales organization as a complex, mysterious and difficult to understand process.  It’s not, but it does require top management attention and you can’t manage it simply by looking at the results .

As CEO you don’t have to track every last detail – leave that for your VP of Sales and your sales managers – but here are four key areas that provide a good place to start:

  1. Sales Organization – do you have enough turnover?  Will your sales managers fire someone for poor performance?  Are they constantly recruiting and looking for better talent?   How effective is your on-boarding process and are you actively working on ways to reduce the time from hire to revenue production?
  2. Sales Management – are your sales managers doing everything they can to grow your business?  Are they running effective sales meetings?  Are they coaching effectively and developing the team?  Do they demonstrate the right behaviors?  Do they hold people accountable?
  3. Sales Ratios – are there enough opportunities in your sales pipeline?  Are opportunities moving through your sales pipeline at the right pace?  Are your sales managers tracking the daily behaviors of their sales team?  Are their sales forecasts real-world or wishful thinking?
  4. Market Data – has each sales person identified their “top 5” (or whatever the right number is for your market) opportunities?  Do they know which of their clients are on your competitor’s “top 5” list and what are they doing to build deeper and broader relationships?  What is your competition doing that may disrupt your plans?  Have you identified new markets or opportunities to broaden the reach of your product or service?  Who in your company is thinking about this and looking for ways to grow new markets?

If you’re like most executives we meet you’re probably not tracking all of these things and if you are you may not be tracking them with enough frequency.  The question you have to ask yourself is what could be more important than growing your top line?  Everything starts with a sale and if you focus your time and attention on these four areas you will start to see greater levels of accountability, increased activity, stronger sales performance, and ultimately increased revenue.