Driving Revenue Attainment: Data Driven Sales Coaching to Maximise Effectiveness Across the Funnel
Sales is a numbers game – everyone knows that right? Unfortunately too many people still fail to realise that the numbers that matter in the sales funnel aren’t just the activity levels but should also include the ratios up the funnel.
“Seymour Sellmore” is a character that a lot of us were introduced to in our early days of selling and arguably for a “green” salesperson, it’s not a bad concept. After all, as my colleague and friend Stuart Lotherington is fond of reminding us, sales at its simplest is about ‘Skill’ and ‘Will’ where “Will” is defined by activity rates. However, we can’t afford to forget ‘Skill’ and the reason we are measuring the activities is to work out the conversion ratios so that we can focus coaching/development initiatives in the right areas for the business and the individual.
I’m thinking about this a lot recently due to the time I’ve been spending with a number of clients who are trying to shift from a situation where they have had market driven growth, to one where they need to proactively win business in an increasingly challenging/competitive environment. In this context, it is essential that they develop a focused and accountable approach to sales activity.
“Our business is different,”; “that works in a transactional environment but our world is more sophisticated/complex,”; “the rules are different these days,” I have lost count of the number of times people have found creative rationalisations (or as we at SBR Consulting call them, ‘Rational Lies!’) as to why the fundamental rules of sales don’t apply to them, their business or their market. However, the data doesn’t lie if we take the time to analyse it so we can then develop the insight that can drive our coaching interactions.
It is definitely true that, “We get more of what we measure,” and that there is an inherent danger in just measuring an input like meetings in isolation. It is human nature that if we are being held accountable to our meeting stats, then magically we will get more meetings. However any of us that have led sales functions will know that many of the extra meetings will be total rubbish.
When we are looking at the conversions of meetings:opps generated, we get a real picture that indicates the effectiveness of the meetings being held. If the conversion rate is awful, e.g. 15 meetings to 1 opportunity, it’s easy to understand what is going on – either we are meeting the right people in the wrong way or we are meeting the wrong people.
My previous point on embedding behavioural change shows we should be using the data to determine the focus of our coaching interactions.
Call to action:
Define your sales process in terms of the activities that lead to sales (e.g. calls, conversations, meetings, proposals, contracts)
Measure the activity levels at each stage
Analyse the ratios between each stage
Improve the areas that stand out
Control the changes
Any of you familiar with six sigma will recognise DMAIC above. The truth is that great sales professionals and organisations have been doing this for years – and it is often why they are great sales professionals and organisations!
Alan Morton, Senior Partner