Monitoring Sales Activities

Want to get your salespeople making better quality sales calls? Easy! Get them to monitor their sales activities and start keeping statistics.

I’m not talking about call reports here; I’m talking about monitoring the types of calls they make and the results they get. Sales happen as a result of activities, the right kind of activities. If someone isn’t making enough sales, it’s probably because they’re not doing enough of the right things (activities).

Useless Activities

Salespeople can be as active as busy beavers and still not make sales. Trust me on this. That’s because they’re busy doing the wrong things. Sometimes they’re busy doing the wrong things because they don’t want to do the right ones. These are the people who shouldn’t be in sales in the first place but are. If you’ve got some of these people (and many have), you’ve got a problem.

Even good salespeople aren’t always aware of why they’re successful, and the exercise of making them more aware of the activities that make them successful has the effect of helping them become even better.

Research studies on self-monitoring show that if a person monitors what he does, he’ll often become better at it. I don’t know why it works, but research shows that it does. Weigh yourself regularly and you may well start to lose weight. Keep a record of what you eat, and you’ll start eating more wisely. Monitor your sales calls and you make better sales calls. You get the idea.

How to Do It

Go to your top performers and ask them to keep some records on their daily sales call activities for a while so they can see how they’re operating. Ask them to develop a personal activity profile. Good salespeople are proud of what they do and how they do it and will readily share the information with you and the other members of the sales team.

Once you have an idea of what and how your best people are operating, you can compare the results with the people on the other end of the scale. If the number of calls is okay, look at the type of calls being made. Is the person making too many telephone calls, an excess of “comfort calls” (calls on people you like and who like you), too many “service calls,” etc.

If the activity reports show that the number of daily calls isn’t sufficient, then you want to investigate why. Perhaps the salesperson can’t or won’t make the required cold calls. Perhaps there’s a time management challenge or the individual is horribly disorganized. Perhaps the person doesn’t have enough leads. Perhaps there’s a morale or personal problem. Whatever it is dig until you find out.

Collecting the Data

Get your people to use a daily activity log to collect the following information:

  • Daily start and quitting times.
  • Total number of calls per day, week, or month.
  • Type of contact (telephone or visit).
  • Type of call:
  1. Cold Call: New prospect. Contact initiated by the salesperson.
  2. Company Lead: Lead follow-up.
  3. Warm Call: New prospect. Some previous contact.
  4. Opportunity F/U: Follow-up on an existing sales opportunity.
  5. Service Call: Post-sales call not related to a specific sales opportunity
  6. Courtesy Call: A social call to maintain contact with a key account or person.
  • Number of demonstrations (if appropriate) per day, week, or month.
  • Number of quotations (if appropriate) per day, week, or month
  • Number of new opportunities per day, week, or month.
  • Number of closed sales per day, week, or month.

The logs should be turned in weekly.

Analyzing the Data

The start and quitting times give you an idea of how many hours they spend per day and per week plying their trade.

The call count tells you the average number of calls they make in a day and a week. If you divide their sales income plus expenses by the number of calls, you can quickly get an idea of your cost of a sales call.

Use the type of contact information to assess the ratio of telephone calls to face-to-face visits. What’s the ratio for your top people? How does it compare to your less successful people?

The type of call information gives you the ratio of sales calls (types 1 to 4) to maintenance calls (types 5 and 6). Also look at the ratio of prospecting calls (type 1 to 3) to progress calls (type 4). A prospecting call is one where an attempt is made to get a sales opportunity started. A progress call is one that advances a specific sales opportunity. A maintenance call is one where, after the call is completed, the status quo remains unchanged. If someone is doing too many maintenance calls, he’s on his way to missing his sales targets.

The number of demonstrations, quotations, and new opportunities all give you an idea of the activity level of a successful person.

Using the Information

The information collected from your top performers gives you a picture of what your successful people do in order to be successful. Use this information to see how your less sterling performers compare. Many of the problems become self-correcting when under-performers compare how they operate in comparison with more successful salespeople.

If you have a poor performer whose numbers are similar to your top performers, then you’ve got a problem with call quality or a skills training problem. In my e-book  Salvaging Problem Salespeople, I talk about handling problem salespeople and how curb-side coaching can be an excellent tool to help your under-achievers sharpen their selling skills, build their confidence, and improve.

Bottom Line

This exercise can help even your best people get better. Imagine what it will do for the others.

Your job as a sales manager is to build a strong sales team. Monitoring the activities outlined here is a good step forward in knowing what to watch for as you build the team.