Measuring Up to Success

How do you measure up? Are you as good as you could be? Do you even know how good you could be? Here’s a way to find out.

Research studies on self-monitoring show that people who monitor what they do 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 losing weight. Keep a record of what you eat and you’ll start eating more wisely. Monitor the use of your time and you’ll manage your time more effectively. Monitor your sales calls and you’ll make better sales calls. You get the idea.

Establishing a Benchmark

Apart from total sales, there is no universal set of standards by which salespeople can measure their performance. When their sales are good, they don’t care what or how they did it so they don’t take the time to monitor their activities. Consequently, when sales are poor, they’re not sure what they should have been doing, or not doing, as the case may be.

As a sales management consultant, I often go to the top performers and ask them to assist me by keeping some records on their activities for a while so both of us can see how they’re operating. Basically, I ask them to develop a personal sales activity profile. I then use the information to establish a benchmark for a successful salesperson in that industry.

There is no common benchmark for top sales performance. Benchmarks are specific to an industry, type of selling, and type of sales organizations. I’m going to show you how to establish your own benchmark.

What to Benchmark

If you’re like most salespeople, you don’t like paperwork, so I’ll keep the process as simple as possible. Take a moment to make a form or spreadsheet to capture the following information. Call it your Daily Sales Activity Report.

First of all, note when you start and finish each day. This gives you an idea of how many hours per day and week you spend selling.

Then keep track of the number of calls you make in a day along with the type of call and how the person was contacted (telephone or visit).

Typical call types are:

1) Cold Call: No previous contact and no appointment with the prospect. Initiated by the salesperson.

2) Company Lead: Lead follow-up. May be a cold or lukewarm call.

3) Warm Call: New prospect. Some previous contact. May or may not have an appointment.

4) Opportunity F/U: Follow-up on an existing sales opportunity. The purpose of the call is to advance a sale.

5) Service Call: Post-sales call or other type of sales not related to a specific sales opportunity.

6) Courtesy Call: Basically, a social call to maintain contact with a key account or person. Usually unrelated to a specific sales opportunity.

Notice that, while it is very helpful to have additional information, for the purpose of establishing a benchmark you don’t need to track any call specifics such as who you called on, what transpired, action to be taken, etc. All you need is the basic information.

Complete the Daily Sales Activity Report in its entirety if you want to have a more in-depth look at your activities.

Profiling Yourself

As mentioned, the start and stop times give you an idea of how many hours you spend per day and per week plying your trade.

The Call Count profiles the average number of calls you make in a day and a week. If you divide your sales income plus expenses by the number of calls, you can quickly get an idea of the cost of a sales call. The number may surprise you.

The Type of Call information gives you the ratio of prospecting or progress calls (call types 1-4) to maintenance or non-sales calls (call types 5 and 6). Also look at the ratio of your prospecting calls (types 1-3) to your 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.

Use the how the person was contacted information to assess the ratio of telephone calls to face-to-face visits. Salespeople with a diverse area will tend to spend more time on the phone that making face-to-face visits. On the other hand, a salesperson that is working the downtown core of a major centre will have the ratio weighted more heavily in favour of making face-to-face visits or pressing the flesh as it’s called.

Using the Information

Now that you have a benchmark and a profile of a successful salesperson (you), you can use this information as your starting point for improving how you operate and becoming even more successful.

Review the information to see if there are any obvious areas that need to be addressed. Are you spending too much time trying to sell over the telephone or not enough? Are you making too many comfort calls (non-sales calls)? Are you simply not making the required number of calls to be as successful as you could be?

If you’re doing all the right activities but your sales just aren’t where you want them to be, you may have a problem with call quality. If this is the case, put your ego on the back burner and ask your sales manager to make some coaching calls with you to see if he/she can find areas for improvement.

While it’s extremely hard to admit that maybe you’re not as good as you should be, doing so is the first step to developing your selling skills and becoming as good as you can be.

Use this process to know where you’re starting from, figure out where you want to go, decide on how you’re going to get there, and then measure up to your own definition of success.