Setting Core Targets
Success in Sales means taking stock of your performance across multiple metrics
If you’ve come this far in sales, you’ll already have covered how important the right mindset is, so now we need to explore the best ways to apply ourselves!
The Big Picture
We can learn lessons from Formula 1 Race Directors when it comes to establishing a successful approach to sales:.
Just as success in Formula 1 is about more than winning the odd race, the sales process is not just about delivering on a single sale, it’s about successfully managing both your time and your client portfolio to deliver a profitable and growing revenue stream.
Just knowing whether you won or lost won't give you much to work with when you need to improve, Like Race Directors we need to be measuring all key factors to see what's working well and what needs attention.
If you’re struggling to meet your overall revenue ambitions, it may be that there’s just a particular area of your business that needs to improve – perhaps there’s not enough new customers being contacted, or there’s a particular objection you’re finding hard to handle, or you’re not able to negotiate the best price possible.
Measuring it means you can manage it.
Create a Shared Vision
Before you start setting targets, be prepapred to communicate them to others – both inside and outside your business if it helps. It doesn’t matter that we sometimes fail, what matters is that we understand what we are trying to do and commit ourselves to improving.
Targets should always be shared with your colleagues and management team if you have one – they may be able to show you a few tricks that would help both you and entire teams build their performance.
If you are working as part of a team, it can also be a good pointer to where your managers can help you most.
Think about setting and communicating targets from two perspectives:
- Qualitative targets apply to underlying styles, approaches and behaviours
- Quantitative targets apply to specific, measurable numbers
Think about whether you can set yourself targets and expectations in all the following areas (and make sure your colleagues and managers have them too!)....
Build a Qualitative Foundation
Let’s look at the initial approach.
Firstly, appearance can be best measured by giving yourself a Dress Code. Whilst this sounds proscriptive, in fact it’s just a guide to the way other people perceive you. It’s a truism that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the fact is that people do, and we should dress accordingly.
It's also useful because it acts as a constant visual reminder that you are now on company time, with professional obligations.
This doesn’t mean that dressing smartly means better revenues (although it often does), it’s that the way you dress should reflect your customer’s perception of authority and credibility in your business area. You won’t be able to make this decision on your own, so ask the opinions of others and act as a group.
Secondly, set yourself a golden set of rules covering your attitude and approach. Create a wall chart that illustrates them and put them in a place where they will be in constant view at all time.
For example, these could be 'A Formula for Success' or 'Our Values'.
Whatever you choose to call them, make sure they are an accurate representation of your professional brand.
It will help you sustain a constant idea of who you are and how your company presents itself to your customers.
It will also ensure that everyone in your company knows what you expect of each other at all times.
Establish Quantitative Goals
Targets surrounding day to day activity are more specific.
Reach against your client base is a good place to start. The world keeps turning, and your key customers today will have moved on tomorrow, whilst customers you never thought were important may be your best customers next year. Measure the percentage of your client base you've contacted in the last three months.
Even if you think you’ve nailed the model, keep prospecting with new clients just to make sure they know you’re there.
Frequency of contact is another key metric, and telephone call rate targets help you get an idea of how your business is sustaining its contact with customers. We all find it easy to focus on 'live' business, but too much focus on current customers can leave you with a dead patch if their spend starts to drop.
We call telephone call rates ‘feeding the pipeline’ because however successful your business is, you need to keep putting new leads into the system to keep converting new business at the other end.
External Meetings are a good measure of customer engagement. Whilst high meeting rates themselves don’t tell you anything, the majority of your customers won’t sign big cheques to people they’ve only encountered over the phone or email. That means you need to get in front of them and shake hands!
Proposals are a measure of your ability to generate new ideas that actually meet customer needs. It’s important that you don’t make proposals unless you understand what your customer wants, and that they are actually interested in seeing your offer, otherwise you’ll simply be generating pointless work.
Ensure a Return on Investment
Conversion rate will then give you an idea of what proposals are actually meeting your customer needs. Low conversion rates mean that many of your proposals are falling to customers who aren’t interested, and it points to problems higher up the chain.
Yield is important. It often takes the same effort to get low value deals closed as it does the larger ones, so revenue per deal will give you an idea if you are focusing on delivering the right levels of deals to customers who can invest the most.
There's no right answer here:
- Small deals in large numbers underpin your business security
- Large deals can drive profitability and provide a platform for growth
Gross Revenue is critical to measure to see if you are generating enough income to maintain your company growth, and typically will be linked to performance incentives.
Gross Profit will measure whether your deals are actually making profit for the company. If you’re losing money on every deal, then you won’t be improving the fortunes of your business, but driving it into the ground.
Once you've set those goals, score your performance against them on a weekly basis and keep a record.
Accountability and up to date records are simply a measure of whether you are achieving the goals you set in your initial plan, and whether you are making them transparent to others.
Whilst you don’t want to create an unnecessary administrative workload, if you don’t feel willing to be accountable it is often because you’re not proud of your performance or you’re worried what the figures may say.
Either way, this is a cause for concern, so even if you’re working on your own as opposed to being part of a team, do your records, keep your paperwork up to date, and be the rational successful sales person that we know will win the day.
Whether you choose to make them public is up to you.
League tables for teams are a double edged sword. Used correctly they provide a competitive basis for improvement, used badly they become a source of stress and can damage motivation.
So that should give you a few key metrics to set from the start:
- Dress Code
- External Meetings
- Conversion Rate
- Gross Revenue
- Gross Profit
- League Tables
Tracking these foundation targets should equip you with the measurements necessary to focus on great performance in all of these areas, and ensure you a firm foundation for substantial rewards and a high-flying career.