Sales performance always occurs simultaneously on two parallel playing fields. One eye is on the sales outcomes, the other is on the sales activities that get you there.
Outcomes versus activities are the same as goals versus tactics. Now, you cannot imagine a sales contest without outcomes, but perhaps sales managers should pay more attention to the sales activities that make the sales outcomes possible.
Corporate leaders hire or appoint sales managers with a mandate to “hit their numbers.” Managers are expected to produce quantifiable results. Not helping much, they also demand reduced costs, travel expenses, and minimal turnover among their sales people. Dollars! Dollars! Dollars!
Nothing is going to change this way of doing business. And, it does make sense for corporate managers to ask their managers to target outcomes because business is a profit and loss world. So, reps should expect some of this targeting to carry over into the assessment of their performance.
Finding sales outcomes in sales activities
Sales outcomes should be shared with the reps if the outcomes are clear, concise, and visible. While outcomes are hard, measurable, end-results, activities are tactics used to deliver the sales outcomes. According to Gigaom, sales productivity is “the value of a certain outcome dividend by cost of the activities use to achieve it – simply put, the return on your investment (ROI).” These include sales contests, CRM updates, timely expense reports, qualified referrals, unscheduled calls, customer networking, and more. Manager able to drive to these activities will post positive outcomes.
Free with employee recognition
The successful sales manager is free with employee recognition. Some of that certainly comes in the form of compensation, bonuses, and sales contest awards. There are days off, dinners out, and certificates awarded. But, employee recognition also comes in less obvious but more crucial moments and forms.
- Sales performance assessments should be more than a routine annual thing. The manager – who can assess performance at the beginning and end of a competition and, then, score that performance in behaviors done right and behaviors done wrong – stands a better chance of changing that rep’s behavior.
- Unscheduled calls will lead to more closes when the manager accompanies or assists the sale person on that call. On site, the manager can also demonstrate how to network productively and secure qualified referrals.
- Customer retention management systems require timely and constant attention. Managers who follows the CRM data can help a representative locate and follow-up on leads, reduce customer complaints, and develop productive relationships.
Sales contests accomplish more than when they are simply wind sprints. Keep one eye on the sales outcomes, and the other on the sales activities that get you there.
The successful manager focused on sales performance does more than fire the starting pistol. S/he will coach each player through the activities that mark each phase and benchmark towards desired sales outcomes. This gives purpose and direction to activities, clues and cues to winning. It is this very gamification that makes sales careers fun, engaging, and productive.
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