When asked how many new prospecting calls the Inside Sales team made each day, the Director of Sales of a client firm proudly stated that every team on her sales team made 40 calls a day. When I asked her how she knew that, she stated confidently that “she hears them” as she sits in the bullpen with them. “They all know that 40 calls is the number of calls they need to make and that’s what they do.” Oh, really?
This is a common reaction to classic selling activities across organizations. Some manager at some point in the past has declared a number of, you name it, phone calls, demos, meetings, proposals, mailings, etc., etc., that the sales team is to make each hour, day, week, month, or quarter. That becomes the magic number or mantra for the sales organization for a range of time until someone comes along and changes it or challenges it. Many firms and reps don’t know just how valuable these metrics actually are, but often they become unrealistic, onerous, or useless hurdles at which the team winks or rolls their eyes.
I learned long ago that every business has key sales activity metrics, which once discovered can drive one to consistent excellence in sales performance or management of a team’s performance. In every sales territory I’ve managed I’ve sought to understand key selling activities, their appropriate dose, and their yield. I recommend setting up a 30-Day Activity Measurement Plan. There are three steps:
• Identify 4–6 Top Selling Activities—actions such as prospecting phone calls, customer meetings, conference calls, demonstrations, emails, proposals, etc. Determine no more than six (you don’t want to track too many or you’ll defeat the purpose here); no fewer than four. These are actions that you or management have deemed important in the selling process of your product or service.
• Assign a Relevant Point Value to Each Activity—for instance, outbound calls might count one point, a meeting might count four points, an outbound email two points, etc. The key is to have a scoring system that is simple and relevant for each of the 4–6 selling activities identified. Don’t over-engineer this; keep it simple and on the honor system if tracking a team.
• Track the Metrics—now track the metrics daily, weekly and quarterly for each of the selling activities. Look for the patterns, trends and ranges in the metrics. See the diagram below for a sample tracking sheet. After just three weeks of tracking you will see clear patterns and norms. Take these to heart as a realistic snapshot of your real activity.
Remember to keep this exercise simple. Don’t over analyze when you’re starting out. Get a foundational benchmark and work from there. There’s value in the truth. When we conducted an Activity Metric study
at that firm doing “40 calls daily” we found that the call volume ranged from 19 to 53 calls per day by the team. The top two reps were making 20 calls daily; the worst performers were making over 40. We captured what the successful reps were doing, replicated it and drove all reps to make at least 25 high quality calls per day.
How’s your activity tracking?