Are You Measuring Sales Activity Wrong?
In the first two months of this year, the topic of sales activity tracking and what type of activity advertising sellers should be doing keep popping up. What’s my sales team doing? Are they doing the right things? Is there enough volume? Is it making an impact? How can we get quality data? These are simple questions but perpetually difficult to answer.“I can’t wait to write up all the details of my daily activities in a CRM tool tonight while watching The Bachelor”, said no seller ever.So why is this so challenging? My hypothesis is 1-there’s too much useless data, 2-there’s not enough data, or 3- you don’t have the right data. In a past life at a big publisher we focused our sales teams on seven important in-person meetings per week. We published guidelines on what qualified, we even had MBO’s tying seller bonuses to how well they met these. The one thing it definitely did was put a focus on tracking meetings and driving quantity. The missing piece of insight was whether it drove quality as well. If we go back to core principles on sales activity this can be simplified into two buckets - prospecting activity and activity to advance deals. Using this framework, revisit the original questions about sales activities with these three steps.1. What problem needs solving - do we have a prospecting issue? Is the pipeline too small? Do we keep losing RFPs at XYZ agency, where are deals getting stuck or lost? Are we having trouble selling a particular product? Align the activity metrics around creating pipeline and/or around advancing deals.2. What are the right Prospecting metrics - In media sales, teams tend to fall into hunter or farmer groups. In either case sit down with your top 5 sellers and determine what and how they do this. Encourage them to help you get the data so you can profile what good looks like. From this you can determine what the successful mix of activity type, quantity and quality looks like. You just might find out your farmer calling on Starcom is crushing it with Barry’s and Soul Cycle meetings to build pipeline. Far too often sales managers fall back on driving quantity only to find out that didn’t solve the problem. The goal here is to back into a conversion formula to build qualified pipeline - how much quality activity does it take to generate a specific amount of pipeline. One of my favorite metrics is New Pipeline Added per Month - this is a great way to find out which sellers are effective at prospecting. Perhaps farmers should be doing two Proactive Pitches per week to under-penetrated accounts or targeting cross-sell meetings to activate new products.3. What are the right Deal Advancing Metrics - the best practice is to create a buyer driven sales process that aligns to the buyer’s steps to making a purchase. In each pipeline stage there should be Major Interactions (MI). These are the quality activities you know that advance a deal such as conducting a campaign objectives discussion, feedback on the proposal, feedback on pricing, etc.This is all common sense, so how do you apply it? One simple way after you’ve determined what good prospecting looks like and what your MI’s are is to set goals. Use a balanced approach mixing prospecting and deal advancement, this will help drive long term pipeline creation and deal progression. An example is hunters should do X type of prospecting activities per week AND Y Major Interactions per week. When you focus too much on just one part of their role like closing a big pipeline with MI’s you end up with a depleted pipeline setting yourself up for a disappointing future quarter. Sellers need to dedicate time every day to prospect AND advance deals. A sales secret I learned last year from a high performing seller and sales performance consulting guru is - dedicate an hour a day to prospect and don’t let anything interrupt. His pipeline was always big enough to make his number - the harder you work, the luckier you get.There’s one final category of activity tracking we hear a lot - “I want all my sellers emails in my CRM”. Ok, building a history of all communication is great for a lot of reasons but when it includes everything, the 30 replies on a single email thread like “Thanks”, “Talk soon” - the signal to noise ratio kills the benefits.As you determine your next steps with providing guidance for what the right activities should be and how they’re done, try this approach. Tailor it to your teams and roles. Focus on what problem you want to solve and measure progress, promote what works and provide as much automation to your sellers to get the right data. And reach out, would love to hear what’s working.