MORE ACTIVITY = GREATER SALES?
Part 2 of the piLYTIX Sports series “Challenging Conventional Wisdom”
50 calls a day? Great idea!
100? Even better!
And so goes the conventional wisdom in most sports sales organizations. Sports sales management has long been driven by a belief that “More activity equals more sales; if we ensure universally high call volume, we will ensure the highest levels of sales.”
This mindset has been the driving philosophy that has led most teams to mandate a set level of expected daily prospect calls. Obviously, there is nothing objectionable about encouraging people who were hired to sell to actually do their jobs. However, too many sports teams have overly simplified these metrics and overemphasized the role they play in their sales strategies. The execution of these plans almost always morphs into management by numbers and results in unintended consequences:
– Lower performing reps tend to waste time entering bogus opportunities, fudging bad data, and calling the same prospects over and over regardless of whether there is anything indicating a purchase possibility. Presumably this is to appease the manager who is driving the team to basic activity metrics. Less time is focused on preparing for better calls with better qualified leads and opportunities.
– Higher performing sales reps tend to have a laser-like focus on achievement: getting the next sale, achieving the next rung in the commission ladder, hitting their sales quotas. They loathe the micromanagement that typically accompanies activity-based management. Focusing on activity levels fixes a problem that doesn’t exist for these employees. Some of these reps will do the bare minimum required to keep their managers off their backs. Others will actually waste a few hours here or there spamming emails or making dials to people that they have no reason to believe will buy. However, the most common response for these reps is to ignore the direction of the manager. This simultaneously undermines the manager and suggests that there is an organizational double standard. in the organization.
– The combination of the first two points ensures that the team’s CRM system is a swamp of bad data, making it more difficult to extract actionable intelligence from the CRM.
– Not all activities are the same for all reps. Certain reps are smooth as silk on the phone; others get tongue-tied with nervousness, unable to articulate a clear message when a prospect answers the phone. Certain reps write very compelling emails; others make you question whether their schools had any writing requirements to graduate. Certain reps are magicians when they are in front of prospects; others are better off hanging back at the office when prospect events are taking place.
Despite the obvious presence of inherent personality differences and relative strengths and weaknesses, every one of these profiles can close a lot of business! Activity-based management strategies that fail to incorporate the nuances that define each individual rep prevent teams from maximizing the financial impact that each rep can have on the organization.
Sports is finally beginning to break free from this “dial-until-your-fingers-bleed” management philosophy. The most cutting-edge leaders recognize that strict adherence to rigid activity metrics ultimately sacrifices quality for quantity. These leaders are leveraging their sales and marketing data to learn about the patterns of success and failure for each rep – these patterns of success being heavily influenced by inherent strengths and weaknesses of the individual. These defining characteristics often relate to specific communication behaviors – positioning managers to easily define more appropriate customized activity metrics.
More importantly, sales leaders who understand their sales and marketing data understand that sales activity – important as it is – is only one component of sales success. Buyer attributes and behaviors, product attributes, price points and other elements of the sales process are also driving characteristics that cannot be excluded when defining a sales strategy. None of these – including activity metrics – should be looked at in a silo. However, sales leaders who understand their teams’ patterns of success and failure are optimally positioned to align their organizations for greater sales success while minimizing costs.