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What to Measure in Challenging Times

Many companies, maybe even yourself, are experiencing a slow-down in sales and revenue. Some companies are thriving due to the need for their products and services during this time. Very few companies are 'business as usual.' Realities change week-by-week if not even more frequently. So, how does this affect your critical metrics in sales? What should you be measuring? How often?

Your new metrics

Good sales leaders will tell you that you need to be looking at leading indicators to get a good grip on your business. If you look at results only, you won't have a pulse of what is happening right now. It is merely an indication of the things that happened weeks or months ago that have come to fruition. Looking at results is like looking at a scoreboard at the end of a game. You’ve either won or lost, and there are no adjustments you can make to correct it. This Salesforce article talks about which leading indicators to examine. 

With the world upturned with the COVID-19 crisis, what should you be measuring? Is it any different than before? With things like demand increasing or decreasing, companies cutting expenses, people working from home, and focus shifting, the strategies you established at the start of the year may need to be thrown out the window. Now more than ever, you need to try new things, measure effectiveness, adjust, and keep rinsing and repeating until you find something that works. If you want more on strategic planning, check out our blog on “Strategic Planning - Why Companies Do It Wrong.”

Here are some things to consider:

Activity

Activity is vital to measure always. But now, it may be a good idea to get more granular. Start by determining your two to three key activity metrics. Is it calls? Emails? Demos? Webinar attendees? Discovery meetings? Determine what are the right metrics for your company and set goals for your people around them. Many are now working from home rather than doing face-to-face meetings. These metrics will be new to them. Work with them to set their goals.

Increased Close Rates

If close rates are down (and they are for many), you may need to increase activity to make up for the close rate. Set new goals each week for your team based on what is happening and monitor trends.

Decreased Close Rates

If close rates are way up (some industries are thriving right now), you may not want to take anything and everything coming at you rather, focus on your priority customers to make sure you are taking care of them during these times.

Additional Metrics

Look at all of your metrics in a more segmented manner:

  • Are your salespeople having more success in one industry vs. another? Success could be defined as more discussions or opportunities generated – not just sales. If so, refocus them on finding more opportunities in those segments. Likewise, if they are getting shut down in some segments, redirect them away from those segments.
  • Is there a sweet spot in the size of companies where you are having success? Focus on those companies.
  • Are one or more of your products in more or less demand.  Re-adjust your focus towards those products as applicable.
  • It is crucial to understand your metrics so you can make timely adjustments.

Inspect your team's work - often

As the sales leader, you'll want to make sure you're inspecting your team's work to ensure they are doing the right things, making adjustments as follows:

  • If your leading indicator (activity or qualified opportunities, or whatever you choose) is off, help the salesperson focus on activity. Manage their time, make sure they have target lists to call, make sure they are not spending time on "non-revenue" things like meetings or customer service.
  • If their close rate is off, help them with targeting the ideal customers, getting to decision-makers, doing a better job at discovery, getting commitments, etc. One suggestion is to help them focus their calls on their client’s or prospect’s specific business needs – not just product or service needs.  That will be a shift for some. 
  • If their Average Deal Size is low, focus on who they should target (may need to focus on more prominent clients), whether they are discounting, whether they present all applicable offerings vs. just the easiest thing to sell, etc.
  • If you see trends in the industry, product, company size and so on, find out why and then refocus the rest of the team if it makes sense.

Your coaching focus and methods depend on reviewing these metrics. Without them, you are flying blind, and it's hard to figure out what is needed to succeed. In this world that seems to change by the day, you should be looking at this data daily. Get feedback from the team. Share ideas. You and your team are in unchartered waters right now. They are looking for direction, and metrics and data can be your best friend in determining what direction to give them.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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