If you’re a job shop owner or senior manager, you know how important it is to measure shop floor activity and output to have a real-time understanding of productivity and performance. You’ve probably reminded everyone in the organization that we can “only manage what we measure,” and that’s why you’ve made it a priority to create and analyze shop floor performance metrics through the combination of processes, policies, technology, communication, and rewards.
If you know that measurement and reporting help you manage and improve shop floor performance, what’s kept you from applying the same principles to your sales team? Plenty of sales managers allow themselves to be reassured that quotas are all sales people really need, but isn’t that like a certain NFL head coach thinking he’s prepared his quarterback by telling him “Just win, Aaron!”
We all understand implicitly that we can elevate performance in any field by creating processes that should produce better results, establishing standard expectations around adherence to those processes, and then measuring and reporting on behaviors in support of the processes. So it’s only natural that we should aspire to apply this same discipline to sales management.
Here’s a simple roadmap to get you started:
- Codify sales processes as best practices. Bring your best sales people together to share what they view as the right processes to yield the best results. This can be kept very simple in the beginning, such as agreeing on what constitutes a qualified lead, and what the necessary steps are to get a lead to a buy decision.
- Set Standard Protocols. Agree as a team about how to segment leads, how quickly leads are contacted, the sequencing of email versus phone contacts, how much time between contacts, what content you’ll share at different points in the process, and anything else that your team identifies as important activities.
- Decide What to Measure. This can be delicate, especially for very experienced sales people, but it’s important that the team agrees that to manage the process for improved performance you have to measure how people are progressing with leads. That’s where a CRM tool can be helpful and valuable, because used properly it can be the simplest way to both encourage the right behaviors and actions, and measure team performance. As the team gets engaged and more skilled using the CRM and reporting on their progress, you should be able to develop a Pipeline Report that measures the volume of opportunities. This is a huge step forward for most sales teams because it measures the future value of their selling efforts today.
- Set Communication Expectations. How you communicate, especially since this should be 360-degree communication, will be influenced by your current culture, but it also represents an opportunity to begin affecting cultural norms, especially around transparency. Plenty of sales managers recognize this is the best time to introduce open team communications about performance versus standards; done with subtlety and sensitivity, this can be a great positive experience to rally the team around an opportunity to take performance (and compensation) to new levels.
Sales people by nature are extremely competitive. That’s why sales contests that focus on the upside possibilities are usually effective at gaining short-term engagement. It’s also why a well-intentioned and well-executed sales reporting approach can be very powerful at taking your team to the next level. Reporting shines the light on those activities and behaviors that lead to better performance, and good teams can become great when you help them concentrate more on what matters most.
There are a number of resources out there to help job shops and contract manufacturers—including the team at Wipfli. Our manufacturing experts understand your business and can help you set and measure sales reporting goals.