Sales managers in sports organizations must analyze the processes of their most successful salespeople to teach down the sales board, but while also looking at each rep independently, regardless of position on the board. It’s a scientific approach, but it doesn’t require as much data as one might think.
Out of all the articles I’ve written for SEAT Magazine, by far the most feedback I receive stems from the one entitled “You Can Knock the Hustle” (Fall 2015). The part that gets people asking questions comes at the end, when I say that there are innovative ways that businesses are looking at individual rep analytics to help make each of their salespeople more efficient. Fairly, I have been asked how to actually do this exercise, so let us investigate.
Go Beyond Hustle Metrics
First, it is important to define the conversation. For years, sales reps have first been measured by revenue and then by “hustle metrics”. Hustle metrics vary team by team, but most include phone calls made, telephone talk time, and meetings attended. More advanced teams have incorporated social media reach, social media engagement, and email analytics. These are all fantastic sources of information, but sales managers tend to use them to judge one rep versus another rep, versus the rest of the team.
“Management frequently does not have insight as to what processes separate an overachieving sales rep at the top of the sales leaderboard, as opposed to a sales rep continually below quota.”
– Joshua Tillman, DialSource
No matter how many data points you are using, it is highly inefficient to judge an individual sales rep based on the data of an overall team of salespeople. Not only does every rep sound different when they are having their highest levels of success, every sales rep takes different actions when they are having their highest levels of success. A team must look for commonalities in their most successful salespeople to teach down the board, while also taking a look at each rep independently to help make them as efficient as possible regardless of position on the sales board.
Let us also make sure to understand that these analytics will not be focused on helping your top salespeople make dramatic increases. In the vast majority of cases, your top salespeople are your top salespeople for a reason. They have a well-defined process and book of business that allows them to be far more efficient in their actions than most salespeople. There are things we can help point out, but the majority of the findings will be focused on supporting the rest of your sales team.
As the Harvard Business Review points out, “Companies that use a scientific approach to sales force effectiveness have found that reps in the lower quartiles show dramatic improvement, with productivity jumps of 200%.” As sales managers, we should look at our job as removing obstacles for our top salespeople, but then as using analytics to define the process as we move down the sales board.
Don’t Wait for Perfect Data
In more progressive sales organizations, managers take all of these data points (and a few more we will discuss) and sit them side by side with rep numbers over time. They are then able to use the data to paint a picture of what the reps were doing when they set up their biggest successes next to what the top salespeople on the team do for their processes. This picture creates an overall process that reps can replicate to continue to achieve high levels of success.
One of the biggest challenges for pro sports teams right off the bat is not believing in the data they have. I have had people reach out to me and say that they just do not have the capacity to track the information.
As piLYTIX CEO Jim Dries says, “Organizations have made the mistake of believing that unless they have the perfect data, they won’t be able to use data analytics to help individual reps close more business.”
The majority of pro sports teams do have enough data to get started. Create a dashboard of each rep’s social engagement, call metrics, meetings attended, email analytics, etc. Then take a look at his or her sales completed. What common themes can be found when each rep makes a sale? What common themes can be found for the top salespeople when they make their sales?
CRM Is for Everyone
Another big challenge for pro sports teams is that for the information they can track, there is no incentive for reps to track it accurately. So while it is important to start somewhere, we are still not getting rep buy-in to why it is important to be diligent with a CRM system.
Create a dashboard of each rep’s social engagement, call metrics, meetings attended, email analytics, etc. Then take a look at his or her sales completed. What common themes can be found when each rep makes a sale? What common themes can be found for the top salespeople when they make their sales?
As DialSource CEO Joshua Tillman says, “Management frequently does not have insight as to what processes separate an overachieving sales rep at the top of the sales leaderboard, as opposed to a sales rep continually below quota.”
Managers need to educate their salespeople that the better the effort they put into CRM, the more the sales reps can benefit from it. Reps tend to believe that CRM is being done only for the management team. But the entire sales team can benefit from individual rep analysis, while the middle to bottom of the revenue board can identify areas for opportunity to grow based on what the top of the board is doing that they are not.
With insights from Dries and Tillman, let’s take a look at some data points you have that you may not be using to help define rep process:
Length of time it took to engage: Helping reps define their processes includes understanding how long it takes for them to schedule a meeting. How much effort they put into the front end of the process will lead them to know how much time they need to put in on that side daily, weekly, and monthly to create consistent success in scheduling meetings with businesses. Also, we can then scale across the revenue board. For those that are most efficient in scheduling meetings, what are they doing that the rest of your team is not?
Length of the sales process from discovery meeting to close: From the time the meeting is scheduled, how long is the rep taking to put a proposal on the table and move the sale to a decision? Sports sales reps tend to be overly optimistic in the fact that as long as they are in the conversation, there is a good chance the sale will be made. The fact is that the majority of sales are made not when time passes to allow a decision to be made, but when there are consistent follow-up touchpoints. The more engaged a company is in continuing conversations, the more likely a sale is going to close. This is where length of time of the process and length of time between touchpoints can be used to help a rep understand this notion, as well as define what is the most efficient process a rep can use from meeting through close.
Trends by industry/customer history/lead discovery/etc.: While many sales reps believe that they are great salespeople regardless of what lead is in front of them, the fact is that’s just not true. Steph Curry is a historically great shooter from anywhere on the basketball floor, but he is the best shooter in the history of the game when he shoots from the corners. Sales reps are the same. As good as they may be, there are ways to make them even more efficient by looking at historical trends. If a rep shows that he or she has a higher closing percentage and a shorter sales process when he or she works with law firms, why not make that category a focus for him or her? If a rep has a higher closing percentage and a shorter sales process with self-prospected leads, why not encourage him or her to make those leads a larger part of the process?
Let’s Get After It
These ideas are just a few places where teams can start helping their reps with their processes tomorrow. That said, I highly recommend that sales management teams look at companies that can more easily provide non-biased information that can help support the rep sales process. This current trend lives in the most progressive businesses, but not yet sports. It feels like the perfect time to get after it… 200% improvement is nothing to sneeze at.
How is your team helping individual reps improve their process and performance?
Write to Brett at firstname.lastname@example.org.