A Sales Speaker advises you to 'Run your Numbers'… don't 'Run After' Sales Quota
Imagine for a moment that it is your first day in a new sales organization and your sales manager tells you to forget about Quota - block it out of your mind. You may think they're out of their mind. How can anyone possibly lead a sales organization or manage their individual sales effectively without focusing on Quota?
After all, in the world of outside sales, you either meet your Quota or eventually you'll be outside the door looking to meet some other sales force's quota.
But what if I told you that's the first step toward exponential revenue growth. Sales success is not about running after quota each month or year. Success comes from a Process; proven steps to meet benchmarked competency levels and a focus on the essential elements and powerful routines that maximize your sales effectiveness week in and week out.
Let's first define what we mean by a "core competency." We will then introduce the 3 Core Competencies, and spend our time understanding how they can dramatically increase your success.
The term Core Competencies refers to those essential elements in the sales process that most directly impact your success. These elements are controllable and measurable, and sales professionals can be trained to be proficient in these areas. Unfortunately, many sales organizations and individuals lose focus - distracted by peripheral activities or sophisticated systems that track dozens of different activities when only a handful really matters.
Without a foundation built upon these essential elements or Core Competencies, and because of all the distractions and roadblocks an organization is susceptible to today, results can be mediocre or less.
Take a look at the following list of actions that are common in a sales process, and select the items that you believe are absolutely essential to your success.
- Closing Sales
- Developing Prospect Lists
- Setting new Business Appointments
- Running 1st Appointments
- Working Sales Prospects through the Sales Pipeline
- Post-Sale Marketing
- Developing Referrals
- Reporting and Paperwork
- Documenting Testimonials
Now many of these tasks are important, but they are not all Core Competencies. Yes, it is important and useful to ask for referrals and develop testimonials from satisfied customers, but your success hinges mostly on the mastery of - and attention to - the (3) Core Competencies.
One simple way to determine whether a routine or task is truly a core competency is to ask what activities are directly related to sales revenue. After all, sales revenue is how we sales people measure success. That's our scorecard at the end of the month.
We can do that through a series of questions around each element listed above.
Is it an essential component to the sales mission or is it just an ingredient in the recipe?
Consider a golfer's essential competencies from tee-off to last putt. Is the core competency the ball - or the club? Or is it the golf swing and putting stroke?
Can it be measured routinely and accurately with a napkin, pencil, and calculator?
Can you set a realistic performance benchmark tied to revenue goals? You know you have achieved this when you can tell a new hire in the sales organization the (3) simple numbers that will guarantee monthly sales success.
Can you apply "Timely Training" and "Powerful Routines" around each core competency?
We know what 'sales training' is, but do we understand why sales training fails?
'Timely training' is NOT a seminar or one-time event. It requires appropriate structures for learning and application, defining useful short-term objectives, measuring progress, working closely with qualified trainers for follow-up and support, and most importantly, organizational commitment. 'Timely training' is focused on one competency at a time until the appropriate milestone performance metric is realized.
So, if you can say it is directly tied to revenue (or your end result), is a skill set that can be trained to for improvement and can be measured, consider it a Core Sales Competency.
Perhaps a golf analogy will help illustrate the power of the Business of Core Competencies. A self-professed "poor" golfer with a chronic slice might attempt to correct the problem by adjusting his stance - actually aiming away from the fairway so that the slice hopefully lands the ball in the middle.
In contrast, a low handicap golfer with a chronic slice might address the problem by adjusting their grip, rotating their hips, or adjusting the arc of their swing. In other words, good golfers address the core competencies of the swing vs. adjusting peripheral elements.
So what are the 3 Core Competencies?
Core Sales Competency 1: Conversation to Appointment Ratio.
Don't worry if you have never heard of let alone 'measured or trained to' this sales competency because if you haven't you're in the majority… not the minority.
Your 'conversation to appointment ratio' is how many conversations you must conduct with target prospects to achieve 1 new sales appointment.
The national average is in the 4-18% range. That is, most sales individuals have about 10-25 conversations to book 1 or 2 new sales appointments. That's why the sales competency of setting new targeted business appointments is the Achilles heel of most sales organizations.
In fact, that's why I travel the country showing sales people and sales management how to improve this critical sales competency so they spend a lot less time to achieve more targeted appointments.
Once this competency is improved beyond your competitors, the benefits are more revenue in less time, less sales employee turnover due to low sales appointment activity and a quicker ramp-to-quota for new hire sales reps.
Core Sales Competency 2: 1st Appointment to Proposal Ratio
What's the objective of your first sales appointment?
Have you defined what you want to happen at the conclusion of your 1st appointment? Only then can you actually set up a proficient sales methodology to achieve the defined objective more times than not. And with a pre-defined objective to your 1st appointment you can (1) set a realistic benchmark of success and (2) measure the outcome. It becomes part of your sales performance scorecard.
What is a 1st appointment to proposal ratio? It's simply how many times you gain commitment with your prospect to take the next step, as outlined by your sales process. Depending on your solutions-based product or service and your sales methodology, your 'Next step' may be one of the following:
• An on-site demonstration
• A trial period of your "widget"
• A tour of your operations or manufacturing facility
• A no-obligation survey
• An evaluation and side-by-side comparison, apples to apples
• A solution-based evaluation, apples to oranges
Whatever your 'Gateway' is, be sure to attach a business rule and definition to it, and then most importantly measure it.
Defining and measuring this 'Gateway' will provide you with a 'Reality Mirror' of how competent you are with the initial phase of your sales process.
So if you have set a realistic benchmark company-wide of a 60% 1st Appointment to Proposal ratio and you have sales individuals below it, you can pro-actively provide them with targeted coaching and support tools to help them achieve the standard benchmark. And that drives more revenue.
Core Sales Competency 3: Closing Ratio
The Closing ratio is the number of proposals that result in new sales.
As a sales professional, your objective is to educate a prospect throughout the sales process so that the prospect can make an informed and clear buying decision. Your goal is to lead the prospect through every gateway and ultimately reach a legitimate 'yes' or 'no' at the end of the sales process.
Identifying (3) key Core sales competencies is different from the superficial values so prevalent in sales organizations today, such as "a relentless focus on quota" or "a superior drive to succeed" or other such motivational mantras. The trouble is the mantras usually lack depth and substance.
First identify your critical core sales competencies that are tied to routine sales success.
Your next step is to set realistic benchmarks to these sales competencies and finally, develop pin-point sales performance training and support systems to allow the majority of your sales force to be routinely 'sales quota' savvy.
About the author: Jeff Hardesty is a National sales speaker, Sales performance improvement consultant and the Developer of the X2 Sales System®, a blended sales prospecting training system that teaches sales professionals the competency of setting targeted C-level business appointments.
Author: Jeff Hardesty
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