SPM Ch. 1: The Problem with Sales Performance Data
The art of selling has shifted dramatically with time and technology. Half a century ago – and really until after the year 2000 – selling was held as an “art” or natural ability, and good salespeople were thought to be born, not made — meaning supervision was not necessary. Oh, how times have changed.
Meanwhile, since the mid-2000s there has been a massive switch to inside sales, and as technology continues to develop, deals are being handled, signed, and rolled out remotely by highly trained sales reps.
Yet, even with this transition, and two decades after the emergence of the internet, the phone is still the most reliable and cost-effective way for companies to interact with their customers and prospects.
In 2017, The Boston Consulting Group found that 65% of people preferred to contact a business by a phone call, versus 24% who preferred to fill out a web form. Further, 64% of customer interactions were by phone in 2017 (Deloitte Global Contact Center Survey).
If properly utilized, call activity between reps and prospects is one of the most valuable assets that a company can leverage, serving as the 21st-century form of visibility into the behaviors of mobile or dispersed reps.
Managing the Performance of a Dispersed Sales Team
However, making the most of the data generated by your sales team is not that simple considering the nature of teams today – with remote team structures, branch locations, and an ever-growing base of devices and/or networks through which reps can do business.
The number of telecommuters has increased by 800% in the past five years, and the influx of mobile communication and workforces becoming increasingly remote has made the ability of a sales manager to manage their team increasingly more difficult.
Trying to adapt to this challenge, managers have relied on guesswork in the form of pipeline reports, error-prone or skewed self-reported activity data, and close rates to predict agent performance. However, gathering field intelligence through one-on-ones, ad hoc check-ins, and less than accurate CRM data is no longer enough when the technology exists to produce actual, specific numbers.
Up to 60% of CRM data can be inaccurate due to false reporting and human error. Although managers still rely on CRM, its adoption is still highly subjective since interaction can vary dramatically from team member to team member. As a result, the CRM doesn’t lend itself to a highly accurate portrayal of cross-team performance in a dispersed environment.
Managing Sales Performance Using Standard Data Practices
If you can’t accurately manage your entire team, the chances are that underperforming reps may slip through the cracks. The truth is, even a team with a few superstars will not be as capable if managers can only count on a handful of reps to generate a large percentage of their revenue.
This example is where the Pareto Principle — or the 80/20 rule — comes into play. The concept of the Pareto Principle is that 20 percent of your causes obtain 80 percent of your effects. In other words, 80 percent of your company’s revenue is produced by 20 percent of your sales team. This style of management is plaguing sales teams today.
The reliance on a small percentage of your large sales team to generate most of your revenue is a direct consequence stemming from a lack of insight into daily selling activity patterns. Managers who lack accurate phone data must obtain visibility into their teams’ call activity. If they can’t they won’t be able to coach to any measurable standard and will struggle to improve team performance.