In physics, I learned for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For example, if you stand on a sled and throw a snowball forward, the sled will start moving slowly backwards in proportion to the mass of the snowball and sled. In sales, our actions produce revenue, in direct proportion to the mass of actions we do.
The number of actions (activities) a telephone salesperson can do in a day is dependent on how much “back office” work they are required to perform. Typically, telephone salespeople will make in the neighborhood of 60 dials in a day and talk to twelve customers. An experienced salesperson will receive about 1/3rd of their calls inbound, so they will talk to another five customers who will call them. A sales manager should watch dials, conversations, and inbound calls.
Sales managers can also watch the sales funnel, or the number of customers at each stage of the sales cycle. This can be a great management tool, and problems can be spotted long before they show up in disappointing revenue numbers. For example, say you have a sales cycle of four steps; first, the representative uncovers a need; second, they conduct a screen share with the prospective customer to display a PowerPoint with relevant information; third, they provide a quotation and close the sale. The fourth step is customers who haven’t said no, but haven’t said yes after reviewing the quotation. These are folks who want to think about it.
A manager can use the customer relationship management to track the sales funnel, and can use historical estimates of the percentage of customers who advance to the next step to make predictions of revenue. The manager can also look at trouble spots where a representative may be struggling against benchmarks established by his or her peers. Salespeople should be doing enough activities (screen shares, quotations and closing calls) to keep the sales funnels clearing.
I recommend each telephone representative have a Personal Business Plan which states not only the revenue expected, but also the activities required to hit those revenue targets. When a salesperson goes to work in the morning, they often can’t control the revenue delivered that day, that is also up to customers. However, they can control the actions they take each day, and over time, these actions will lead to sales success.
In my management career, I have often had salespeople who fall into a slump, where revenue does not meet either my or their expectations. A review of the sales actions shows however, they are making the dials and managing their sales funnels. And sure enough, sales soon pick up. Others may be delivering revenue, but activity measurements are flashing warning signs – danger, low sales ahead. Measuring activities daily can provide an early warning of trouble, or a reassurance that a slump is temporary, and the quarter will end up just fine.
So, salespeople, throw out a bunch of sales snowballs and get moving!