For most sales managers, data isn't a gold mine of opportunity-it's a quagmire of senseless boredom and useless numbers signifying nothing-with one exception, of course, that bottom-line sales number.
Managers who are not working with sales metrics technology have access to a fair amount of data that can help them manage and coach their sales teams more effectively. Although call reports, pipeline reports, customer status reports, and commission reports are far from ideal in terms of compiling specific data on the sales team and individual team members, these reports can if used correctly reveal a substantial amount of data about the health and activities of the team and individual team members.
Those managers who are fortunate enough to have a metrics collection system designed to generate a great deal of information about their team and individual member's sales activities, behavior and results have enormous amounts of specific data that can quickly change the performance of their teams and their salespeople. This data can pinpoint specific coaching and training needs of individuals, reveal new sales opportunities, new prospects, new markets, uncover competitor weaknesses and tendencies, and a great deal of other information that can give the manager and the company competitive advantage and improve the performance of the team members.
Yet, whether or not they are using sales metrics technology or not, sales managers typically focus on one thing only-what their paycheck is based on, the final sales numbers. If it doesn't concern their income, there isn't much attention paid to it. And why should there be? Their compensation plan tells them what their job is, what's important to both them and the company-sales, and more specifically, sales today, this week, this month, this year.
What does this mean for companies who have or are instituting a sales metrics system that generates a great deal of real sales metrics?
1. Companies must invest in training their managers how to analyze and capitalize on the data the system produces.
2. Companies must realign the manager's compensation plan to emphasize all aspects of their responsibilities, not just the bottom-line sales number.
3. Companies must invest in the training and coaching of their salespeople. All the data in the world is useless unless the company is willing to take steps to help the salesperson obtain the training and coaching needed to correct and improve skills.
4. Managers must expand their thinking about what their responsibilities are and seek out specific training and coaching on their own. No longer can managers take the financial and market analysis responsibilities contained in their job description lightly, nor can they continue to sidestep the advanced coaching and training responsibilities of their position. To prepare themselves for performing these activities, managers will have to invest in their training just as their salespeople must invest in theirs.
5. Companies must reexamine whom they promote into management. No longer will they be able to use a promotion into management as a reward for high sales numbers. Promotions will have to be based on management potential, not sales ability.
Companies who want to successfully use sales metrics technology will have to take steps to ensure the systems work to their fullest potential and for most companies that means radical changes in how their managers manage, how they are compensated, how they are selected, and how they are trained.
The Management Curve is a blog dedicated to discussion and debate about the impact sales metrics programs such as CRM, Sales Performance Management and Sales Force Automation Programs are having and will have on how the sales function is managed. Hosted by Paul McCord, the blog also features articles and commentary by other sales trainers, consultants, product developers, and the sales managers and salespeople who actually use the products.