“Keep your nose to the grindstone.” “There is no substitute for hard work.” “Just do it!”
These phrases (the first dating to 1532; the others attributable to Thomas Edison and Nike) would make you believe that all you have to do is work hard and be persistent and you will succeed. But there is another school of thought that says you should work smarter, not harder. Where these two ideologies meet you will likely find the principle of Activity Management. So, what is Activity Management? And how do using key indicators and metrics help you stay on track for sales success? Read on to find out…
Activity Management is, essentially, the principle of working hard on the right things. More than that, perhaps, it speaks to the concept of balance, of doing the right things in the right measures. Activity Management is a strategy that provides a blueprint for how to build your success in sales and sales management.
By identifying and focusing on the right mix of activities that can help you achieve your goals, Activity Management helps you manage your time and optimize efficiency. It not only helps you be more productive, but also can help you work strategically to keep your pipeline full and your closing rate high.
Activity Management doesn’t just happen, of course. Rather, it results from focusing on doing the right things, measuring the right things, and making adjustments based on what you learn.
Doing the Right Things
Sales is, at its core, about process. You prospect, you build relationships, you propose solutions, you close the deal, you manage the account, you gain referrals, and so on. Ideally, selling is like a perpetual motion machine. If you do the right things in the right measure, success follows. What’s more, success breeds success, meaning that more business comes to you more easily. Of course, if you don’t follow a well-defined process, any changes you make will be “shots in the dark”.
Even with a process, however, if you aren’t doing the right things as part of your sales and sales management processes, you end up spinning your wheels and wasting time. Yes, you might be busier than busy and giving each day your full effort, but are you truly being productive? Are you really making progress?
To answer those questions, you’ll need to quantify your performance. As I note in my book, Beyond the Mountaintop: Observations on Selling, Living and Achieving, “Good sales data may cause you to change your behavior so your efforts are not wasted. Once you understand the activities you should focus on, you can devote more time and energy to these areas. Ultimately, it will help you make better decisions.”
In other words, the right sales and sales management processes matter; but making sure you are following the right processes depends on measuring the right things.
Measuring the Right Things
Most salespeople and Sales Managers use metrics. Their CRM system provides snapshots of progress and performance. Unfortunately, most sales metrics are little more than post-mortems. They are backward-looking rather than being meaningful in real-time; AND they often don’t truly matter to reaching the ultimate goal. The way most salespeople use metrics is to validate activity, not productivity. It is the challenge and responsibility of the Sales Manager, on the other hand, to make sure metrics are in place to measure productivity and real progress toward sales goals. For that to happen, the Sales Manager needs to understand and manage both leading and lagging Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Leading indicators are predictive measurements. As I say in my book, they “are the ‘warning lights’ that something isn’t working or something has gone wrong. These warning lights allow you the opportunity to intervene before it is too late… [and] take corrective measures.” Not having enough prospects in the pipeline, or not spending enough time on prospecting, could be leading indicators for future dips in sales. Leading indicators empower you to be proactive and ward off a sales crisis before it happens.
Lagging indicators, on the other hand, give you a look in the rear view mirror. This perspective can be somewhat valuable, too, and you can, and should, take corrective actions based on what you learn from “after the fact” data. But lagging indicators only enable you to be reactive. Again, they are tantamount to an autopsy. They help you see what went wrong, but cannot help you avoid the problem before it is too late. Lagging indicators might include quarterly sales data, such as deals that have actually closed during the period. This is good information to track; it’s just not that helpful in real-time.
Working hard matters. Working smart matters even more. That’s why Activity Management should be part of your mindset and overall sales strategy.
At Sales Xceleration, we have found that carefully managing sales activity by balancing your leading and lagging KPIs can help you do the right things in the right measure to achieve the best results. Our proven sales systems are designed with those goals and Activity Management in mind.
Want to learn more about Activity Management and how it can boost productivity and results? Reach out to an Advisor today, or contact us at 1-844-874-7253.