Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Defining Sales Success – The Art and Science of A Sales Managed Environment®

Tags: Sales Tracking, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager, how to hit goals in sales

I'm sure someone from the Harvard Business Review or the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business could prove otherwise, but when it comes to defining success, I don’t believe there is an art to it.

Artbusiness.com

  • DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Jorge Luis Borges wrote," Art has become, in the experimental 20th and 21st centuries, impossible to define."
  • Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: "Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold."cat art.png

I don’t have the space to include, and you don’t have time to continue to read, all the articles available when I google "What Makes a Work of Art Successful", so we’ll let these two quotes validate that, when it comes to defining sales success, it is best not to be arbitrary or hope for a consensus.

Science Defined by Merriam Webster:

1:  the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

2a :  a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study the science of theology  b :  something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge have it down to a science.

It is safe to say that if, within your sales managed environment®, you have "defining success" down to a science, then you will be in a better position to identify:

  • Metrics that determine success
  • What leading indicators lead to success (kind of like a math problem – although there are a multitude of formulas you could use to arrive at the number 4, there are probably only a couple that people would use:
    • 2 +2
    • 3 +1
    • The square root of 16
  • Define the goal to be achieved – it’s a number or a definitive outcome.

But…

Maybe there is something beside the math/science that has to go into it.  I’m not sure it’s art (so I would love to hear from you what you think it is…) but here is what’s been noodling in my head for a couple of days.

This basketball season, Northwestern University of the Big Ten Conference, beat Michigan (Sorry, Jack, Mark and Marty...) with a buzzer beater full court pass and short jump shot.  Take a look here:  NCAA Video

In the aftermath, every sportscaster was talking about how this was the most wins in NWU history, it will be the first time EVER that the school has made it to the NCAA tournament and the coach, Chris Collins, has increased the number of wins every year he has been the head coach at the University.  With the win over Michigan, they recorded their 21st win of the season.  This information would lead us to believe that Coach Collins is successful because you are comparing his results to a standard that is generally accepted as success:  Winning 20 games a season and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

The head coach at Columbia University with the most wins is Lou Little.  Lou coached the Lions to 110 victories!  When Coach Ray Tellier retired from Columbia in 2002, the article announcing his retirement declared that he was the 2nd all-time “winningest” coach in Columbia’s history behind Lou Little.  When I read this, I was impressed and happy for him; Coach Tellier was an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut when I played there.

What I didn’t know at the time of the article, but found out later, was that Coach Tellier, over a 13-year period, lead his teams to victory 42 times - a 30.7% winning record.  And he was second on the list at Columbia.  Coach Little, with the most wins, had a winning percentage of 48.8% and averaged just over 4 wins a season over a 26-year career as the head coach at Columbia.

What does this have to do with selling and determining sales success? Everything.

Companies collect lots of data and sales managers do their very best to spin a good story when outcomes are not equal to or greater than expectations (goals).  Here are some examples of how outcomes are described when attempting to put a good spin on a bad outcome:

  • We are trending the right direction
  • Our year over year production is positive
  • We are outperforming our peer group
  • We have gone from #____ in stack ranking to #______
  • We will finish in the top percentile of our district
  • _____% of our team will qualify for incentive compensation

Those descriptions tell you nothing about how a team is actually performing.

What to do instead:

  • Identify metrics that are critical success factors for your organization. (In most organization the #1 metric is revenue – it pays the bills.)
  • Establish standards for those metrics that exceed previous performance levels and are consistent with what the market will allow. (You wouldn’t expect an operating unit in Bangor Maine to produce the same loan revenue as you would an operating unit in Manhattan.)
  • Make sure you are looking at execution metrics so that your success is duplicable and you can identify choke points when there is failure.

Do this now:

  • Call me about Scorecards for sales opportunities – 513.226.3913

Sales and Sales Management Scorecards – How Can They Drive Sales Growth?

Tags: sales performance coaching, predictable sales growth, how to hit goals in sales, salesforce evaluation

SCORECARDS DO NOT DRIVE SALES GROWTH

I don’t believe that scorecards drive sales growth. I say “believe” because I don’t have any definitive proof one way or another and I’m not about to sort through over a million responses from Google search to find out.  But, instead, I will tell you about my experience and exposure to scorecards and the impact they can have.

scorecard.png

TRACKING THE RIGHT INFORMATION FOR IMPROVEMENT

My golf experience would not indicate that scorecards improve my golf game.  However, many years ago, I decided to do more than just keep score.  I also tracked fairways and greens hit in regulation and the number of putts I took on each hole.  (Full disclosure here:  I am a lifetime mid 90s’ golfer which gives me a handicap in the low to mid 20s.) The year I decided to track more information, I set a goal to get under a 20 handicap.  At that time, I didn’t play a lot of golf – no more than 20 times a year, but I managed to end the season at an 18.  I believe that tracking the RIGHT information on the scorecard AND setting a goal AND working to improve metrics are what led to meeting the goal of making improvement.

I’ve been in two meetings this week where scorecards for performance were presented.  One scorecard was really a financial data update reporting on actual performance against goal and year over year.  The other scorecard reported on various initiatives and the current stage of completion. The stages were reported as:

  • Green – on track or completed
  • Yellow – close to being on track or completed
  • Red – not on track to be completed by deadline

THE REASON SCORECARDS DO NOT ALWAYS WORK

When Alan Mullaly left Boeing to take over Ford (see scorecard info), he implemented the Green, Yellow, Red scorecard concept that served him so well at Boeing.  If you read the book, American Icon (a GREAT read, by the way…), you find out one of the reasons they cannot be directly connected to sales growth.  Spoiler alert – not everyone reporting the status of the project is courageous enough to tell the new CEO when his or her project is not on target.

Alan met with the leaders of his production teams every week to get an update on progress being made.  The leaders had to report on what they were responsible for as Green, Yellow or Red.  For months, there was never a Red status on any project.  Alan knew that this could not possibly be true, but he let it ride.  He was certain that, sooner or later, someone in the group was going to step up and be willing to take some bullets.

Sure enough, a car launch that was scheduled for the holiday season was behind schedule and was in jeopardy of missing the launch date entirely.  The manager of that division decided that he’d rather take the bullets now rather than later and so he reported RED!.

(Back to my meeting…)

Nothing on the scorecard was RED.  As I sat there and calculated numbers on some of the various metrics, I saw that the levels of achievement year to date were in the 33% range when, to be on target, they needed to be in the 50% range.  I’m new on the committee, so I was a little uncertain as the newbie and I thought,”Should I speak up?  Is this something that has been addressed before and clarified?  Does the RED indicator show up when something is 30% or less?”  Finally, the gentleman sitting next to me asked the question, “How come we don’t see any RED?” The reasons given to the committee were both evasive and vague. 

HOW TO MAKE SCORECARDS WORK TO DRIVE SALES GROWTH

What happened next is what can happen to make a scorecard report contribute to sales growth.

  • Questions were asked about the various projects in YELLOW
  • Clarity was gained on the exact status
  • A series of What, Why, Who, When, How, Now What questions were asked
  • We arrived at standards that would change a status from Yellow to Red

The point is this:  If you are going to build and use scorecards to impact sales growth, the following has to happen:

  • You have to have metrics that are both leading and lagging
  • Standards have to be set and they have to be set high enough to allow growth and eliminate mediocrity
    • At or above 100% - GREEN - Good
    • At a maximum 90 to 99% - Yellow - Poor
    • Anything under 90% is RED – AND you have to be willing to call it FAILING.
  • You have to have established confidence and trust in your team so that they are comfortable being truthful about the status or production, pipeline, sales activity and forecasting.

YOU HAVE TO KNOW "WHY"

Finally, if you want to be able to answer, “Yes, our scorecards contribute to sales growth” you have to understand that the scorecard is like the meteorologist reporting the weather.  Normally, when it comes to weather, that’s all most of us care about. But, when it comes to sales growth, you better want to know why it is sunny or rainy!  That is Performance Management! To make your scorecards more effective always, ALWAYS be prepared to ask questions about outcomes that are either positive or negative:

  • Why are we getting this result?
  • When did we know this was going to happen? (I assure you it was known, or should have been known, way before the report was generated if you are collecting leading indicator sales activities via huddles.)
  • Who is or who are the DRI(s) – Directly Responsible Individual(s)?
  • What did we do/you do/they do the moment they knew?
  • What actions have been implemented to 1) duplicate this success 2) eliminate the problem and/or 3) slow down the negative trend?
  • What is happening now? What is the current status?

Having this type of discussion is what leads to sales growth not the scorecard alone!

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