The Numbers – 8th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That Are Key to Building a Sales Culture

This is the 8th in the series of articles based on the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies that are Key to Building a Sales Culture.

#8 – It’s Only a Numbers Game if You Use the Right Numbers

We received a bank reconciliation statement yesterday – not the checking account statement, but the statement that justifies their monthly fees.  Take a look- they charge us:

  • $1.00 each time we make a deposit
  • $50.00 for having a digital deposit device attached to my PC
  • $ 0.05 for each check we deposit digitally
  • $ 0.15 for each check we deposit
  • $ 0.14 for each credit card deposit to the account

I expect to be charged for checks and debits for money taken from the account but our bank has found 5 ways to charge us when we put money into the bank!  Believe me, it’s not about how much this account is charged each month, it’s about their stupidity in two areas:

  1. They are paying attention to the wrong numbers.  We expect banks to charge us for using their money.  We don’t expect banks to charge us when they get to use our money!
  2. They are successfully unselling the commercial customers who choose to do business with them. Airlines have figured this out too. Not only are most of them (not Southwest) charging to check bags (creating a chronic scenario where there is never enough overhead space anymore and it takes longer to board and deboard planes), but this week I was charged $50 just to get on an earlier shuttle.  Instead of “happy we could accommodate you – thanks for your loyalty” I heard, “that will be an additional $50”.  If it was a bargain economy fare to begin with, I could understand it.  But this was a $738 one-hour round-trip between Boston and Washington DC!  More unselling at its ugliest.

Is selling a numbers game?  Not the numbers your grandfather used to pay attention to!

Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s abound for sales.  However, most companies choose to pay attention to the wrong ones.  They look at lagging indicators like:

  • revenue
  • margin
  • number of accounts
  • average sale
  • revenue by salesperson

Instead, they should be looking at leading indicators that can be used for coaching, accountability, motivation, recruiting and development, like conversion ratios:

  • attempts to contacts
  • contacts to conversations
  • conversations to appointments
  • 1st meetings (suspects) to prospects
  • prospects to qualified
  • qualified to closable
  • closable to closed
  • length of sales cycle
  • new opportunities in existing accounts
  • new opportunities in new accounts
  • new opportunities in new markets
  • opportunities from inbound marketing
  • opportunities from advertising
  • opportunities from referrals
  • opportunities from trade shows
  • opportunities from cold calling

Those KPI’s will tell you more about what will happen than numbers that tell you what already happened.  Additionally, these statistics will tell you who is selling versus who is taking orders, managing accounts and living off their past efforts or worse, somebody else’s efforts.

Where do you begin?  You must start with the pipeline.  Using a monthly goal, average sale, and closing percentage, you must determine, for each salesperson, the quantity – how many opportunities and how much in dollar value – must be in each of the four stages of the pipeline at any given time, in order for the goals to be achieved or surpassed  Then, staging the actual opportunities using the criteria established for each stage, compare what is necessary for each stage to what is actually in each stage.  You’ll be shocked – frightened and angry – when you do this comparison.  Then, you must determine what each salesperson must do – each day – to fill the first stage of the pipeline with the number and value of opportunities required each month.

If you pay attention to the right numbers, the game is on and you guarantee your sales force repeated wins each month.  Look at the wrong numbers and it’s game over.  You lose again.