“At the potter’s house, water is served in a broken jug” – Arabic proverb.
B2B sales professionals are skilled in recognizing gaps between a client’s desired versus current state.
Why is it that when it comes to diagnosing sales team performance issues, sales leaders often skip the diagnosing part and instead focus solely on what the results versus quota show at the end of the year?
Easy enough, right? If a person doesn’t make their number for the year, or x number of consecutive quarters, then it must be their fault.
You can diagnose sales performance issues with the following three questions:
Question 1: Can the proper sales performance metrics be tracked, visible, and managed?
If all you have is results, you only have lagging metrics. Lagging metrics are like looking at the scoreboard for the entire game while your team manages the game themselves.
It would help if you also had leading and leaning metrics to provide insight far in advance of results. Sample metrics could include the number of proposals, average deal size, sales cycle length, number of demos or white-boarding sessions, etc. Tracked, visible, and managed in that order.
Question 2: Are sales leaders coaching a material portion of their time?
If your answer is yes on this one, you may be mistaken, as most sales leaders readily admit they don’t spend enough time coaching their people. For the record, spending time with salespeople is not the same as coaching salespeople. If you apply a typical sports coaching example, 70% of coaching happens before, 10% during, and 20% after the game.
If sales leaders manage eight or more salespeople, they do not spend enough time coaching. In our experience, the ideal sales rep to manager ratio is 5 to 1, or 6 to 1.
Question 3: Has the salesperson been in their role for more than two years?
It takes time to develop sales competencies in B2B selling, particularly when hiring from outside the industry or people early in a career. By the end of year two, new salespeople are no longer new and should be on track to hit their quarterly or annual goals.
Diagnosing and Fixing sales performance issues is simple but not easy.
The common denominator to improving sales performance is the front-line sales leader.
If the right metrics, process, and coaching are not in place, you’ll find that new hires flush out quickly, and you will struggle to improve the performance of sales reps in the middle of the pack.
Apply the principles outlined in this post, and you’ll be able to diagnose the real issues to improve your organization’s sales performance.