Ancient people used myths to teach powerful lessons.
These stories often told of gods and heroes performing extraordinary acts in dire circumstances to convey a powerful message.
Sales metrics can tell a powerful message, too, and enable you to build a meaningful business.
“Never measure just because you can.
Measure to learn. Measure to fix.”
- Stijn Debrouwere
Let’s look at some fictional myths in pursuit of the truth and the powerful lessons that follow.
Myth: You have to track the same metrics as your competition.
Truth: Define metrics based on your vision—for example, you may have a clear exit plan, so work your way backward to determine what steps are needed now and how to measure their progress. The best metrics are defined by your company objectives, not by competitors or by your industry.
You also want to avoid “vanity metrics,” which make you feel good. Do this by making sure any metrics you measure connect with measurable growth. Make sure the activities you measure are leading toward your desired outcome.
Myth: You want favorable results.
Truth: Measure your activity, results, AND outcomes. By activity, I mean the steps that will lead to closing ideal target buyers. By outcomes, I mean the long-term relationship with buyers beyond the immediate deal. Outcomes matter more than results. For instance, if someone closes a ton of new clients, but those clients then churn quickly, you may be losing money based on the high acquisition cost versus the long-term value. You want positive outcomes as a high return on your sales investment.
Myth: The purpose of data is reporting.
Truth: Rely on reports to drive strategic decisions. The best reports connect individual behavior to desirable outcomes. You want data to inform insights to grow the business and develop careers. By helping people understand which activities contribute to the best outcomes, they can decide how to focus their efforts.
Myth: Compensation should be based on quotas.
Truth: Recognize behaviors, outcomes, collaboration, and company goals. Use complexity to amplify performance. For instance, create separate recognition for the person who introduces new deals and the one who closes those deals. Sometimes, a large contract is due to luck, or the CEO introduces the prospect to the salesperson who gets the commission. Having incentives and bonuses based on individual activities and results, as well as team and company performance, requires more time and thinking upfront, but serves as an investment in driving collaboration, productivity, and long-term growth.
Myth: Salespeople thrive in competition.
Truth: Encourage people to outperform their past quarters and collaborate on team goals so everyone wins. Motivation is complex. One person may need more structure, such as daily reports; another may need to know the latest product information to sell successfully. One person may be better at landing certain deals, so find more of those types for them to pursue. To optimize success, consider metrics a learning device, not a scoreboard.
Key Takeaway: As you work on replacing each sales myth with a powerful truth, you will likely see a clear difference in your metrics and, ultimately, your revenues.
I really want to thank Sanj Sanampudi for his wisdom and passion. His thoughtful rants against simple commission plans taught me to appreciate rewarding collaborative behaviors and holistic outcomes, not merely counting the final results.
Photo by Cristina Gottardi who can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/cristinagottardi/
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