It’s the end of the quarter, and you’re behind. The last thing you want to do is go for a quick fix, but you know you’ve got to hit your number.
This isn’t uncommon. According to research from Clearslide and CSO Insights, 58% of deals forecasted slip from the period that they are reported to be ready to close in.
That’s a big reason why, according to the Salesforce 2015 State of Sales Report, 75% of sales leaders currently use or plan to use sales activity management software. And sales teams are ready for it more than ever since the technologies that measure key sales activities have become standard in modern sales teams (think CRM, email tracking, dialer systems and screen-sharing, to name a few).
Here’s how sales activity management is changing the way we close our quarters in a very important way, as well as a few steps to get your team started with creating an activity based sales culture.
The Old-school Way to Close the Quarter
Step 1: List out all the deals. Go pull a list of all the deals in sight for the quarter.
Step 2: Conduct daily pipeline reviews. Run a daily pipeline and close plan review with the full sales team. This typically happens early in the morning and later in the evening – outside of selling time.
Step 3: Develop a promotional program. Create sales promotions such as giving reps extra discounting leverage, or free services to throw in with a signature by end of month.
Step 4: Wish you did it differently. At the end of the quarter, you’ll start pulling reports out of your CRM to figure out what happened. You’ll likely see data points that tell you things like prospecting or pipeline creation slowed a couple of months ago. You’ll wish you knew that earlier when you could have done something about it!
The Modern Way to Close the Quarter Strong
In short, the modern way to push for a strong close at the end of the quarter is to not do it at all.
Imagine if the gas gauge in your car only alerted you when you were about to hit empty. You’d start a mad rush to find a gas station, and odds are you’d run out of gas before you got there! Sound familiar?
When you don’t take steps on a daily and weekly basis to ensure you’re on pace for hitting your quarterly number, you leave yourself in a vulnerable place. You stop driving value in the sales process. You skip steps, and, as a result, don’t effectively communicate the value of your product to prospects day-in and day-out. You discount because you’re backed into a corner, which is money left on the table.
That’s why your sales organization should be engaged in Activity Based Selling, where winning a sale is the outcome of a cascading chain of sales activities that can be managed, motivated and course corrected in real time.
Modern sales leaders everywhere are embracing sales activity management, and you can, too, by starting with these very important steps.
3 Ways to Implement Sales Activity Management
1. Determine your key performance indicators.
Interview top-performing salespeople to ask what behaviors and activities they focus on daily that they believe lead to sales. Top performers don’t always know exactly what they are doing, or why it’s unique, so you’ll need to probe deeply here. Ask questions like: What do you think you do that is unique in comparison to your peers who aren’t performing as well as you? What do you think you should do more often, but you just never seem to have the time? Also spend time with a couple middle performers and sales managers to ask similar questions.
After you’ve narrowed down your list of key activities and goals, confirm they are aligned to be tracked properly within your CRM system and that the team knows how to log it all properly.
2. Implement intrinsic transparency.
Once you have your activity goals defined for your different selling roles, build out personalized scorecards for each salesperson and sales manager so everyone can stay aligned and focused. Since you’ve developed these via team interviews, it will help your team be more aligned because they were part of helping create the metrics and goals. You’ll want to roll these out via training sessions with smaller groups and then the entire sales organization. The scorecards can be managed either through Salesforce reports, or by using an activity management system that integrates with your CRM system.
3. Measure and motivate.
With your scorecards in place, you’re now ready to start training your sales managers on how to be truly modern, metrics-oriented coaches instead of just walking around asking people what’s going to close this month. That still has it’s place, but is only a small portion of the real value a true front-line sales manager can bring to the table. Now they can manage their team against a common set of operating metrics, they’ll know who people can learn from, when their team is at capacity and what exactly folks need help with. And they can know this all in real time.
Don’t get me wrong, the “end of quarter push” still has it’s place and is oftentimes a necessary reality. Within a sales organization that has a strong culture, it can be a rush of excitement to pull the team together. But modern sales leaders change the end-of-quarter push from a panic to hit the number, into an opportunity to rally the team to see how much they can beat their number. And the best way to get there is by managing their sales team daily around the activities and behaviors that truly matter and lead to closing more business.