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Laggard Metrics

 Many sales organizations manage only to “laggard” performance metrics, such as quota achievement. And yes, we all know and agree that quota achievement is very important. However, in terms of improving a sales professional’s performance, it is a “rear-view” metric.  It represents the end result of a combination of good and/or bad selling skills and behaviors.

Consequently, it masks where real skill deficiencies exist. Did the sales person not make quota because they don’t know how to prospect?  Can s/he develop needs with power buyers?  How good is s/he at qualifying?

Therefore, it does not provide the sales manager with the ability to identify and manage the improvement of discrete selling difficulties that ultimately inhibit sales people from achieving quota.

Leading Metrics

On the other hand, a “leading” metric enables a sales manager to precisely identify and measure a selling difficulty.  Here the sales manager can then proactively help that seller to improve his or her ability in the relevant skill.  This results in dramatic improvement in applying that skill and, ultimately, in the achievement of quota.

The table below provides examples of three such metrics.

Importantly, in addition to the above leading metrics there are additional metrics available to sales managers that make it possible to measure and manage performance improvement in every key skill:

  • Account planning,
  • Opportunity identification,
  • Prospecting,
  • Account penetration,
  • Solution development,
  • Sales call qualification,
  • Sell cycle control,
  • Sell cycle qualification,
  • Negotiating, and
  • Closing.

The Plan

Sales managers should analyze a seller’s actual performance compared to their goal against these metrics. Where deficiencies exist, sales managers should then put in place the appropriate skill development plan – surgically targeted to that skill – to help the sales person measurably improve their performance.

Over the course of one quarter, the sales manager can measure and will likely see significant performance improvement in the skill or skills that are likely holding a sales professional back.

The sales manager should also have the latitude to compensate the seller to measurably improve their performance in the skill(s) they are lacking.