When it comes to comparing salespeople, many sales managers often have little more to go on than the flimsiest of metrics and their limited experience of the salespeople in the field. Although they produce forecasts from the information they get from the salespeople, these are often no more than a “wish and hope” list and what actually comes in may not bear any resemblance to the original forecast.
This may not be the case in more tightly managed organizations, where they use CRM systems that can give the sales manager detailed metrics about exactly when and who the salesperson is meeting, what products they are quoting, expected dates, budgets, etc. This is all much more useful to sales management and can give much more reliable forecasts, but it doesn’t always do the job of assisting the sales manager in improving an individual salesperson’s performance.
When it comes to sales coaching, what the sales manager needs is a reliable way to know what opportunities his salespeople are working on and then to be able to fairly quickly assess how they are progressing in each opportunity. A CRM system can show progress against a set of sales process benchmarks and milestones, but to understand what the salesperson has achieved, the sales manager must normally wade through the details of each opportunity.
To be able to effectively coach the salespeople the sales manager needs to get a good idea of how the salesperson is approaching an opportunity, what research they’ve done, who they are meeting, what qualification they’ve done, how wide they are spreading their net etc: With this information over a number of opportunities, the sales manager is in a much better position to coach effectively, but they don’t normally have the time to wade through all the intricate details in the CRM system.
What would be more useful to a sales manager is a graphical set of information that could immediately show progress in an opportunity against their process milestones and allow them to very quickly drill to the detail for sub-milestones. This again would want to be in graphical form, showing progress against specific steps in that part of the process. A simple numerical, alphabetical, size-coded, or color-coded system would show the relative progress against the benchmarks.
Should the sales manager need to get more detail still, to understand just how the sales person reached this point, a set of textural information showing yes/no or simple list options could illuminate the sales person’s decision making very quickly. All of this would be even more useful if the sales manager could evaluate opportunities side-by-side, look at how the successful sales compare to the losses, not just for one salesperson, but between the members of the team.
Given all this information in a quick to view graphical format, the sales manager would be able to coach the middle performers much more effectively and guide them to work in a way more like that of the star performers. Given the technology we have available, isn’t it time to give the sales manager the resources they need to do their most important job more effectively?