Looking at my Facebook page these last weeks was like looking at an Ice Bucket Dropping Contest. Almost my entire feed was filled with people who are either dropping or challenging other people to do the same. While the idea of this challenge is absolutely brilliant, there is one thing that is missing and that is accountability.
Over dinner conversations I have discovered that at least four people I know through friends have done the bucket dropping BUT, they have not donated. I hope that I am the ONLY person who knows people who know people who are not that authentic or honest. BUT sadly, I have an inkling there are other people out there who do the challenge, a wonderful way to self-promote on Facebook by the way, and then “forget” to mail the check.
Many of my readers know that I like comparisons, so this scenario reminded me of sales people who love to have nice conversations, but they don’t sell. Activity doesn’t equal results.
Activity Doesn’t Equal Results
There was a really important step that was missed when initiating the ice bucket dropping campaign. That was to make sure people doing the challenge actually did pay the $100 they claim they did. You would at least assume they did, since it’s all about a worthy cause – donating money to ALS research, wouldn’t you? I’m not sure exactly how it could have been done, but with today’s technology there certainly has to be a way.
I do know however how to make sure that your sales people produce. Don’t incentivize activity. Focus on results.
And by incentivize I also mean that sales managers shouldn’t encourage sales people to just make more phone calls. Sales metrics, as my experience has shown me, should be tied to results and to results only.
It really doesn’t matter how many phone calls, e-mails or marketing touches you make – if they are not successful touches!
All that matters is that every action you set will take you a step closer to closing the sale. Activity is important only if it’s streamlined, targeted and measured against clear objectives. A sales person who makes 500 client touches a week and never gets to go on a qualified sales presentation or meeting will most likely never make a sale. Not a successful sales person, right? But lots of activity!
Hold Yourself Accountable – Create More Opportunities
On the other hand, sales people who work smart will know who their ideal prospects are, research more, find out about their prospective contacts and then make well-prepared calls, followed by well-written customized emails, then follow-up calls, etc. And these sales people will open up doors faster.
These are sales professionals who employ consultative selling skills and strategies.
And in the end, it’s all about holding oneself accountable. Not just for management, but also for one’s own sense of purpose and goal-setting.
My friends and friends of friends on Facebook are not held accountable for their ice bucket dropping. Nobody asks them if they actually donated the money. That’s what’s missing in this process.
Holding your salespeople accountable, also means coaching them and sharing your experiences – successes and challenges. When sales managers and leaders collaborate with salespeople to create goals and ways to gauge their success, salespeople will also volunteer more information and share their insights. So, how could that work?
Laying out the steps which actually lead to a sale and holding salespeople accountable for consistently executing those steps has created higher performing and more successful sales teams. For example, having a check list with questions like:
• Has a follow-up meeting been arranged and committed to?
• What do the prospects perceive to be their needs?
• What value proposition can we develop and apply to this prospect?
• Who are the decision-makers? Who is the final decision-maker (=the Economic Buyer)?
• Do we know the decision-making and purchasing process?
• What is planned to happen after the first meeting?
• Are there next steps arranged?
• Do we know more about the prospect than we did prior to the meeting?
• What is their budget cycle?
• Who do they currently work with? How satisfied are they with their current provider? And so on.
These are questions that not only help qualify a prospect further, but are also essential to compiling data for future prospecting. Don’t ask your sales people to just put numbers on a spreadsheet that would equal the ice bucket challenge.
Make sure the numbers show progress in developing business, deepening business relationships. The numbers should show a path to increased revenue and not just increased activity.
And to everybody who is putting a video on Facebook dropping ice on themselves, be a decent person and write a check!