Keeping score is a fundamental human characteristic. From the beginning of time, man has devised means of counting, tracking, monitoring and numbering everything within the human realm.
In the world of sports, it’s the score and the time that makes the difference between a winning team and a losing one. Selling is no different. Every salesperson, every sales manager, every business owner and every executive is counting; in other words, keeping score of sales activities, time spent in the sales arena and final results. It’s natural, normal and something we all do. Who sold the most, what were the margin dollars, how many returns did we have and what is the commission percentage? It’s all about keeping score.
I’ve never heard a sales manager say, “I’m not interested in how much our people sell, I’m just happy our salespeople like their jobs.” There is only one thing that matters, profit! Now I’m not suggesting profit comes at the expense of honesty, integrity, and the customer’s best interest. At the end of the day, what difference does it make how much the sales people love their jobs or how hard they work if they are not generating a profit. A company that doesn’t make a profit doesn’t “make it”. If the company doesn’t make it, then no one makes it. Salespeople must keep score of the sales they make as well as all the activities that leads up to making the sale. This is where most sales people fail. They only keep track of the sale without tracking all the activities necessary in making the sale.
By nature, selling is dynamic. It involves multiple activities consuming varying amounts of time and generates differing amounts of money. These three variables, activity, time and money are the core components of the sales equation. At best, salespeople and management are tracking sales, but they never seem to pay attention to the elements of the sales process, or in other words, those activities that directly lead to the completion of a sale. In its simplest form, how many people does a salesperson need to speak to in order to find one person interested in hearing what the salesperson has to offer? How many people does a salesperson need to tell his story, before he finds one prospect willing to purchase his product or service? How many times does a salesperson need to follow-up with a prospect, before they feel comfortable enough to make a purchase?
Selling is not an event, selling is a process. When the correct process is followed with precision, then a certain number of sales will be made. Salespeople and management track sales, but they are not in touch with the process leading up to making the sale. If you knew for certain that contacting fifty people to schedule five appointments and making a total of twenty-five follow-up visits would generate one sale worth a thousand dollars commission, would you make fifty contacts? Would you do it? I believe you would if you knew for sure that those activities would put a thousand dollars in your pocket.
Now, what if you knew it would take a total of twenty hours of combined sales time to accomplish all of those activities. Therefore, a thousand dollar commission could be earned every twenty hours while working your sales process. If you worked a forty-hour week you could earn two thousand dollars per week, or four thousand dollars every two weeks, or eight thousand dollars per month. If you didn’t take a lunch break every day, but just grabbed a bite to eat while continuing your sales activities, you could earn an additional thousand dollars each month. If you arrived at work an hour early each day of the month you could earn another thousand dollars a month. Time is money and the more time you spend following the steps of your sales process, the more money you could earn.
Unfortunately, most salespeople just do a lot of “stuff” not really keeping track of those activities necessary to make a sale, or the number of times each activity is required to close a sale, or the time required to complete each activity. Sales happen as the result of following a process, whether you realize it or not. Understanding exactly what it takes to make a sale is the most important thing a salesperson can know! Successful selling is the result of diligently following a process and knowing how much time is required to complete each step of the process.
Knowing your sales score each day of the month is critical to reaching your monthly sales goal. If athletes don’t know what the score is at any moment in time, and if they don’t know how much time remains in the game, they will never feel the urgency to take heroic actions to make a last minute score to win the game. I’ve worked with salespeople, who in the last few remaining moments of the month closed a sale that put them over their goal, while their associates, not knowing where they stood in relation to their goal, had already called it a day. Successful salespeople, those salespeople who always reach their goals, understand these principles and keep score of all the activities associated with their sales process. They know how much time must be invested to make a sale. They also know precisely how much money they will earn for their efforts. These salespeople regularly increase their income by increasing their activity level and the amount of time they spend in the sales arena.