One of the most interesting topics about goal setting and achieving greater results in upcoming quarters is to be tracking specific indicators. Now the truth is – most b2b sales people (and sales management) – are only tracking lagging indicators. Thus, a lack of predictability of achieving any form of serious growth goals and objectives.
Most people are tracking their sales results and possibly their gross margin data, however, these are all lagging indicators. Meaning these data is found in the history statements of what you have done and there is no way to change the past.
Leading indicators are those specific guides or triggers – usually related to your sales process – which then followed lead to certain levels of success. And, tracking your leading indicators every day will lead to greater success and sales results.
I first discovered these leading indicators back in the late 80’s when I was still doing activity based sales (the traditional model of selling). It was a simple system for tracking my personal results. I basically tracked five things – 4 leading and 1 lagging indicator. These five indicators were…
- Number of phone calls
- Number of Decision Makers Connected with
- Number of Appointments with the Decision Makers
- Number of Presentations Made to Decision Makers
- Daily and Weekly Sales Results
This list is really quite simple, yet, as I used it each week I realized the Law of Mathematics emerged and it would forecast my success for the day or week. There were ratios related to each progression of the above list based upon my personal skill levels.
Therefore, it would take “x” number of calls to reach “y” number of decision makers leading to “z” number of presentations to these decision makers. And, when I got the numbers right – my sales results would be exactly on target.
So how does this really work? It is all about your level of sales skills plus the impact of a sales process and the mathematically laws of success – which is your personal selling system. For those of you familiar with the Quality systems developed by W Edward Deming you know how he used SPC (Statistical Process Control) to show how a system becomes predictable and thus the results become predictable. When we take this same logic to our sales process we can find more predictability for our goal and objective achievement.
Okay, since this system works, my question to you is…
Are You Tracking Your Leading Indicators or Your Lagging Indicators?
A lot of b2b sales people at this point ask – what are my leading indicators? Which is a good question to ask. Yet, the real answer to your question is dependent upon your personal sales process. So a second question I need to ask you is…
Do you know Your Sales Process and What are the Critical Milestones in Your Sales Process?
If you don’t have an answer to this question it is time to sit down and reflect upon how you won your best accounts during the past five years. Realizing this will take a little longer to track back in time, I want you to understand you are looking for all the similarities in your steps to success. Those steps are most likely your personal sales process.
To test it, think of the accounts you may have lost during those years. Did you break from the pattern you found in your successful account wins? Were you out positioned by a really good competitor? Did you skip a critical milestone only to have it raise a question later in the process thus losing momentum and allowing others to out flank you?
One of the most important things I have learned during my years of b2b selling – the sales process is present all the time. So, manage it well and you win more often. Cheat the process and it will cost you the win more often than not. My advise you to you is to honor your sales process and carefully track the critical milestones to more accurately predict your sales success.
Your leading indicators are part of your b2b sales process. Identify the critical milestones and then begin to figure out how you can move your sales process forward to the next critical milestone.
Here is an example of how this process can work…
- Identify 8 Prospects who match our Ideal Customer Profile
- Research the targets to identify key decision makers, trends within their industry, etc.
- Email or Mail -non-selling — information, white paper or case study referencing a possible issue for this decision maker.
- Check for others in the target organization who you could contact to learn more about the target.
- Identify a Coach or Influencer who would be willing to introduce you to the decision maker
- Get a meeting with the key decision maker
- Gain conceptual agreement regarding how you could help the target company (and Decision Maker)
- Win contract with Targeted account – converting them into an Active Customer
This is a very rough draft of a sales process. In fact, there are several pieces missing – like plant visits; executives visiting your site (plant, distribution center, executive team, etc.); a pilot or product sample; etc. – all of which could impact the success of your typical sales process.
Identify the key milestones and use them as a numerical guide for you to track on a weekly basis with monthly summaries to show progress with each target. These will become your personal system guiding you into the future – leading to your success in growing your business and legacy as a b2b sales superstar.
Start creating your future today. Identify your b2b sales process. Figure out the critical steps from your success or failure tracks in the past. Make a list of these steps or milestones and track them each day. There is nothing complex here – only some focused thought and the ambition to be the best. So Go For It Today!