Developing Sales Performace

April 16, 2014 || POSTED BY Don Fox || Industry News

Developing Sales Performance jayreischl

stand outCan we compare the Best to the Rest… and use it to make a difference?

How do we develop, measure and manage in order to create an effective sales organization?  Sales development is not a problem that has cropped up recently. It’s been the subject of books and articles for generations. Though, somehow, it doesn’t seem to be getting easier in a world where tools usually equate to technology which usually equates to exhaustive reporting and data overload.

Measuring Sales results in the Senior Housing industry is easy. Is the occupancy level on target? At the end of each month we know if we have accomplished the goals prescribed.  Notice, this is a measurement in arrears, so when we make the number, we cheer, pat each other on the back and wonder whether it will happen next month. If we don’t, we make an in-depth analysis (L )and promise to take the new-found information to accomplish the goal next month. On and on we go.

Why is it that some properties seem to hit the target nearly every month? Why is it some stay well below the occupancy capacity no matter the resources provided? Is it the property? Is it the competition? Is it the geography? Is it a sales issue? The answer is maybe. We know for sure that if you have confidence in your selling process and measurement system, the other possibilities will be much clearer.

We often get feedback that some reps just know what to do. That’s usually followed by a shrug or raised eye brow (or both) with not much more in the way of an explanation…..not sure why. What happens if we try to replicate the traits of the most successful reps?

The Aberdeen Group1 recently conducted a Research Study. Among the findings:

Defining the Key Problems of sales Management:

The Top Pressure for the sales organization is Insufficient Revenue Growth – by nearly 2-1 margin

What to do First?  Strategic Actions to Hit the Big Number

Best Practices reveal that companies’ most popular action is to understand, replicate characteristics of top-performing salespeople

That might include more:

        In-person sales meetings

        Social media activity

        Behind-the scenes networking

        Or simply picking up the phone more often

The study expands on the topic of Best-in-Class Sales Performance Management to include programs to build and develop sales teams along with focus on getting productive more quickly….and others.

1: Work cited: Aberdeen Group  – January 2014 – 245 Companies surveyed

By applying a great many resources and developing institutional support systems as outlined in the study, it’s clear that companies continue to invest in Sales Performance. These concepts may be the future for the Senior Provider business but for the bulk of the industry at this point, are there simpler, more attainable steps available?

Question 1 – Can we measure the replicate-able traits?

Question 2 – How do we measure and differentiate activity from outcome?

Since the business of ‘sales’ is a people business, there are more factors in play. You are trying to measure an outcome among many characteristics that include language skills, listening skills, subjective judgment, time and time management, activities, decision-making and economic assessment. Now, it could also stand to reason that we are trying to measure these characteristics not just from the skills of a sales person but these elements are also present on the side of the potential buyer, which is often based on a family decision. And yet this list probably doesn’t scratch the surface.

Is it possible to measure activity/outcome at a glance?

There are tools and there are technology tools.

DEI has used the attached spreadsheet to measure sales performance for many years. The format of the document is customized to fit the Senior Housing industry. The purpose of using a spreadsheet in the attached format is to normalize activity and outcome against an agreed-upon set of conditions that strictly deals with prospect participation. What?

The purpose is to distill out all of the unnecessary complexity to create a simple representation, everyone can read….usually at a glance.

So, what you really need to see is a simple representation of the pipeline of viable opportunities in the current sales cycle…. Along with effort generated toward referral source leads. And, if you could compare the difference between high performing properties and those that are in a condition of ‘not so much…. and if you could see it at a glance, that would be great!

The following graphic shows the condition of current opportunities with 4 properties.

S6 Visual Pattern - Team Sales Slide SL Property

It doesn’t take a ‘rocket scientist’ or mathematics major to tell that Property 1 is outshining the rest. But, what else is the format telling us. The sales effort in Property 1 is saying:

·        The sales person is producing an optimum activity and outcome yield in all aspects of sales performance to keep a healthy pipeline NOW and in the FUTURE.

o   The sales person is closing sales and also has a healthy pipeline of prospects moving through the sales cycle, so that enough closed prospects are available to make the target.

·        The sales person is working with referral sources at a pace and capacity to expect a renewing volume of leads to make sales targets possible, ongoing.

This is what sales performance can look like without having to remove the brain and heart of a sales person to examine the traits. The sales person is effective and balances activities across all areas to ensure success.

The graphic is also telling us something very compelling about Properties 2, 3 & 4. That is, specific areas of sales process that are not getting done. In property 2, there is a problem with moving leads through the sales cycle. That is either an area to develop skills or the leads are not qualified. Properties 3 & 4 have too little effort going toward lead and referral development. There are a number of additional nuances we could evaluate but for the purpose here, we can see that Properties 3 & 4 may show up with adequate numbers for this month’s target but the well is getting very dry. Next month doesn’t look good…. which speaks to forecasting. We’ll take that up in another issue. But, you can start to see the importance of forecasting.

The point of knowing what the graphic is telling us is that the organization can respond to specific areas of concern and development for each property or person rather than generalized training.

We know that almost everyone responsible for sales outcome wants to show similar results but in truth doesn’t quite understand how, at least not the subtleties of doing everything well. With a simple mapping approach, it becomes much easier to clarify how to balance effective activities toward sales goals. We know that everyone has a limited number of resources to support development. Knowing the target and aiming at a specific point is far more efficient than trying to cover the whole area.

We also know that only 10-15% percent of sales people across all industries intuitively understand and execute like the sales person represented in Property 1. Most everyone else needs coaching and support to get there. -Jay Reischl DEI Principal