Selling Microsoft

Sales Management: How Do You Stack Up?

Use this handy scorecard to gauge your sales effort at year end.

Every December, I write down my personal and business goals for the new year. I also review my goals from the previous year and grade my performance in meeting them. I've saved these sheets for the past two decades and found that reviewing them is a telling experience.

At the beginning of this year, I challenged my readers to take a similar approach to evaluating their companies and targeting overall areas for improvement (see "How Do You Rate?" January 2006). If you took the initial quiz, spend a few minutes repeating the exercise to gauge your progress. If you didn't, consider taking it now to get a big-picture view of where your organization stands today. Either way, you'll quickly see where you're doing well and where you still need work. (Look for the quiz at, using this FindIT code: HowDoURate.)

Meanwhile, evaluating your current status in 10 specific sales-management areas is a great way to leap into the new year. Grade your organization on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. As in the earlier evaluation, a five rating indicates that you feel you've done everything possible to excel in that area. A rating of three indicates that you're making progress in that category. A rating of one means that you know you're in trouble! Take a moment now to compile your ratings.

Obviously, the results not only indicate how your sales organization is doing overall, but also identify specific areas you can target for improvement in the coming year. These areas are all critical for building high-performance sales teams and increasing revenue predictability-issues that ultimately affect your entire company.

For that reason, sales executives and business owners alike should know a few basic numbers-for example, the ratio of potential revenues in the pipeline to both the defined quotas and the sales actually attained each month. From tracking this information over six to nine months, you'll determine your closing ratios-that is, the dollar value of your forecasts as compared with the actual sales achieved-and the value of the sales opportunities that you need at the start of each month to attain your sales quotas. Other critical numbers to know are your win/loss ratio (number of proposals versus the number
of wins) and the accuracy of each salesperson's monthly forecasts.

Year-End Sales Management Scorecard
[Click on image for larger view.]

Regardless of how well you scored in which areas, stay tuned to this column in 2007. I'll touch on many of these topics and on related areas throughout the coming year. Meanwhile, if you've got sales-related questions or subjects that you'd like me to address, feel free to e-mail me your ideas at [email protected]; be sure to put "RCP Selling MS" in the subject line.

One other New Year's tip: Make a resolution to avoid the "out of sight, out of mind" problem in the coming year. Each month, for each major sales opportunity in your pipeline, create a written plan of tactics for closing the account. Keep those action plans prominently on display on your desk or whiteboard. Doing so will help ensure that you're aware of your important customers and prospects all year long.

About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].


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