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2012: The Times Are A-Changing (Are You?)

At the end of each year, I write down my personal and business goals for the new year in seven different categories. The challenging part of that exercise is I have to review the goals that I had set from the past year and grade my performance. I have saved these sheets from the previous 20-plus years and it's a telling experience: I have found there are always good goals, but sometimes unrealistic timeframes.

Review your performance over the past 12 months. Ask yourself, "Have I changed or improved my organization?" If you are a new reader make sure you review all of my previous blogs for ideas and tips to improve your personal or professional performance.

As I look ahead into 2012 and think about potential blog topics, it occurred to me that asking you to evaluate your current status on a few basic sales management categories might be a great was to get ready for the new year. Rate each category below on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest:

  • How comfortable are you that you know what percentage of the pipeline in the current category is required to ensure the sales budget is exceeded?
  • How comfortable are you that you have enough pipeline potential in the 30, 60 and 90 categories to exceed future monthly quotas?
  • Can you visually see all of your top 10 dollar potential forecasted accounts from your desk?
  • How well are all key accounts targeted? Rate your plan to attack them.
  • How high well does your interviewing process ensure the best candidate -- not the best available candidate -- is selected? 
  • Rate the quality of your three-month sales training program. (Is it defined and implemented? Do you have a salesperson development plan to improve the professionalism of your team?)
  • Rate the quality of your CRM/SFA system. (Is it being used effectively? Is it up to date? Is it backed-up?)
  • Rate how your compensation plan works. (Are your company's goals aligned with the compensation/quota programs?)          
  • How well are your sales leading indictors defined? (Are they measured, posted, graphed, analyzed?)
  • Do you have regular scheduled and unscheduled "coaching" sessions with each of your salespeople?
  • Rate the effectiveness of your sales contests and business games. (Are they planned to promote revenue and build teamwork?)

A score of 45-55 means minor tuning may be required.

A score of 35-44 means you should consider several projects.

A score of 25-34 means you need to take multiple actions.

A score of 0-24 means major assistance is required now.

Many of these topics are critical for building a high-performance sales team as well as increasing the predictability of your revenue. It's critical that a sales manager or owner know a few basic ratios of their business, such as the ratio of potential revenues in the pipeline to the defined  sales quota versus actual attainment. If you track this information for six to nine months, you will find your closing ratios, the value of how much potential revenue must be generated each month to enter your pipeline, and what you need at the beginning of each month to attain your sales quota.

I also like the idea of "out of sight, out of mind." If you have major accounts, you must have a written plan of action, for each account, for at least three months. If you have major sales opportunities to sell each month, you must have their name and action plans visibly defined on your wall or desk. This will ensure you are consistently aware of your important prospects.

Since recruiting and interviewing are the most important aspects, making sure you do them right becomes critical! 

Stay tuned to this blog as we move into 2012. I will be touching on many of these topics and others in greater detail as the year moves along.  If you would like to suggest specific topics for me to cover in one or over several columns, please send me your ideas!

Posted by Ken Thoreson on December 29, 2011 at 11:59 AM


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