Sales Effectiveness: Manage Where it Counts

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A large, cross-industry study conducted by Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Education Foundation identified over 300 metrics defined by company leaders as being important to effective sales management. Each metric was categorized into one of three buckets:

  • Business Results (revenue, market share, etc.)
  • Sales Objectives (winning customers, selling products, etc.)
  • Sales Activities (number of sales calls, % of account plans completed, etc.)

The study’s sponsors set out to determine which of those metrics could be influenced by applying management techniques. To be considered manageable, a metric had to be changeable based on whether a first-line sales manager could modify it by asking a sales staff member to change his/her behavior, thereby changing the metric’s results.

They concluded that some metrics simply can’t be significantly affected, despite management efforts. Metrics in the Business Results category tended not to be controllable. After all, said the study’s authors, “If sales managers could directly manage revenue, then every sales force in the world would exceed its target.”

Other metrics can be managed, but in fact are rarely targeted by management. This rang true for the study’s metrics in the Sales Objectives category. And notably, research showed that most companies fail to measure the metric most within the sphere of control: Sales Activities. They recommend refocusing efforts in this last area, since it’s considered the function most likely to be influenced by good management.

Type of Metric % of Total Metrics Directly Manageable
Business Results 59% No
Sales Objectives 24% No
Sales Activities 17% Yes

To read about the study and its recommendations, visit http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/in-sales-can-you-manage-what-youre-measuring/

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Judy has been with PharmSource since 1998, and is Vice President and co-owner. She brings a wealth of experience in management, marketing, business development and sales consulting. Judy holds a BA degree from NYU and an MBA degree from Northeastern University.

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