One thing common about Sales is that it exhibits a common tendency to go uncertain! Many companies suffer from unpredictable, unsustainable sales and thus profitability. Most organizations fall into a common fallacy that only numbers matters, what is the sales output. In my view, measurement of sales functions requires one to take a comprehensive view of the inputs harnessed, the sales process and outcomes. First let’s look at sales inputs. Does your organization have a sales structure to exploit new customer acquisitions and mining independently? Dedication brings focus and efficiency. Second part of input, is what investments are made to identify opportunities and how to quickly convert them, what most management theorists call “sense and respond”. Have you built intelligence tools (not just salesforce.com, but more humane partner info systems) that help in steering the sales organization to new ebbing business opportunities? Is your sales org agile enough to notice and cash on gaps in competitive product space, new delivery requirements or just plain fulfilment opportunities? Most crucial part of your sales is the sales person. How lively and active they are in engagement skills, listening, requirement gathering and solution selling. Plain Jane product pushers may not drive sales and customer engagement in markets beset with technological and requirement advances. Hire them for attitude and not some fancy degree.
Sales process arrangement and efficiency drives the sales process. Is sales process comprehensive to capture all that happens during a sales process? Does it help you uncover where the current status is and why the sale is stuck at this junction? Is the process simple enough for sales guy on the street to work with? How does the sales process enable your staff to take calculated and approved risks? Does the sales process allow sales people to function within ethical guidelines and yet remain competitive? Are the incentives sharp enough to drive the expected behaviour? Do the incentives stretch the performance of individuals?
Finally, on the output side, what is that one wants to measure, how often and how this measurement must drive a particular behaviour? An insight from world class manufacturing organizations warrants a look here. Companies that have built great products and are successfully competing globally, have one thing in common. The number of measures of output is few, they allow ownership and risk taking at the front line and overall the performance is highly “visible”. The benefits the world class companies’ gain is relevant, reliable and accurate information to know where they are leading and how to land at the determined shores.