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An Autopsy Has Never Brought the Body Back to Life (A Note to the Sales Manager)

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
November 18, 2010

Most managers are addicts. They are helplessly, hopelessly dependent upon reports. This is especially true of executive management. And the more charts, graphs, and benchmarking statistics you can include, the better.

The trouble with reports is that they are autopsies. And an autopsy has never been known to bring the body back to life.

Both Lagging and Lacking

Most reports are autopsies. The body is no longer living, and there is nothing that can be done to change that fact. Reports show a picture of the past, and until we solve the problems of quantum physics and the space-time continuum, there isn’t anything that can be done about the past.

Spending time complaining about the past, wishing and hoping that the sales results would have been better, and wringing your hands over what you might have done differently doesn’t make the past numbers better . . . or future numbers, for that matter.

The only reason to look at the past is to inform your future behaviors. There are lessons to be learned from looking at past results, but those lessons don’t help improve the past results. Those lessons have to be applied to the future. The lessons that you glean from looking that the past, the lagging indicators, must be acted upon if you want future reports and metrics to produce a prettier picture of better results.

Leading Indicators and Leading in General

Good leadership, good management, and good coaching focuses on leading indicators. It is critical to derive lessons from past results; they provide you with precise evidence to the results past actions produced. It’s a safe bet that continuing to take the same actions in the future will produce results identical to those you produced in the past. To change the future, you have to change the actions.

Your future results, all of the metrics, all of the charts, all of the graphs, and all of the comparisons are already visible to you now.

You can see your future results now by looking at your sales force’s next week’s, next month’s, and next quarter’s calendar.

Where are they spending their time? With whom? Are there big blocks of time carved out for prospecting? What are the opportunities in their pipeline reports and how does their calendar line up with those opportunities?

The future of your sales force’s results can be measured by looking at the opportunities they are pursuing now.

Does their calendar suggest that in any way, shape, or form that their future results are going to be different—and better—than their past performance?

Activity Isn’t Enough

Ensuring better future results means looking at the activities that need to be taken now, and coaching to ensure that there is both activity and effective activity. It isn’t enough to see that there are calendared events.

Effective management is effective coaching, and coaching is about improving effectiveness. Future results are based on present and future actions, and ensuring that your sales force is effectively following their sales process, that they have an effective plan and strategy to achieve the outcomes they need to achieve, and that they know how to create enough value to advance the opportunity.

The future can be seen now. Future results can be influenced and achieved now. Waiting for an autopsy isn’t an effective strategy. Instead, work on what is still alive.


    1. What are the benefits of looking at reports? What do you hope to gain from having spent time reviewing past performance?
    1. Be honest. Really honest. Do you review reports with the sole intention of producing better future results? Are you certain? Then you must do so with a pad of paper and a pen at the ready, make a list of future actions that might be taken, build an action plan to implement those ideas, and then do all that is necessary to take those actions, right? And you look at these reports weekly?
  1. How much of your time is spent with reports that indicate future performance? Be honest; no one can hear your thoughts here. How much time do you spend with your calendar and your sales force’s calendar? Is there a better indicator of future results? How much time do you spend coaching the opportunities and sales calls that are tied to the opportunities you are competing for now?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

Read my interview with Tom Peters (Part One and Part Two).

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on November 18, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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