One of the most dangerous mistakes a salesperson can make is to go without activity. Even the shortest periods of time without activity end up causing major problems in producing results later, especially since the activities we take don’t line up neatly with the results that we produce.
As much as you as a salesperson may want to resist activity goals and metrics, they are necessary. And as much as you as a sales manager may not want to measure or enforce activity goals, it is necessary that you do so—even when you are making your number.
Imagine a professional athlete at the top of her game. She is unstoppable and cannot be beaten. Now imagine that instead of maintaining her diet regimen, her fitness regimen, her practice regimen, and her mental conditioning, she starts to take time off. She starts to spend time on the Internet and on other distractions. She may not suffer for those decisions right away, but at some point in the very near future, her results will evaporate.
The great game of sales isn’t very different, is it? Without prospecting for even relatively short periods of time, your pipeline starts to look a little light. Without face-to-face sales calls, your deals start to stall and your pipeline looks even weaker. And then, you miss your number for the quarter. This was never your intention; it just slipped away.
Keeping your momentum requires that you keep some standard, just like our imagined athlete. Your activity goals and metrics are indication of your future sales results. Your activity metrics are a snapshot of your fitness level as a salesperson. Without activity goals and metrics, it easy to underperform and miss your numbers.
Some Things To Consider
I have known sales managers to be vigilant and unforgiving when it comes to activity metrics and goals. Activity isn’t everything. In fact, their drive for activity-at- all-costs gets them reports that are full of lies and full of activity with prospects that should easily be disqualified. There is a balance required here.
The best place to start is a model week. Every week isn’t going to look exactly like the model week, and some are necessarily going to look very different based on the demands of the business. The model week is something to aspire to, an ideal.
A single week of poor activity isn’t likely to make or break your sales results. Instead, it’s better to look at the averages. Some weeks are going to be more productive than others. Activities like prospecting and first sales calls are good indicators, but some weeks are easier to produce results. It just works that way.
If a single week of poor activity isn’t likely to break your future sales results, a single month of poor activity is likely to do quite extensive damage. Missed prospecting and too few appointments over the course of weeks will be felt later in the form of missed numbers. Worse still, a quarter with poor activity is likely to spell doom.
This is the case for activity goals and metrics. Selling is one of those endeavors where it is very difficult to make up for lost time. You plant in the spring, and you harvest in the fall. You can plant like crazy in fall if you want to, but you are certain to produce nothing but a sense of frustration and panic. Activity goals and metrics are what keep you deliberately planting; it is always springtime in sales.
Why are activity goals and metrics important to you?
What are the activities that you have to be disciplined to taking now in order to produce the future results you need?
How long can you go without certain activities before your results start to suffer?
When do you feel the lack of activity in the way of poor results? How long does it take before you pay the price?