Sales Metrics and Bull

Is there a difference? That’s the question that we’re asking today.

Sounds funny in my head. I hope it’s funny as you read it.

So, almost a week ago, I posted Critical Sales Ratios. What most of you may not have noticed is that I wrote it at 10 PM. I fell asleep on it and when I woke up, I couldn’t remember how I wanted to end it, so I asked, “So, what’s my point?” hoping that one of my readers would fill in the blanks for me.

Thank you, Lance. The phone does still work. As a matter of fact, some people make ALL THEIR SALES ON THE PHONE! They never meet any of their customers, face to face. More later…

Thank you, Rob. You’re right. #3 is that cowboy that talks, but can’t predict how he’ll walk. He works totally by his gut and can be a challenge for his manager when it comes to goal setting and accountability.

Thank you, Trish. Oh, the dichotomy! Do I want the forecastability of #1 or the apparent determination of #3? How can I get #1 to do whatever it takes on every contact, not just 6.31 of them and how can I get #3 to give me a feel for what he’s gonna do tomorrow, next week, or next month, so I can plan production, finance, etc?

Thank you, Mike. The problem with #2, the meeters and the greeters is that most of them wouldn’t recognize an opportunity unless they met someone with a dollar sign on their forehead with a flashing sign that said, “Today’s the day! Just ask!” Funny thing is that many networkers would ask, “Ask what?”

OK, so, now that I’m awake, I can finish. The point is that none of these is perfect. Does the statistician know how to use his numbers? Dave Kurlan will sometimes ask, “What if you could get a 10% improvement at every stage in your sell cycle? How much would you improve? I won’t show the math, but in the statistician’s case, it would mean a 61.05% increase in sales. Marginal improvements along the way lead to a huge increase in the bottom line. What if it would work on ALL of your salespeople?

As an example, Frank Belzer did an experiment a while back that we called 6 at 6. It had a marginal impact on the number of dials, but a HUGE impact on the number of contacts…….Interesting!

I have a lot of experience with the #2’s of the world. The networkers. I see them everywhere. Show up. Eat. Drink. Pass out cards. Take some cards. ZERO FOLLOW-UP. ZERO. Why? They can’t sell. They don’t know what to do and/or they wouldn’t do it if they did know. Remember this post? Last Thursday, I was one of about 300 people at G’vanni’s. One guy had a miserable time. Respectfully, he doesn’t like or trust people. He showed up at that event by himself with no training and no help because someone told him it would be a good idea. He was one of two people that sent me a follow-up email the next day and the only person that I asked to call me. He’s a lump of coal, Remove the impurities, apply a lot of pressure and a lot of heat for a long enough period of time and you’ll get a diamond. Question is, can he take the pressure? Can he deal with the heat?

Finally, #3…Who knows? Start holding him accountable on a daily basis. Who did you call? Be specific. Don’t take numbers, take names. Track the names. Ask him what ever happened to…He may not know his ratios because nobody ever cared. Show him that you care. Debrief. Strategize.

Where can #1 improve? How can #2 turn contacts into dollars? Is #3 a superstar or a dud? Click here.

Death of a Sales Force

I tend not to waste time trying to close prospects that aren’t ready to buy, even if I could REALLY help them. I blow them up and move on. It’s not unusual for me to schedule some of these prospects for follow up every 6-12 months to see if they realized just how wrong they were to let me walk away. In 2006, Mike Eagan and I went through the process with a couple of college friends that owned a company. One of the partners had started the company, hired several family members, including his father and built a reputation. When the second friend graduated, he came in as a partner to handle the sales side of the business. They were very visible, pretty successful, and making some money. We met because they wanted their salespeople to sell more and they wanted to recruit better salespeople.

They were a $6 million company and the “sales” partner was selling $2 million. The other 6 salespeople did the other $4 million. When we visited the office, the sales partner had the company pipeline on a big board in his office and the question that he asked us was, “How come so much of the board was his?” I was sure that he used to ask his salespeople the same question in the same tonality. He was proud to be the top sales guy. His ego not only demanded that he be the top guy but he had to be the top guy by a lot. He was the problem. He couldn’t develop salespeople because he was too busy on his own agenda….his pipeline.

There were other issues in the company, but nothing would change until the sales guy learned how to manage or they replaced him in the function. When I mentioned this to the founder, he said, “Sales is his responsibility. If he wants help, he’ll hire you. If not, I’ll back him all the way.” I asked, “Even if it means you’ll never grow and may eventually go out of business.” He replied, “His call.”

Last time I called, the two partners were suing each other. The founder was in control of the company, but wouldn’t hire us because he hadn’t determined what he wanted to do.

Yesterday, I learned that they were out of business. I no longer have to follow up.

How was my title? Are you willing to allow your inadequate sales manager to kill your sales force and maybe your company?

Do you know that we can evaluate a sales manager as a sales manager as well as salespeople as salespeople?

If you’re willing and you care, forward this post to every CEO that you know.

Worried about the economy? Start Over!

Mike Kreppein over at Inquisix found a great article about success stories that started during a economic downturn.

Dharmesh Shah offers a few alternatives to software startups that are looking to reduce expenses.

Some companies not only survived a recession, but use the recession to catapult them to being a household name. I found myself asking the question, “So, what are the three things that I need to do tomorrow to grow through this economy like a startup?

I’ve sent a link to this article to both my friends, so don’t be surprised if they answer on their blogs.

Virtual training for reality

Pete Caputa posted about the components of internet marketing. Change a few words and he could just as easily have been writing about the components selling. Selling starts with data, requires software, skills and a network.

Notice the words that are missing between Pete’s post and the three sentences above. They’re the two words that make Pete’s post applicable and my three sentences potentially WRONG. You might be able to sell without data, software, skills and a network, but to have a successful sales strategy, you must have it all and do it all.

We evaluate to get the data. We use software to track it. We train and coach to develop skills and strengths. And our network is international.

Thanks, Pete!

Critical Sales Ratios

Have you ever asked anyone what their critical numbers are?

Ask a statistician and they’ll tell you that they have to make 67 dials. 15.4 people will answer and 6.31 of them will have a substantive conversation. 4.21 will meet with them. 1.8 will buy from a competitor. 1.2 will buy from them and 1.21 will never come out of hiding again.

Ask a networker and they’ll tell you that they have to go to 11 events to get 147 business cards. 37 people will call to have one on one meetings to get to know each other. No one will ever call to buy anything although 1.9 of the 37 one on ones will result in the networker buying something.

Have you ever gotten this answer? I call and call and call until somebody says, “OK. Come on over. I’ll look at tour stuff.” and nine out of ten times, they buy.

So, what’s my point?

CEO Supermen

Are you a CEO? Do you think that you’re Superman?


Are you?

I’ve heard Dave Kurlan speak to CEO groups several times. He frequently describes the duties of a sales manager and the time that it takes to do it effectively. Recruiting, coaching, mentoring, motivating and holding salespeople accountable. Then talking directly to the CEO’s in the audience, says, “So, I’ve just described a 60 hour a week job.” Then he  points out that if a CEO doesn’t have a sales manager, the CEO is the de facto sales manager. Which means that the CEO has TWO 60 hour a week jobs.

If you want to be a CEO, what job are you doing that you should not be doing?

Are you trying to sell? be a sales manager? an operations manager? the HR manager? fix your website? be the receptionist? office manager? mail clerk? payroll clerk? Do you make collection calls? keep the books? yada, yada, yada?

or are you doing the job of CEO and have other people doing what they’re good at?

Are you a crappy CEO or are you doing the other job(s) crappily?

I’m not talking to the business owners that want to stay small. If you’re the owner and you sell, deliver, bill and you’re happy…Great!

If you’re the owner and you’re looking to grow your company, what job are you doing that someone else should be doing because they could do it better? faster? cheaper?

Reality vs Virtuality vs Unreality

I attended a chamber breakfast this week. I met a very self confident guy who told me about his dream. To build his million dollar empire without business cards. When he asked for my business card, I explained that I had real business cards and cards that I gave to people that I thought were going to be annoying. He took the ‘annoying’ card.

Today, I received this email.



Who needs business cards when you have email and text messaging? It was a pleasure meeting you earlier this week at the Chamber of Commerce meeting in Marlborough. My only regret is that we didn’t get much time to talk about who you are and what inspires you. I would sincerely appreciate scheduling a time for us to get together next week to talk. As of right now I am available Tuesday, Thursday and Friday morning. If a lunch appointment would work better for you please let me know and I will arrange my schedule accordingly. I am forever grateful for you taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this note. Have a great weekend.

Best Regards,
I Am Awesome

p.s. I hope this email gets read before being placed in that “other” folder …

(Now, let’s face it. I warned him.)

I responded with:

Dear I Am Awesome,

A Yahoo address & and a cell phone aren’t enough to get you on my calendar. That’s why you have the card that I give to annoying people. Now it’s in the other folder.

Sent from my PDA.

He replied with:

Damn. Your tough. I have a Gmail and Hotmail address as well. I also live in a house in (a town that I know) which gives me a physical address. I guess you need to see some physical proof of that. Relationships are all about building trust – I get it.

Thanks for getting back to me – I think that’s a big step for our budding friendship.

Looking forward to staying in touch any way we can.

(To which I responded with a link to this blog.)

This guy is a winner. He’s strong, confident, and driven. He’s defining his mission and finding his way. Although he may act otherwise, re-read the recognition in his second email. So, I have two points.

From my perspective, just because someone appears to be a cocky, self absorbed ass, don’t assume that he is.

From his perspective, if you want to be a real business, get a real domain and use a real email address (not the ones the kids use) and a real phone number that’s attached to a street address.

More to follow?

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

I met Maggie last summer when she visited us at our beach in Maine. Understandably, when she visited, everyone was wearing bathing suits. I saw her at tonight’s event and my greeting was, “Hi, Maggie. You look different with clothes on.” Maggie smiled.

Elaine also remembered Maggie and greeted her with, “Hi, Maggie. You’ve lost weight.” Maggie replied, “I’ve been doing the South Beach diet. Thanks for noticing.” and they had an extended conversation.

The difference between boys and girls.

Adversity. Persevere anyway.

I just received this email from Dave Kurlan and decided that given the world’s state of affairs, I’d share it immediately.

From Dan Millman’s Newsletter Today

The Paradoxical Commandments

“I wrote these comments back in 1968, when I was nineteen, a college sophomore:

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do it anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

The Paradoxical Commandments are guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity. The paradox is this: even when things are tough — even when the world is crazy — we can still find personal meaning and deep happiness. We do that by facing the worst in the world with the best in ourselves. We do that by living a paradoxical life.

From the book Do It Anyway by Kent M. Keith (published by New World Library)