Don’t Hit More Balls!

Using a sports analogy; a sports coach doesn’t just measure how many times a sports person hits the cricket ball (inputs) and how many times they score runs (outputs).  They also invest heavily in ensuring that person knows how to hit the ball properly, how to remain calm under pressure, how to be goal focused etc. When the sports person isn’t scoring runs, the coach doesn’t just say ‘hit more balls’. 

It is easy for sales leaders to focus on the numbers.  This can be the ‘outputs’ or sales results and the ‘inputs’ or sales activity.

If you solely focus on measuring outputs or results you are reactionary.  You have to wait until you have an output (or don’t) to react.  This doesn’t tell what is being done to generate these outputs – and this assumes your sales team knows what to do to generate these outputs.  You can also get outputs which aren’t aligned to how the business would like this to occur.  You risk a sales ‘at all expense’ type behaviour. 

In focusing on inputs, there is a risk here of getting what you measure.  If you ask a sales person to make 10 sales calls a week – it is highly likely you will get 10 sales calls a week. 

Doing the activity is easy – but does this always lead to the outputs?  No, in fact in many situations the activity focus can just create noise in the network.  Wasted effort.  People doing things to meet numbers, not to achieve results.  As a leader, you need to be mindful that asking for more activity isn’t always correlated to results.

Outputs matter.  Sales exist to produce or retain revenue.  This is the single most important sales metric in most situations – it must be measured.

Input measures get activity.  Output measures show the outputs (they don’t necessarily produce them).  As a sales leader – you are accountable for shaping the quality of these activities and outputs.

What your sales team do and achieve is important – but these are just factor of how and why they do them.  Yes, that sales call is important as an activity – but how the call is actioned is more important (the content, the cadence, the engagement with the client) and WHY the call was made in the first place is even more important.   

Sales success comes from doing the right things properly and for the right reason, not just doing things.


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