Friday, November 16, 2012

Moneyball: Sales Performance by the Numbers


Actually, this article isn’t about your standard numbers. We won’t touch on revenue, percentage of quota, customer retention, etc. This article is about your ICP – that is to say, your Ideal Competency Profile numbers.

At the end of the day and the end of the year, you know what you’re evaluated on. But it’s your ICP numbers that will help to increase your close rate and put money in your pocket.

How are you going to improve your ICP?  Two simple strategies:
  1. Increase your access to coaching
  2. Sabermetrics = Moneyballing:  Tracking your numbers statistically instead of theoretically
66% of Sales Reps believe that increasing the time invested by sales managers would help to increase their sales.
Proper coaching is paramount if you truly want to increase your own competencies en route to becoming a Hall of Famer for your squad. Are you among this 66%?

Improve Your Player Averages – Push for Coaching
Sales Coaching

Don’t wait for your manager to come to you. Go to your manger and get the training / coaching that you need and deserve. Now is the time to leverage this option. You’re at a point in the year where you are discussing 2013. Your manager obviously wants you to succeed and hit these numbers.

How do you achieve this?

Give him the squeeze - In baseball terms, you may have your manager in a pickle between 1st and 2nd base. Employ the old Give-Get strategy to negotiate more coaching, training and metric-based analytics. Now is the perfect time to approach the subject when you’re in discussions regarding quota, compensation and 2013 goals.  After all, sales management is responsible for Sales Performance Management.
Build those skills by utilizing the tools around you. Your manager is one of those tools. Your HR department may be another. Oftentimes HR is familiar with which competencies to evaluate, and you may be able to use this to improve your performance. If HR doesn’t have this knowledge, they can contact SBI to establish the right benchmarking criteria.

Moneyballing: Improving Sales Competencies
If you want to succeed, your 2013 strategy can’t simply be “Sell more,” or “Sell better.” That’s like a baseball team missing the playoffs saying, “Well, next year we’ll just win more games.” It doesn’t work that way.

Sabermetrics is a form of analysis made famous by the movie “Moneyball.” It basically defied conventional baseball logic when determining skills levels of individual players. (For example: Batting average was no longer the most important factor. Instead, the greater focus was on how frequently a player got on base.) It took a more mathematical, micro approach to winning baseball games. Don’t just “score more runs.” Get more guys on base to increase your chances of scoring. In sales terms, it’s not just improving your close rate, you’re improving everything that leads to more referrals, increased sales and reduced sales cycle length.
The same Moneyballing logic can be applied to your own sales performance. In order to improve your selling skills, you need to improve your competencies piece by piece. The thought process isn’t to just “make more sales.” It’s to “get better at discovering prospect needs” – which in turn leads to more sales.

There’s a reason world-class athletes seek out coaching. You’ve developed a selling style that is uniquely yours, but perhaps it’s time to have your coach make a small adjustment in your delivery or the way you address the ball…or customer. These tweaks could be the difference between a good year and a great year. Now is the time to incorporated talent management in your lineup.

The key with this process is to think about your selling on a practical, instead of theoretical, level. Each step in your selling process is a building block. As you perfect each block, your selling becomes stronger as a whole.

What to Improve – A List of Competencies
SBI has compiled a list of over 50 competencies that we use to assess various roles in the sales department, from the CSO to the Lead Development Rep. You could call it our version of Moneyballing. All subjectivity is removed - at least as much as possible. All that remains is an analysis of performance, and opportunities for growth.

Below is snapshot from a talent assessment, which shows a partial list around the competency of Sales Skills.

Sales Competencies

These competencies have been standardized. We determine the weight and rank of each competency as it applies to your organization. Get the template at this event.

Don’t trash the article just yet. You don’t need to work on 50 competencies. If you’re like most sales folks, you’re probably thinking, “I’d rather have my toenails pulled out one by one while taking a verbal lashing.” If you’re an individual contributor, you should be focused on 12 to 15. If you’re in management or above, you’ll need about 15 to 20. Here are a few examples to help get you thinking:
  • Selling Skills: With 14 attributes such as sales approach, negotiating and active listening
  • Selling Knowledge: 7 attributes including pricing methods, margin analysis and proposal
  • Personal Skills: 9 attributes including analysis, creativity and risk taking
  • Interpersonal Skills: 8 attributes including resourcefulness, adaptability and independence
  • Motivational Skills: 8 attributes including tenacity, ambition and passion
Sales Competencies and Moneyballing: It’s not a shot in the dark. It’s the same logic that is taking the world by storm: using (sometimes unconventional) data to make informed decisions and improve performance.  In hindsight, I’ll bet Mitt Romney wishes he’d had data scientist Nate Silver (sabermetrics guru) in his corner reading the stats. He might have helped with a pre-election adjustment or two.