Sales Performance 2020

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S A L E S P E R F O R M A N C E 18 he first emotion is panic, even in the most seasoned sales leader. A downturn is imminent, or already here, and the usual fears assert themselves. Can we maintain revenue? Will we lose customers? If so, how do we replace them? The race is on to get sales vol- ume up so the company can ride out the crisis with minimal damage. The gut reaction is to press every shoulder to the wheel, but could that do more harm than good? By hitting the phones and stuffing the sales pipeline, could sales leaders be set- ting the organisation up for an even rockier ride, further down the line? Tamara McMillen, non-executive adviser to sales network CSO UK and until recently executive director of sales at Virgin Media Business, understands what it's like to try to drive sales volume in testing times. She was a senior manager in global sales at MCI during its acquisi- tion by Worldcom and just prior to the bursting of the dotcom bubble, around the turn of the millennium. "The challenge we face every day is making the numbers happen. But not just any numbers, [ones that make] profitable good business as well as retaining customers. The panic to make this happen is that we start making decisions against our better knowledge and go after everything rather than the right opportunities at the right time," she says. Scott Edinger, of Edinger Consulting, found himself in his first sales vice president's role at the start of the 2001 recession. This set him up to help out a client in the subsequent 2008 recession who, despite ramping up sales volume and increasing orders by 11 per cent, saw revenues shrink by 6 per cent. "You can chase lots of bad busi- ness in a recession," Edinger warns. "Make more calls, get more deals; that often backfires. It's the rare exception that a lousy prospect becomes a great client; they become troubling and difficult to deal with until someone wonders why you're doing business with them." It is a fact of life for many sales organisations that a great deal of activity garners compara- tively little in terms of sales vol- ume. Enterprise Engagement Alliance's chief executive Bruce Bolger estimates that 90 per cent of all phone calls are unre- turned, 90 per cent of completed calls lead nowhere and of the leads that look promising, only 10 per cent ever come to anything. McMillen notes that the sales exec- utive's thick skin is not a myth, but even this won't carry you through a downturn. "The sales mindset is very important. It's a profession where we fail more than we succeed and we have to be comfortable with getting 'no' or course-correcting." So how do you build up leads for when this all ends? Monitoring sales activity should, Edinger suggests, focus less on quantity and more on quality. "Use metrics that are pre- dictive of success. Revenue or num- ber of new clients is a scoreboard Alexander Safonov/Getty Images Focusing efforts solely on higher call volumes and increased activity may not be the right way out of the coronavirus crisis Why more can mean less in a downturn T Morag Cuddeford-Jones LinkedIn 2020 LinkedIn 2020 TOP ME TRIC S FOR ME ASURING SALES PERFORMANCE US survey of B2B sales professionals SALES CHALLENGES IN LOCKDOWN US survey of B2B sales professionals You can chase lots of bad business in a recession. Make more calls, get more deals; that often backfires S A L E S A C T I V I T Y Customer satisfaction Team quota met Customer retention Individual quota met 43% 37% 40% 37% predict a drop in hitting quotas/ closing deals 60% expect a fall in responsiveness to outreach 44% anticipate a decrease in pipeline 55%

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