How to Avoid the Trap of "Making Sales People Busy"?

We recently launched Sales Pipeline Academy to help you improve your sales (pipeline) skills. We've received several good follow-up questions, here's one from our customer George:

“Many companies drive number of visits by their sales people. But this can drive the wrong behavior - lots of random meetings. Don't get me wrong - it's important to be in front of the customer. But it needs to be in front of the RIGHT customer -- one that has a good fit with the product. /…/ 
What do you encourage companies’ management to monitor to prevent this trap of making sales people busy on the wrong kinds of visits?"

This is a great question (boy do we love good questions, so keep ‘em coming!) and this inspired me to reply in the form of a blog post. First and foremost, you'd need to convince the company management to get rid of the EITHER OR mindset.

The key principle is that you should only be having meetings with qualified clients. If a salesperson is spending time seeing unqualified clients then he’s made a mistake in an earlier stage. Not qualifying or not doing it well enough can indeed lead to the wrong kind of behavior. However, you CAN measure qualification success. And what you can measure, you can control.

I'd suggest three things to address this issue:

  1. Monitor stage-to-stage conversion -- in this part of your sales pipeline analysis, take your top sales agent and see how many leads he/she qualifies from stage to stage.
  2. You can set this conversion rate as a benchmark for the rest of company. If the standard sets out a 50% stage-to-stage conversion, but one agent takes it up to 75% without closing more deals in the end, then it’s clear he’s bringing along too many unqualified leads.
  3. Last but not least, keep in mind when you're setting benchmarks for conversion (or anything else) that you need to sell and explain them to the team. The implementation of the benchmark cannot be successful if you bluntly impose it upon people.

Having an effective lead management system in place will free up your salespeople to dedicate their valuable time on more important parts of the sale. 

Happy closing!