In today's episode, we welcome Vantage Point Performance Partner and Cracking the Sales Management Code author Jason R. Jordan to the podcast to share strategies for creating sales KPIs and cutting down micromanagement.
Hear Jason and Ambition CEO Travis Truett discuss key findings from their vast client bases, which include many of today's leading B2B sales organizations, and share best practices for simplifying and improving sales performance management.
Ep. 37: How to Measure and Manage B2B Sales Teams
Introductions. 0:00 - 2:40.
Jason Jordan is a recognized thought leader in business-to-business selling and conducts ongoing research into the management best practices of world-class sales forces. For 20 years, Jason has worked internationally in industries such as technology, manufacturing, finance, telecom, health care, and hospitality.
His company, Vantage Point Performance, is the most prolific researcher on modern sales management topics this decade. In addition to writing books such as Cracking the Sales Management Code, Jason frequently contributes to Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur and elsewhere.
How to Know If Your Sales Force Is Any Good. 2:40 - 8:38. (Jump)
In his experience working with thousands of B2B enterprise sales organizations, Jason recalls one profound moment early in his career - where a sales leader at an international financial services company asked him how to know if his sales force is any good? More specifically, he wanted to know how to measure and understand sales team performance metrics, given that his sales force had multiple verticals, territories, and product offerings impacting the nature and difficulty-level of each team's sales process.
That conversation marked the genesis of Jason's immersion in the study of sales metrics and specialization in understanding how organizations measure their sales force. The biggest insight he discovered, published in Cracking the Sales Management Code, was that there were over 300 possible metrics a sales organization could be measuring. But only 17% of the metrics were activities that could actually be managed and coached. The rest were lagging indicators, efficiency metrics and sales objectives. In other words, sales managers spent too much time measuring things they couldn't control - when they needed to focus on managing the things they could control.
Jason ended up dividing sales metrics into three levels: sales activities, sales objectives, and business results. Jason found that the best sales organizations focused mostly on actively managing sales activities and tying those activities to sales objectives.
Adapting Sales Management for Modern Times. 8:38 - 19:44. (Jump)
The purchasing process - despite the major evolutions of sales technology of the past 20 years - is fundamentally the same. Core sales skills such as targeting, responsiveness, and interpersonal communication have not changed.
On the other hand, generational changes in buyer behavior is impacting communication channels and outreach strategies. In terms of B2B sales, reports show that Baby Boomers still prefer to make initial product inquiries via phone. Millennials, by contrast, prefer online communication as an initial touchpoint. This impacts the core sales activities that teams are tracking.
In Jason's experience, most if not all B2B sales professionals follow inside sales models as part of their day-to-day workflow. That has forced managers to adapt their strategies. As millennials continue ascending into sales management roles, Jason expects that generation to be comfortable navigating a management role that focuses largely on measuring and driving inside sales activities.
While some people fear the changes taking in place in sales, with some prognosticators predicting the death of B2B sales teams due to automation and the massive generational and technological shifts affecting commerce, Jason finds those fears unfounded. In general, Jason forecasts a strong future for B2B sales management, where improvements in automation and data analytics enable better coaching, smarter sales process, and more engaged reps.
How to Avoid Micromanaging. 19:44 - 30:47. (Jump)
Perhaps the most critical finding from Jason's research is also counter-intuitive: managing sales activity does not mean micromanaging.
Sales leaders often conflate 'manage sales activity' with 'increase activity volume'. In fact, Jason's research finds that the #1 motivator for sales reps is clarity of task - even more than money. Managing sales activity is not about 'cracking the whip'. It's about establishing clear focus and direction for reps on a daily basis.
The highest-performing B2B sales organizations are led by managers who a) focus reps on the right behaviors; b) set clear goals for those behaviors; and c) track and incentivize achievement of those goals. At a recent event, Jason heard the SVP for a global sales organization outline the most successful strategy he had ever implemented as a sales leader. That strategy was simple: the SVP discovered that a certain activity was the #1 correlator for success for his reps. He did away with financial quotas, implemented an activity quota for each rep, and created a points-system that scored reps based on activity and provided financial incentives for hitting activity goals, as opposed to financial goals. His reps were initially reticent - but quickly grew to love the system. It liberated them from being measured on KPIs not fully under their control. It rewarded them for KPIs over which they had complete control.
That experience mirrors those of Ambition clients who have successfully tied incentives and points systems to sales activity. Examples of those strategies can be found here, here, and in this Harvard Business Review case study on a Fortune 1000 Ambition client who implemented this exact strategy with incredible results.
Latest Research on Modern Sales Management. 30:47 - 33:03. (Jump)
Jason's partner at Vantage Point, Michelle Vazzana, is conducting some innovative new research on sales management activities. Instead of focusing on sales rep behavior, the study focuses on behaviors of high-performing sales managers. What types of meetings do they hold? What is the focus of their 1:1s.? And so forth.
Jason also has a pet project, which is a new book he's authored under a pen name, entitled Sales Insanity: 20 True Stories of Epic Sales Blunders (and how to avoid them yourself). The book includes 20 of the most ridiculous, real-life sales screw-ups Jason has witnessed in his years of consulting. You can also visit Vantage Point Performance, which has a wonderful resource center filled with podcasts, webinars, and tons of other material covering best practices for sales managers - ranging from forecasting to coaching.
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The Sales Influencer Series Library
To check out further episodes and see why CloserIQ has ranked the Sales Influencer Series as one of the very best sales podcasts of 2016, just click on the links below.
Episode 1. John Barrows
Episode 2. Lori Richardson
Episode 3. Max Altschuler
Episode 4. Matt Heinz
Episode 5. Mark Leslie
Episode 6. Kyle Porter
Episode 7. Jon Bradford
Episode 8. Eks Anderson
Episode 9. Matt Hottle
Episode 10. Heather Morgan
Episode 11. Ilan Ferdman
Episode 12. Ryan Jenkins
Episode 13. Tamara Schenk
Episode 14. Mike Weinberg
Episode 15. Scott Britton
Episode 16. Mark Kosoglow
Episode 17. Dionne Mischler
Episode 18. Ken Barton
Episode 19. Kevin Karner
Episode 20. Jill Rowley
Episode 21. Brandon Redlinger
Episode 22. Will Wickey
Episode 23. Drew Woodcock
Episode 24. Dail Wilson
Episode 25. Nathan Sexton
Episode 26. Tucker Max
Episode 27. Bruce Tulgan
Episode 28. Dallas Hogensen
Episode 29. Morgan J. Ingram
Episode 30. J. Ryan Williams
Episode 31. Emily Mikailli
Episode 32. Lee Bartlett
Episode 33. Rex Biberston
Episode 34. Marcus Cauchi
Episode 35. Gary Vaynerchuk
Episode 36. Joe Gianni