When it comes to defining success, I don’t believe there is an art to it. When I google “What Makes a Work of Art Successful”, these two quotes validate that, when it comes to defining sales success, it is best not to be arbitrary or hope for a consensus.
1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
2a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study the science of theology b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge have it down to a science.
It is safe to say that if, within your sales culture, you have “defining success” down to a science, then you will be in a better position to:
- Identify metrics that determine success
- Know what leading indicators lead to success
- Define the goal to be achieved
- Build an effective sales action plan and data driven sales approach
Companies collect lots of data and sales managers do their very best to spin a good story when outcomes are not equal to or greater than expectations (goals). Here are some examples of how outcomes are described when attempting to put a good spin on a bad outcome:
- We are trending the right direction
- Our year over year production is positive
- We are outperforming our peer group
- We have gone from #____ in stack ranking to #______
- We will finish in the top percentile of our district
- _____% of our team will qualify for incentive compensation
Those descriptions tell you nothing about how a team is actually performing.
What to do instead to build a data driven sales approach:
- Identify metrics that are critical success factors for your organization. (In most organization the #1 metric is revenue – it pays the bills.)
- Establish standards for those metrics that exceed previous performance levels and are consistent with what the market will allow. (You wouldn’t expect an operating unit in Bangor Maine to produce the same loan revenue as you would an operating unit in Manhattan.)
- Make sure you are looking at execution metrics so that your success is duplicable and you can identify choke points when there is failure.