I recently read “Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance” by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana. The authors present a central premise that is so obvious but it’s one I see routinely ignored in sales management: You can’t manage to revenue results. Or, as one of the selling programs I use says, “Relying on revenue results to learn about sales problems helps you discover that you are too late to fix them.”

I believe sales leaders are conditioned this way because they are managed to revenue results. And that’s the way they then in turn manage down. A good example is when a sales manager pressures his or her staff people into committing to a public revenue number during monthly or quarterly sales meetings. The reality is, if sales cycles are four months or more, those results are already pretty much determined. So what’s the point?

In fact, most sales are won or lost in the first one or two calls, right at the very beginning of the sales cycle. So, shouldn’t management focus its efforts on making sure sales people are doing the right things early in the sales cycle? This is where sales people can best position themselves, your offerings, and your company with buyers in your target markets. Isn’t that what really should be shared with the rest of the sales team – the activities that lead to results?

Unfortunately, I think it’s easier to manage to results than dig down and understand any real correlation between activities and revenue results. I know firsthand working with clients that the myriad of pipeline reports, forecasts, and dashboards just adds to the frustration of identifying what’s really important to focus on for improved performance.

The authors of the book do a very good job of bringing order to the sometimes chaotic world of sales and business performance measurement. But more important is their straightforward framework for connecting sales activities to objectives and then to business results. The concept seems simple. The difficulty is the execution when you are under the gun to produce results. I recommend you read the book and think about what you can do in your own environment to bring focus to those activities that you can better manage to achieve breakthrough results.

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