In my experience as a sales performance expert, I have learned that mistakes are better teachers than successes.  With that in mind, it is my hope that there will be some valuable lessons for you as we review some of the most common mistakes to building a successful sales force:

Mistake #5:  Systems and metrics for measurement are not used.

An extension of Mistake #3 is the fact that many companies do not keep track of much of anything.  They allow salespeople to hoard all the information without sharing, or they allow salespeople to share information in a subjective rather than objective manner.  And far too frequently company leaders only focus on closed business and the pipeline, and many times those pipelines are either pipe dreams or are incomplete due to sand-bagging salespeople.

Here is what I mean.  Rather than letting salespeople be the keeper of the information, there must be a common database of suspects, prospects, etc., and  salespeople need to be held accountable for keeping the information updated and accurate.  If the deal closes without being in the system, they do not get paid.  Systems and metrics go hand-in-hand with holding salespeople accountable.  Make it easy on yourself and establish standards at the outset.  Set expectations for activities that will lead to closed business.  Let the senior company executives focus on the lagging indicators of proposals out and closed business.  You need to focus not only on those lagging indicators, but also on the leading indicators that will produce those results and get your salespeople focused there as well.  To do this effectively, you must have access to all the information.  For instance, make 100 calls per week to speak with 30 people to get 10 appointments.  You should be able to identify for a new salesperson exactly what they need to do everyday to be successful with complete specificity.  This requires a complete understanding of the metrics which you can only get if you have a system in place and require salespeople to be stalwart in their completion of the information.

Become a hawk on the front end numbers and make your life easier, make it easier for your salespeople to focus their energy in the right manner, and spend time on the right activities.

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