Improvement Starts with Tracking
Making the decision to get better at something takes some guts.
You have to look at the things you’re doing wrong or not doing well enough. You have to come face-to-face with your flaws and gaps in knowledge.
That’s why most salespeople refuse to track their numbers. All of their numbers, not just how many deals they close or how much money they have in the bank.
Let’s face it. Not tracking how many conversations you have a week or how many follow-ups and touch-ins you do a month is a salesperson’s version of an ostrich sticking their head in the sand.
And it’s a sign that a salesperson is content about never improving.
Think about the universal goal so many people have: losing weight.
It’s easy to think you’re doing everything right if you’re not tracking how many calories you take in a day, how many times you exercise and for how long and hard, and your measurements and weight.
The truth is, you don’t really know how well you’re doing. And then you step on the scale a month later and it hasn’t changed.
But then you start tracking these things, and you start to see why you’re not losing weight. Then it’s easier to make the necessary adjustments, and those numbers will start to go down.
It’s the same in sales.
You might be hitting your quota every month, but it’s a sweat. Or you’d like to be blowing it out of the water and bringing in more commission, a higher paycheck.
It’s hard to figure out how to do that if you don’t know how you’re getting to the numbers you’re already hitting.
Before you really know what you’re looking at, you need a baseline.
Look at each step of your process and make a spreadsheet. Or, even better, add each step into your CRM.
Start to track everything from cold calling, finding or being given a lead, to how many times you follow-up after the deal is closed. Track every phone call/meeting, every email. Even track the tasks you need to complete before and in between these interactions, such as research on the prospect or questions you didn’t immediately have an answer for.
You also need to track how many prospects you have in your pipeline and how long each step of your sales process takes. If it takes you two weeks to remember to follow-up with a prospect, that might not be something you realize until you track it each time.
At this point though, it’s not about changing your process or improving your numbers. You need to know what you’ve been doing so that you can see what you can do better.
That’s the name of the game, getting better.
We’ve talked before about how important it is for sales managers or business owners to hold their salespeople accountable for more metrics than just ‘deals closed.’ When you’re tracking every part of your sales process, they see the proof that you’re working hard towards making sure you bring in the most qualified clients and close the best deals.
But sales culture won’t change overnight, and most managers and owners are only going to track what is easiest and has the most immediate impact on profit.
That means it’s on you, the salesperson, to track each step of your sales process. Assuming you want to improve, that is.
Additionally, salespeople are typically left to their own devices to hit their numbers. Sure, they’re given quotas and, as terrible as they can be, scripts. But most of the time, nobody cares how you hit your numbers as long as you hit them.
One of the worst things about sales culture is that training (beyond product knowledge and company policies) often doesn’t exist. Salespeople are expected to just know how to sell. This leads them to believing that they’ve either got it or they don’t.
If you’re in the camp that thinks you’ve got it, you might not think you need to track or improve. But you’d be wrong.
If you think you don’t have what it takes, you’re probably on your way out of the industry anyway. Don’t do it, you can get better!!!
For the record, there is no sales gene. Some people are more comfortable communicating with strangers than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to close more deals.
You can read tons of books, take seminars, and learn everything you can about improving your communication skills to sell easier. And you will improve. Eventually.
But tracking and analyzing your numbers will give you a shortcut towards that improvement. You can read books about making cold calling more successful all day, but if you have a full pipeline with deals that consistently fall apart due to not being qualified well, then cold calling isn’t the problem.
Don’t waste your time, don’t stick your head in the sand. Track everything, look for the holes, and then work towards closing them.