My secret consulting question. Would you have the right answer?

Let me tell you a little consulting secret.

When I talk to a sales leader for the very first time I can usually get a handle on the sales culture inside their organisation with just one question.

“How are the team doing compared to target”? – Now, I’m not looking to determine whether they are beating target or whether they are behind. This is largely irrelevant in this particular conversation. It’s the level of detail the leader supplies in their reply that I find to be most valuable. What I see is, the greater the detail, the more granular the numbers, the more switched on the leadership generally are.

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For example: If a sales leaders tell me “the team is currently at 92% of target for the month and Gary has a deal which is very likely to close, as does Mary, and Bob has another which is probably less likely to close… but even if only one of those gets done by the EOM, then we will end up at least 101.5% That’ll be a pass for us”. Or

“Nope, we are only at 57% and even if absolutely everything closed that the team say we are going to close we would still be short by more than 9%”. These two examples tell me the leaders have a grasp on the business situation.

Conversely, replies like these below have me worried.

“We should be good to go, the team have a bunch of deals they are working on and we are really going to hit the phones on Thursday to round up some new deals after last weeks roadshow” OR

“No chance, the market’s pretty tough at the moment and August is always a killer of a month. We should make it up in Sept though”

What gets MEASURED gets done

INSPECT what you EXPECT.

I find the higher the level of clarity a sales leader has about where they are and how they got there, from a sales perspective, the better positioned they are as a leader.

If they have no idea where they are, how the hell are they going to get to wherever they think they’re going.

Why does this happen? People hide from the facts, they place their head-in-the-sand, especially when the news is expected to be bad. It’s the same reason why people who want to lose weight but aren’t, don’t jump on the scales daily and people who are really sick choose to not go to the Doctor. If you don’t know for sure, it’s easier for you can deny it. Unsurprisingly, it is called the “Ostrich effect”.

Guess what? Salespeople are exactly the same. Try it out in conversation and let me know how you go? I bet I’m right.

Self-reflection time. Whether you’re a sales leader, an entrepreneur, a consultant or quota-carrying seller, how well do you know your numbers? Get clarity and really own the fine detail and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can reach those metrics. Regardless of how scary they might look initially, because in most cases, what’s even scarier is not reaching those sales metrics at all.

Let me know how you go with those conversations.

Mark Mc

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