It’s not too difficult to imagine a sales manager who also happens to like to play golf. Last week I had the strangest conversation with a guy who fits that description. It was at a networking event for sales executives and consultants who provide services to them.
Being the continuous improvement geek that I am, I asked this individual how he goes about coaching the sales professionals on his team. He responded by explaining his 4-step process.
- Invest a minimum of 2 days every week out in the field, making calls with his team members
- Follow up each each call with a discussion to identify strengths and weaknesses
- Write down an action plan to quickly address the weaknesses
- Follow up the next week to make sure that plan is being implemented
Simple, straightforward and eminently sensible!
My next question was, “How do you know your process works?” His response was, “Sales are up!” “Great,” say I, “but how do you know your process works?” The response, accompanied by a disconcerted look was, “Because sales are up.” “That’s the only thing you measure to judge skills improvement,” I asked. “What else matters?” he said. “That’s the only thing I care about and the only thing I measure. Why waste my time using some CRM system or whatever to track all kinds of other stuff.” At that point I let it go.
Later in the evening I bumped into the same guy and for whatever reason we started talking about golf. He was genuinely charged up about improving his game and waxed eloquent about his new process for doing so. He pulled out the following chart. (Which he got from golfforensics.com.)
He enthusiastically explained how the 19 multiple choice descriptors enabled him to track 49 distinct shot scenarios relative to 8 aspects of the result of each stroke for each round played. “That’s a total of 392 different measurements of how well I execute a shot vs. my plan for that shot.”
He went on to talk about how those numbers could be combined in various ways to further enable him to examine and get deeper and deeper insights into how he could improve his performance in the larger context of a competitive match. “I can look at how well I do, for example in terms recovering from a bad shot and still making par because I’m good with my putter on the greens. I know because of those numbers, that most times I should to lay up short because I’m good at hitting greens from 150 to 175 yards out. I’ve identified literally hundreds and hundreds of aspects of my game that I can work on to improve.”
Hundreds and hundreds of metrics applied to improve his golf score and one metric to improve the sales performance of his team? What’s wrong with this picture?
What’s your sales equivalent to the golf forensics? Or is your sales skills improvement process so much less important than your performance on the links?