Activity breeds results.

In sales, truer words have never been spoken. While we often chase results, the savvy sales professional knows that results come from activity. Activity comes from passion, discipline and focus. So let me preface what I am going to say this week by first and foremost highlighting that in no way am I saying smart sales people cherry pick. I’ve seen sales people of mediocre talent crush their numbers because they did the right amount of prospecting, and I’ve seen masterfully smart sales people fail to hit results because they were trying to pick and choose who to call in with too much prejudice on what constitutes a good prospect.

That said, there is a trap in focusing on just being busy. You can be busy and inefficient at the same time. You can be putting lots of activity on lots of accounts, and then realize that none of that activity is quality activity, which I define as activity that moves the prospect forward towards a yes or a no decision.

I’ve consulted with several companies that played what I call the “bookend game”. Meaning they tracked sales (end result) and calls (front end input). As a result, they were constantly praising some of the reps who had the highest number of calls, even though many of them were not top producers. The blind spot these companies had made them unaware of what was happening in the sales pipeline, and hence made forecasting almost impossible.

I’ve also consulted with a company that monitored and managed based on “talk time”, the amount of time a sales rep was on the phone. They monitored it as an input, even though talk time is actually an output, and more problematically, a completely useless output in terms of predicting sales success.

I’m a big believer in two things when it comes to activity.

  1. The two most important things to track are meetings set and meetings held. Those two activities are controllable elements that have the most impact on sales results. Your salespeople, telling your story, to your prospective customers is what will make your sales organization successful.
  2. There is a weekly tipping point on this activity that will pay dividends when a sales person hits it. Below that line sales people will struggle to perform, but much past that line will pay diminishing results.

So, ask yourself if what you do every day is productive. Then find that tipping point of return and have the discipline to do that activity every day. For example, I commit to 60 minutes a day on Linkedin. I’ve set a mininum number of “touches” need to hit in that 60 minutes. Could be congratulating someone who’s just gotten a promotion, or messaging someone with a idea, or sharing good relevant content. I’ve found that very productive. Doesn’t mean I should do it 8 hours a day, but it does mean I should do it every day.

A sales rep who makes 1000 calls a day but really connects to know one is less productive than one who makes 50 calls a day but connects w 10 quality decision makers. There is a balance to be found in activity, as in all things.