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Don’t manage numbers — manage behavior | Smart Thinking » Cathy Atkins

Don’t manage numbers — manage behavior | Smart Thinking » Cathy Atkins

Numbers, numbers, everywhere. Many salespeople invest significant time attempting to manage numbers: revenue sold, profit margins, closing ratios, contacts in their database, prospects contacted, meetings scheduled, proposals being developed, presentations scheduled, prospects with whom to follow up, number of prospects in various stages of the pipeline, decisions that are (hopefully) forthcoming. Salespeople track, tally and compute the likelihood of closing all of these numbers.
Cathy Atkins
Cathy Atkins
Although numbers may present a big picture of potential business, they are not controllable. And if you can’t control them, you can’t manage them.
You can’t control, for example, how many contacts in your database fit the profile of your ideal prospect. You can’t control how many prospects will be available to take your phone call, nor can you control how many will be willing to speak or meet with you.
You can’t control how many prospects will have a need for your product or service or how many of the prospects who do need your product will have a large enough budget to accommodate the purchase. You can’t control inventory supply or legal departments.
Get the picture?
There is so much that you can’t control, you might think it’s hopeless. It’s not.
Focus instead on what you can control. The one thing over which you have absolute control is your own behavior. You can control how many times you pick up the phone and make a prospecting call. You can control how often you ask for referrals from prospects and customers and how quickly and in what manner you follow up on leads and referrals. And that which you can control, you can manage.
If you break down your selling behaviors and sales activity history, you should discover a pattern. You should discover that, on average, it takes contacting a certain number of prospects to schedule one appointment. A percentage of those initial appointments progress to the presentation stage, and a percentage of presentations result in a sale.
Armed with that information, you can come up with your personal sales plan. When you calculate the numbers, you will know what it takes from a behavior standpoint to close one sale. If you need four sales for the month, for example, you can determine exactly what your behavior needs to be to hit your goal. If, for instance, your analysis indicates you need 200 contacts to start the process that will result in four sales, you can identify the most appropriate activities for contacting prospects and schedule time to perform them.
Once you have identified the appropriate behaviors required to reach your goals and you’ve scheduled time to perform them, then all that is left for you to do is to follow through. If you are committed to your goals — and you do the behavior — the important numbers, the ones that count in the long run (closed sales), will follow.
In sales, activity is not productivity. I’ve met many busy salespeople who never could take it to the bank. Smart, successful salespeople focus on what they can control, create a plan and then work that plan with focus and determination.
© 2011 Sandler Systems Inc. Sandler Training is a global leader in sales and management training and consulting. Catherine Atkins is a specialist in systematic business development and behavioral change. Visit, or email at [email protected].
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