Top Salespeople Manage What They Measure

Now that you’re two months into 2007, have you given much thought to how you plan to increase your productivity this year; that is, your sales and gross margin?

If you are compensated on the basis of a commission or if you can earn a bonus by achieving certain sales and/or gross margin goals, you are a fortunate salesperson because you are — to a large extent — in charge of your financial destiny. Your raise becomes effective when you do.

Most employees would kill for such an opportunity. But to take full advantage of this coveted opportunity, you must generate more results.

As a salesperson with your pay tied to productivity, there are only three ways to earn a higher income:

1. You can sell more to your existing customers.

2. You can bring in new customers that currently buy from the competition.

3. You can improve the gross margin you generate in 2007 versus the gross margin you generated in 2006.

In survey after survey, salespeople report that TIME is their number one challenge. They say that if they only had more time, or if they were able to manage their time more effectively, that they could sell more.

Well, we all have 24 hours a day, so one of the few ways all salespeople are equal is with respect to time. It’s how salespeople use these 24 hours that separates the high achievers from those that are struggling to keep the many balls they’re juggling now up in the air.

The secret is to periodically measure where your time is going. My recommendation is for at least two weeks per year, keep a time log and determine how your time is being spent — and where you are wasting time. You can create for yourself 1.56 additional weeks a year if you can figure out a way to stop wasting just 15 minutes per day.

Here’s how the math works: 15 minutes per day times 5 days = 75 minutes per week times 50 weeks per year = 3750 minutes per year divided by 60 minutes in an hour = 62.5 hours per year divided by 40 hours = 1.56 additional work weeks per year.

Figure out how to stop wasting 30 minutes per day and you will pick up the equivalent of 3.12 additional work weeks a year.

Just a few weeks ago a friend of mine (Jim Meisenheimer at told me that instead of watching TV until 11 p.m. and getting up at 6:00 a.m., he was going to begin going to bed at 9 p.m. and getting up at 4:30 a.m. So I decided to give this idea a try.

Using the above mathematical calculations, I began going to bed at 10 PM versus 9 PM and began getting up at 5:15 AM instead of 6:15 AM, so you can see that I picked up an additional two hours per day that I did not have with my old schedule.

PROSPECTING: Do you have a list of creditworthy prospects written down on a sheet of paper to pursue in 2007? How many monthly prospect calls will you commit to in 2007? After you’ve made these commitments, you must monitor your activities at the end of each week to make sure that you’ve not drifted back into your old habits.

FACE TIME: How much “face time” do you spend with customers and prospects each week? If you could do a better job of organizing your day so that you would have more “face time” with your customers and prospects, you’re productivity should improve significantly. So you may wish to add “face time” to what you measure each week.

QUOTE TO ORDER RATIO: What percentage of your quotes become orders? The typical salesperson will only convert 20% to 25% of all quotes into orders. If you are not happy with your quote to order ratio, maybe you’re quoting too indiscriminately. If you’re quoting too much, you’re probably spending too much time on the process of working up prices for your bids. At between three and four hours per bid, you may be wasting too much time using the biding process as a marketing tool.

Are you a salesperson or a “quoteperson?”

Quoting is not selling. Quoting is a task. Selling is persuading a customer or prospect to make a buying decision that is in his or her best interest. If you offer the greatest value (a combination of service, quality and price), that means more customers buying from you versus buying from the competition.

So set a goal for 2007 to improve your quote to order ratio by x number of percentage points.

PERSONAL MARKETING PLAN: What will you do to market yourself more effectively in 2007 that you didn’t do in 2006?

Will you send customers and prospects more thank-you notes? Send postcards to your customers and prospects when you go on vacation? Publish a personal contractor newsletter with money-making ideas your customers and prospects will value? Remember that for your sales to take off, you must be on the customer’s and prospect’s minds when they are ready to buy.

If you have quite a few competitors in your market selling the same kinds of products you sell, with similar service and with a similar level of quality, one of your first decisions is figuring out how to persuade customers and prospects to do business with you instead of with one of your competitors. This is what selling is all about.

We all have 24 hours in a day. But to optimize your selling time, you must do a better job of managing how you spend your time. Try keeping score in 2007 and I believe you will find several opportunities to get more productivity out of your day.