How To Turn It Around & Hit Your Sales Target
Posted on February 28, 2017
Would you agree that sales and sport have a number of similarities?
Both sales and sport are challenging, rewarding, and can be a lot of fun (especially if you’re doing well).
And while there are many glaring differences, there is one specific area where this comparison makes a lot of sense. That area is metrics; particularly those that give us an insight into who is winning, and who is losing.
Next time you watch a sports match on TV, take note of the dizzying array of metrics that are provided by commentators and the fancy ticker tapes along the bottom of your screen.
Most sports broadcasts tend to provide information about metrics like:
- Attempts at goal (and successful defences)
- Percentage of possession
- Distance covered by the team and individual players
- Penalty attempts
- The list goes on and on!
Whether you’re into football, basketball, baseball or just about any other sport in the world, there is almost certainly a great number of metrics that can give insight into the performance of a team or individual competitor.
But at the end of the day, only one metric really counts - the final score.
Think about how often you watch a sports match, and there's one team that seems to be doing better than the other when you look at the metrics of the game (they've had more possession, made more attempts at goal etc). However, when all is said and done it turns out that the team that appeared to have been playing worse is actually the team that won - they had a higher final score.
No matter how you try and spin it, the team that gets the higher final score is the winner ... even if they lost out on every other metric that can be used to paint a picture of performance. You've probably even experienced this yourself. Maybe your favorite team lost a match that you thought they really should have won (because by all appreciable measures, they played better). It can be a painful feeling indeed!
In sport, the final score is the metric that a team or individual “lives or dies by”. Everything else is secondary, and likely to be forgotten in light of the final score.
Think about the 2014 Football World Cup semi-final between Germany and Brazil. You’d be lucky to find anybody - even the most ardent supporter of either team - who could remember how many shots each side had on goal, and how many successful tackles were made. However, everybody who watched around the world can remember the emphatic and authoritative manner in which Germany won, and many can recall the almost unbelievable 7-1 score line!
And guess what? Sales is no different!
Think about all the statistics and metrics you can probably pull out of your CRM with a few mouse clicks, e.g.:
- Number of leads in your pipeline
- How often you’ve been following up with lead
- Number of proposals sent out
- Time spent traveling to see clients and prospects
- The list goes on!!!
While all of these tie in together and help paint an overall picture of how things are tracking for you, none of these metrics are as important as the one score that truly counts:
“Are you hitting or missing your sales targets”
No matter how well you might be getting on with other metrics, if you’re not currently hitting your sales targets (or if you’re not on track to do so) then you are losing out in the one place where it truly counts.
Long story short, if you aren't hitting your target, then it doesn't matter how good you look in terms of those other metrics like number of leads in your pipeline or frequency of follow-ups. Hitting or missing your target is the only score that really counts!
This means that if you are at risk of missing your target, then you need to do something about it.
There is one other extremely useful metric that I just want to mention at this stage. That is what we here at Numerik call the "run rate". Simply put, this is looking at where you are up to in terms of sales versus where you should be, in order to determine if you are on track to make quota or likely to fall behind.
Always keep your "run rate" in mind. It will help serve as a source of motivation. Either you're ahead (and you'll feel motivated to keep doing what you're doing) or you're behind and you can formulate a plan to turn things around and catch up ... which brings us to:
How to Turn It Around & Hit Your Targets
So, what can you do if you’re not on track to hit your targets in this period? Whether you’ve been struggling for a while to meet your targets, or you’re finding yourself in this unfortunate position for the first time, there are a number of activities you can undertake to try and turn things around and get back on track.
At this stage, it’s important to point out that the following advice is all about actions you can take to hit the target you have assigned in your current period. Many sales blogs and websites tend to frame strategies for hitting targets/quotas in the context of laying groundwork for future periods. For example, if you’re behind in Q1, then advice is given for how to prevent this happening again in Q2.
However - to go back to our early sports analogy - this is like telling a football team that is down 3-0 at halftime to hire new coaches and overhaul their training programme. That might help the team in question to win future matches, but won’t do anything at all to pull off a second half comeback in this particular match!
What that team needs is a strategy and system of action it can follow - responsive to how the opposition are playing - that can help them turn it around and win the match they are currently playing.
Once again, sales is no different. It’s good to look at implementing strategies that are going to help you win in future sales periods (this is actually an important thing to do, in order to ensure smoother sailing down the track). But what you really need right now is a game-plan to win this particular “match”.
So, without any further ado, let’s dive into the following five strategies that you can put in place now in order to get back on track to hit your targets in the current sales period (and lay the framework for future success at the same time!)
Here's What You Need To Do:
1. Be direct in your communication with prospects/customers. It’s common knowledge that the fastest way between two points is in a straight line. When you’re down on sales and time, it’s important to be as direct as possible in your communication with prospects. Although it's always tempting to "beat around the bush" and avoid those potentially awkward conversations where you ask outright to get a deal across the line (probably hoping that the customer will suggest closing from their end) now is the time to be direct in your communications. There is no harm in asking for the sale, provided you don’t come across as rude or overbearing and nix the chance of closing more deals with this customer or prospect in the future.
2. Time is of the essence - use it wisely! When you are under pressure to close enough sales in a short period of time, then it is crucial to ensure you are using your time wisely. Look at the available days left in your sales period and make sure that you are focusing your time on the customers and deals that are most likely to close (we will talk about this more in point three). Furthermore, ensure that you are not wasting time on unnecessary tasks or activities that aren't likely to result in additional sales being signed off. Now is not the time to go about re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic!
3. Rank your pipeline and follow up accordingly. Following up from the point above, it is important to remember that not all leads and prospects are created equal. The truth is that some of the prospects currently sitting in your pipeline are more likely to close successfully, whereas others could be potential wastes of time. Focus on closing what is realistically within reach; these are the deals that are going to help you get back towards making your target in the short term. It is all about focusing on the accounts and prospects that are likely to provide the best return for your efforts - and within the time frame in which you need them to “perform”. Follow up and try to close as much as possible with the accounts that will provide the best results for your time and energy.
4. Look for your “ace in the hole” and play it if appropriate and likely to be successful. Normally you don’t want to put all your cards on the table at once. But if you’re at risk of missing quota, then you’ve got a good reason to pull out all of the stops to try and get deals closed. Think about opportunities to bring in other resources that might help you close a deal. For example, would a well-timed phone call from an executive in your firm to an executive from your prospect’s firm potentially help close a deal? What about the provision of specialist technical/product experts within your company who can help demonstrate the value of what you are trying to sell? Think about what aces might be sitting in your pocket, and then play them if the situation calls for it.
5. Take massive action and get stuck in. Perhaps the most important piece of advice we can offer is to take action to reverse your current situation and hit those targets. The worst thing you can do when faced with the potential of missing quota is to sit there stunned like a deer in the headlights, unsure of what steps to take next … this won’t help you at all!
The truth is that you do not need a perfect plan. A perfect plan for turning around your lack of sales and hitting quota doesn’t exist. Trying to come up with one will likely just result in you spinning your wheels and falling further behind. Instead, keep in mind the wise words of George S. Patton - “a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Come up with a quick plan of attack (taking into account the tactics listed above) and then get to work.
In conjunction with this campaign of vigorous action taking, it is important to align your sales activities in view of hitting your number. Prioritize actions that are going to tie directly back to achieving the target(s) you need to attain.
Don’t Neglect The Top Of The Pipeline
One extra thing to bear in mind is that you shouldn’t neglect growing the top of your pipeline, even while you are grinding away at the pointy end trying to get deals closed for this sales period.
The reason for this is very simple: If you fail to grow your pipeline with sufficient prospects, then you increase your chance of falling behind on target on future sales periods.
Therefore, it’s really important that you keep up with your lead generation and prospecting work; you’ll need to go “over and above” in terms of dedication and effort to not only close more deals now, but ensure you have the chance of closing sufficient numbers in future sales periods as well.
Remember that your ultimate goal should always be to fill your pipeline with sufficient prospects AND have the right activities in place to convert and close them, so that you reduce as much as possible the risk of missing your targets.
To cut a long story short, make sure that your pursuit of your current target does not put you in jeopardy of missing future ones!
In this blog post we’ve covered a number of time-tested, effective, and proven strategies for “turning it around” when you’re at risk of missing your sales target or quota.
1. Be direct in your communications with key accounts and prospects, in order to progress more quickly towards closing deals.
2. Use your time wisely by focusing on the right actions and accounts.
3. Grade your pipeline and chase up the accounts and leads that are most likely to translate into sales.
4. Look to deploy any extra resources you can muster, e.g. executives who can go higher up the chain and assist in getting deals across the line.
5. Get out there, take action, and sell as hard as you can so you can close more deals and win the one score that truly matters!
Remember that your sales target/quota is the metric that really matters. Even if you’ve done everything else right (and all the other metrics support such a claim) you’re still likely to be judged on whether you missed or hit your target. That means you need to get stuck in now and try and
How Numerik Can Help You Turn It Around & Hit Your Targets
Here are Numerik, we are focused one important task - helping sales reps, managers, and execs hit the one target that counts more than all others; the sales target.
We are currently developing a powerful application that helps sales professionals to gain greater insights and accountability into their performance, with outcome being a system of action that will help you hit and exceed your quotas and targets.
If you want to start getting real and hitting your targets better than ever before, then talk to us today about how Numerik can help get you back on track with your sales efforts. We are actively seeking early adopters for our product, so reach out to see if Numerik could be the missing piece of your sales puzzle!
TL:DR? Here’s What You Need To Know
Too busy to read it all? Here are the key points:
- There are many metrics available for us in the sales industry, but the only one that really matters is whether or not you are hitting your target/quota.
- If you are not hitting your quota/not on track to do so, any other metrics that are looking positive are likely to be overlooked by your manager(s) and peer(s).
- You need to get back to basics and focus on the one score to “live and die by” - achieving your sales target/quota for whatever period you are in. Every activity you undertake needs to tie directly back to this.
- While retrospection is a good thing in moderation, what really counts is looking forward towards the end of the period and undertaking actions that are going to result in more closed deals and sales
- Be direct and clear in communications with your customers to move deals from "open" to "closed"
- Offer incentives to close deals where appropriate, but only if the customer agrees to sign and complete within the period you are currently in (otherwise you are just discounting against next quarter's target!)
- Rank your pipeline and follow up with the leads and customers most likely to convert - focus intensely on them
- Look for opportunities to call on other resources to help close deals - use your "ace in the hole" wisely
- Take action and get back to the basics of selling. Always focus on activities that will directly contribute to sales outcomes.
- Take action in a big way - an imperfect plan executed with gusto and dedication could be just the ticket!
- Sometimes you won’t be able to turn it around and win, especially if there is not much time left in the period (whether that is a month, quarter, or year). In this case, what matters is being accountable for the shortfall, and identifying a system of action you can use ensure better results next time.
- If you’ve got sales targets you need to hit, then talk to us today about Numerik and how it could be a great fit for you. Sign up to our free newsletter to keep up to date with product developments and industry news. We want to help you starting working Numerikly!