Are you trying to track the improvement of your sales team’s performance based on outcome measures/targets? You’re [mostly] wrong.

Right now I am trying to shift a bit of weight as I come out of lockdown. I know I am not alone in this. This morning it struck me how similar this is to sales performance improvement programmes. Specifically how my success against my goal is potentially so tied to this outcome measure.

So why is it that people who want to lose weight have tunnel vision on how many kilo’s or pounds they weigh? Stressing about a number that is out of my control doesn’t help, it’s a lagging measure.

Of course, my desired outcome in the coming weeks and months is to reduce my weight. I have lost 5kg already and have another five to go to hit my goal. I could weigh myself every day and then focus on this number. I can wonder why it is not improving but this doesn’t help me if I fail to change my habits.

I have taken a different route. I understand the things I can control in the process (and my outcome weight is not one of them) and I have chosen to focus on these things.

I trust in the science of it all. If I want to reduce my weight I need to burn more calories than I consume. Simple. So I increased activity levels to burn a higher number of calories every day. For me, that means cycling, tennis, walking and a kettlebell. I reduced the number of calories I consume every day and track this accurately. Measuring this helps me to make the right choices about the quality, quantity and frequency of what I eat and drink.

I use Tech to help. My Fitbit and Garmin devices measure my exercise activity so I am able to track how much of something I am doing each day. The app on my phone measures  my foods and use the information I get to make choices about what to eat, how much of it and whether I should make a better choice.

So wtf has this got to do with sales management you ask? A lot actually.

In sales, where the desired outcome is increased orders and/or revenue, some sales managers focus on “more revenue” way too much.  This focus on the outcome number does little to help actually shift it. It’s like staring at the scales every week or month. Good for measuring your goal and tracking progress toward it, but it cannot in itself be a leading indicator of success. You cannot and should not try to manage performance with it.

Some will then spend inordinate amounts of time micromanaging a forecasting spreadsheet. This is for many companies is based on a low-quality pipeline. Too much time is spent predicting their future weight based on what, instinct and best guesses. The better teams, of course, manage their pipeline with greater insight, structure, discipline and science – sadly they are in the minority in my experience.

Like in weight loss, you need to focus on the right activities to manage. Focus on improving the quality of action rather than a lagging indicator, revenue.

Each sales team is a little different but here are some ideas that might help you.

  • number of prospecting conversations that lead to a discovery call
  • number of discovery conversations that lead to proposals
  • number of proposals that lead to win/loss
  • the size of your QUALIFIED pipeline (not 3x unweighted pipeline nonsense)
  • the quality of your pipeline based on the risk of each deal (you can measure this)
  • the quality of your conversations (you can measure this)
  • the quality of preparation for key conversations (you can measure this)
  • frequency and quality of deal coaching sessions performed by managers (you can measure this)
  • frequency and quality of call/sales coaching (you can measure this)
  • the quality of key account engagement and improvement (you can measure this)
  • the quality of your salespeople and sales management 
  • and there’s more……


Ultimately you have to trust in your activities. If you do more of the right actions, this will leads to more outcomes So improve the quality of your activities, the ones that make a difference to your performance.

First, you might need to understand what these are for your team and then put in place a sales management process to focus on managing the right things. Of course, you will take time to reflect on the lagging measures, to see how last month or week went in comparison to expectations. Is your weight loss on track, or revenue going to forecast? But this is only one part of the jigsaw and in reality only a small part.

Using Tech can help too. It can provide you with consistency, a better user experience, guidance, insights, measures and risks. BUT > It is not the answer on its own so be cautious. Too many companies push their SaaS solutions as the silver bullet, but the tech alone is unlikely to address your issues without changing your sales and sales management habits.

I hope this has been helpful to help you make a change. Stop worrying about your weight and start rising in the activities that can help to make a difference.