The good news/bad news, is that we have so many selling and marketing tools providing us endless amounts of data–particularly around activity. We can count the number of emails, opens, click throughs. We count the number of dials, voicemails, conversations. As our work, increasingly, is done through our devices, we can measure how much time our people are spending on virtually every aspect of their job. How much and what research they are doing. How active they are through the day. We measure everything about every deal in their pipelines. We count the number of meetings, calls, demos, proposals made.
Despite our ability to measure activity, YoY results from sellers is declining. The percent of sellers achieving their goals continues to decline. Organizationally, we solve for that by hiring more people. More people drive more activity. Yet, with the recession, we are finding this an unsustainable model.
Activity, the right activities, are critical to producing results. But activity, by itself, doesn’t mean we are being productive. It doesn’t mean we are being effective.
First, measuring every activity diverts attention from why we are doing the activity to the activity itself. We make dials to create conversations. We send emails to drive responses. If we are failing to produce the results we need, we need to understand this–not arbitrarily do more. Why aren’t our calls producing the conversations we expect, why aren’t our emails creating the responses we want? What do we have to change to produce the results expected? What do we have to change to improve on the results expected?
Activity is, or should be, done to produce a result or outcome. Measuring the activity helps us predict the results. But rather than understand these cause-effect relationships, we focus on the activity only, thinking more activity will produce more results, even when we see our models are broken.
Do we really need to be so obsessed with activity? After all, if we are getting the outcomes we expect from the activities, then why do we care about the activities? If we care about conversations, perhaps tracking conversations is the right metric. Why track dials, voicemails, and so forth. All we care about is conversations, regardless the number of dials required. If we start missing our conversation goals, then we can start assessing the activities. Are we doing enough? Are they producing the result we need? Do we need to change what we are doing, do we need to do more?
We should also look to improvement. Can we accomplish more with the same number of calls? Can we accomplish more by doing more calls?
Yet we seem to miss this. We focus on activity for activity sake.
How many activities do we need to track? To do this, we need to understand the critical activities required to produce the end results. How many deals do we need to win to produce the orders/revenues we need to achieve? How many deals do we need to compete in to have a sufficient number of wins? How many deals do we need to qualify to produce that volume of deals? How many conversations with how many customers do we have to have, to find and qualify those deals? And so forth.
It’s not a whole lot of activities.
Then, as we look at productivity and improvement, we start analyzing those numbers seeing how we tilt the numbers in our favor. If we can increase our win rate, it means we have to have fewer qualified deals, which means we don’t have to have as many conversations to find those deals. Likewise, if we increase our average deal value, the same things impact our qualified pipeline and prospecting conversations.
Or, if we can conduct that volume of activities effectively, while improving our win rates, deal values, and so forth, we have the opportunity to grow at a much faster rate, driving higher levels of revenue and performance.
The focus on activity for activity sake diverts us from this thinking, diverts us from figuring out how we might achieve more and grow. Instead, we seem to be chasing activity for activity sake, while seeing results at all levels decline.
Activity is important to productivity. But without understanding how activity positively or negatively impacts productivity and results, we are just blindly busy.