Want to see results? Measure activity!
Not long ago I was coaching someone in a significant sales role within his company. He was new to the job and had been given sales targets that were quite ambitious. The normal questions arose – what should I be doing? How should I organize my time? Where should I focus?
Although there’s a lot we did together to address these questions, a key breakthrough came when we defined a simple set of activity-metrics to create a sales funnel. What does that mean? We started with the annual financial goal and broke it down into a weekly target. Then we went back to the top of the funnel and made “educated guesses” on conversion rates – i.e. conversion of sales meetings to written estimates, conversion of estimates to sales, and average value of each sale. This allowed us to set targets for the number of weekly sales meetings (activity!) needed to hit the weekly financial target (outcome!).
While it may seem very simple, it was immensely powerful. Why? Because it translated the “big yearly target” into “small weekly action” (i.e. meetings) that had to happen…this week, today. It gave him something to guide his daily activities and measure progress towards his objective.
What might that be for you? Number of pages written per week/day to finish writing your book? Number of stops made to deliver an overall amount of product? Number of clicks/views/likes needed on your website to achieve a certain level of sales? Number of speaking engagements per month to generate new contacts?
Here are some simple tips to point you in the right direction:
-Choose an activity to measure that is largely in your control and significantly drives the overall result/outcome. It might sound obvious, but it may take some reflection to choose the right one. (example – “weather” or “stock price” may be key & can be measured, but is clearly out of your immediate, short-term control).
-Don’t worry if it’s partial or not 100% accurate. In my story of the salesman, there are clearly many other factors influencing the financial target than only number of meetings. However, to start and to keep it simple it’s the #1 priority (since without sales calls there will be no sale) and it should automatically lead us to ask the right questions. For example, if the sales person is hitting the weekly meeting-target, but not hitting the financial target? Hmmm…good question!
-Where should you set the activity target?…after all you're aligning two different “currencies” (ex meetings to dollars, clicks to sales, pages to book). The answer is pretty straightforward – make an educated guess based on existing data…or just gut feel if that’s all you have (which was the case in my example). The key is to begin tracking & measuring as soon as possible. It’s the quickest way to validate your target and make it more accurate over time.
So what’s the right activity target that drives your overall goal? Make a list, pick one, measure yourself, and take action accordingly. It’s simple but immensely powerful!