From Activity to Impact: Managing the Controllables for Long-Term B2B Sales Results
What is under my control?
As a B2B sales professional, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the vast array of factors that can impact our success. From shifting market trends to unpredictable competition moves, there are countless variables that are outside of our control. We can’t take responsibility for most of the things that are happening on the market. It’s just not possible. But there is one thing that we can control, and that’s how we respond to the situations we find ourself in.
One of the keys to success is learning to focus our attention on the things that are under our control. In context of B2B sales, this means identifying the areas of sales process where we have the power to make meaningful changes, and directing our efforts towards improving those areas. For example:
- We are not able to control the broader economic landscape… but we can take steps to optimize our sales pipeline and improve our conversion rates.
- We are not be able to dictate the decisions of our customers… but we can invest in building strong relationships and delivering exceptional service.
By focusing on the things that are within our control, we can build a sense of agency and ownership over our sales process. This can help us stay motivated and engaged, even in the face of setbacks or challenges. Here are some examples of what is and what is not under our control in the context of B2B sales:
What is under our control:
- Our sales process and pipeline
- The quality of our products or services
- Our pricing and negotiation strategies
- The level of customer service we provide
- Our communication and relationship-building with clients
- Our marketing and branding efforts
What is not under our control:
- The overall state of the economy
- Market fluctuations and trends
- The decisions and behavior of our competitors
- The preferences and buying habits of our customers
- External factors like natural disasters, political events, or regulatory changes
- The timing and outcomes of major business deals or partnerships
Cracking The Sales Management Code
It’s important to note that while some factors may be outside of our direct control, we can still take steps to mitigate their impact or respond in a proactive and strategic way. The key is to identify the areas where we have the most influence and focus our efforts on optimizing those areas to drive success in B2B sales.
These ideas are alignment with the principles outlined in “Cracking The Sales Management Code” by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana.
In their book, Jordan and Vazzana argue that sales success hinges on a clear understanding of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive business outcomes, and a data-driven approach to sales management that focuses on optimizing those KPIs.
To do this effectively, it’s important to identify the factors that are under our control and can be measured and managed through KPIs, such as our sales process, pipeline, and customer engagement. By establishing clear metrics around these areas, we can identify areas of improvement and track our progress over time.
Jason and Michelle distinguish between three key components of sales management: Sales Results, Sales Objectives, and Sales Activities. Understanding the difference between these three concepts is crucial for effective sales management and optimization of key performance indicators (KPIs).
Sales Results refer to the ultimate outcomes that we want to achieve in our sales efforts. These outcomes are typically measured in terms of revenue, profit, market share, or other similar metrics. Although Sales Results are the ultimate indicators of success in B2B sales, they can’t be directly managed as they are not directly under our control. Here are a few examples:
- Achieving $300,000 in revenue for the quarter
- Winning 3 new long-term client contracts within the year
- Increasing the company’s consulting fees by 10%
- Expanding into a new geographic market and generating $100,000 in revenue
- Achieving a 95% client satisfaction rate for the year
Sales Objectives are the intermediate goals that we set for ourselves in order to achieve the Sales Results we desire. These objectives are specific, measurable, and achievable targets that align with our overall sales strategy. Sales Objectives can be influenced by managing Sales Activities. Examples of Sales Objectives might include:
- Increasing the number of qualified leads generated by 15% per month
- Shortening the sales cycle time by 20%
- Increasing the win rate on proposals by 5%
- Expanding service offerings to existing clients to increase average deal size by 15%
- Increasing referrals by 10% over the course of the year
Sales Activities are the specific actions and behaviors that salespeople engage in on a day-to-day basis in order to achieve the Sales Objectives that lead to Sales Results. Sales Activities can be proactively managed, for example:
- Building a strong online presence through activities on Linked In
- Hosting webinars and thought leadership content to drive brand awareness and attract new leads
- Conducting personalized needs assessments for each prospective client
- Offering free consultations or initial consultations to prospective clients to demonstrate expertise and build trust
- Providing detailed proposals and tailored solutions to meet each client’s unique needs
- Investing in relationship-building activities, such as follow-up calls and in-person meetings with clients
By focusing on Sales Activities that are aligned with our Sales Objectives, we can optimize our sales process and drive the results that we desire.
While presented analysis makes sense, the implementation may seem daunting. To help out the readers, Jason and Michelle shared a simple 6-step process to crack the sales management code.
- Define the business results.
- Identify the sales objectives.
- Select processes that can directly influence your objectives.
- Choose activities within the processes to manage a day-to-day basis.
- Quantify the target for all chosen results, objectives, and activities.