Why do Sales Managers Fail? They Manage Results – Not Actions.

Sales is known for celebrating and driving results. But what about actions? Focusing on inputs is an important reality for prospecting managers but it’s often overlooked. Learn how focusing on inputs can level-up your prospecting plan.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Quota crushers! President’s club! Winner’s circle! 

Sales is known for celebrating – and rewarding – the right results (aka outcomes). After all, driving revenue is one of the most critical aspects to running a business. It’s not something that can get too much attention, right? 

The problem is that too often the output becomes an obsession, disregarding the required input. This might sound like a distinction without a difference, but it’s an important reality of managing teams. Nowhere is this truer than when managing prospecting teams. Unfortunately, few sales managers are equipped with the core tools to help drive their coveted output.

The solution? Prospecting plans.

How to Manage Actions

There are no silver bullets, but prospecting plans clarify how a team can drive their desired outcomes. There’s no gray area; prospecting plans direct reps to the exact actions necessary to meet their quotas. While this is not a new concept, an often missing element is knowing exactly what to monitor to know if you are “on track”. Prospecting plans level-up when they offer not only the desired output, but a specific roadmap outlining the activities and volume necessary from each contributing team member. This strategy helps to hold reps accountable, identify development opportunities, and systematically reach desired outcomes.

A prospecting plan may sound simple enough, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. Many teams fall short of their goals (and struggle to prove the value of their technology investments) because they don’t have a clear understanding of their inputs, they lack the ability to track these inputs day-over-day, and they stop short of holding their team clearly accountable for their promised inputs. While this may sound like management 101, implementing this practice is the difference between mediocre and great sales leaders.

Follow the guide below to understand how to do the hard work of building your plan and holding your team accountable to achieving your goals.

Building a Prospecting Plan

Take Stock of Your Resources  

The first step to creating a next-level prospecting plan is to understand what you have to work with. Start by answering these questions:

  • How many hours does each rep have available in a day for prospecting?
  • What activities are central to successful prospecting for my team (calls, emails, etc)?
  • How much time does it take to perform each of these core activities (calls, emails, etc)?
  • How many activities can consistently fit within the available time?
  • How many people are contributing to my output goal?

From here, document the workflow expectations for your team; what percentage of each day should each rep spend on the phone prospecting? How about following up on discovery calls? Use this breakdown to create the confines of your resources and to determine how much time is reasonable for different activities. This practice can also help you to identify how a rep’s time is currently spent and where you can optimize for efficiency.

Determine Your Baselines

Establishing a baseline helps you to set a standard, anticipate outcomes, and regulate processes. Some areas you might want to quantify include…

  • How many calls does it take to get a connection? 
  • How many emails does it take to book a sales meeting?
  • How many sales meetings become opportunities?
  • Etc.

The goal of establishing baselines is to be able to work backward from your desired outcomes to map a process-driven workflow for your team. While your initial baseline might be a stretch for some reps (i.e. some reps can make 100 cold calls in a day, whereas others land at 60), training will help to bridge the gap. This is an added benefit of an effective prospecting plan; you’ll quickly and easily be able to identify development opportunities for your team.

Review Your Outcomes

You’ve identified your resources, or how much energy you have available for different tasks. You’ve identified your baselines, or typical conversion rates and efficiency within those tasks. 

Now, take your resources and multiply them by your baseline conversion rates. This brings you to your projected output. Time / activity x conversion rate = output. If your current output is below your goals, you’ll know that you need to either increase efficiency (baselines) or increase your resources. 

This sounds simple, but again can be difficult to get tight on. Being able to capture data and proof of your inputs and conversion rates will help ensure you are planning in line with reality.

The closer you get your plan to reality the more trustworthy it becomes on getting you to your goals. From here you can now track your progress day over day to see what’s working, what’s lagging, and what your options are to improve your results. Every manager’s dream: clarity on how to help their team win more.

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About The Author

About Sapper Consulting

Sapper's sales prospecting team becomes a natural extension of your existing sales efforts, helping you find new leads that are a great fit for your business.

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