Is it fair to tell an athlete to train 6 hours a day; 2 in the gym, 2 on the track and 2 with weights and then give them a performance target in a race? Well, yes it is –  if the coach has a track record of success and can demonstrate their training program works.

So, is it fair to give a salesperson performance targets and also activity targets? If you do, it must be clearly demonstratable that those specifc activities will lead to the targeted performance. Frequently sales managers can’t do this and feel they have to manage the numbers in order to manage their staff.

If the activity targets are, say, 20 phone calls, 2 meetings and 5 quotes and 1 presentation a day is it fair then to give a sales target of, say, £30,000 / quarter and complain when they meet their activity target but not the sales target?

I believe, if you have the right staff and sales process you really don’t need to have targets for activities AND targets for the outcome. You should really only measure one and target the other. Otherwise there will be little ownership and empowerment within the sales team. It’s much better to focus the sales team on what you need them to achieve (sales target) and have an environment where each salesperson can reach this target making the best use of their individual skills.

If we focus too much on the numbers (quantitative drivers) then there is often a lack of focus on the client relationship and individual sales style (qualitative drivers) during the sales process. I’d much rather have a sales team focusing on their sales target as opposed to their activity target!

You may be counting all those calls – but isn’t it preferable to make sure that all those calls count?

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