Sales manager reports serve two main purposes.
- Provide Information regarding sales objectives and business results.
- Guide the professional development of sales representatives.
Field sales managers tend to be more accomplished at applying themselves to the first as they seek information about what’s happening on the road, whether it’s the progress of a particular account, sales deal, portfolio coverage, time spent driving between sales calls etc.
This information is important as it helps determine if the team is on target to hit their goals
It also uncovers weaknesses or areas for potential improvement. For example, if there are problems with “X” sales process then we need to look at “Y” solution as an alternative, if the northern territories are struggling with revenue output then perhaps we need to look to the south for answers.
We also have to keep in mind the needs of our own management team, those that regional sales managers report to. They also want to know what’s going on, whether we are on target to hit our goals or not. They have their own jobs to do and the information gathered from sales manager reports helps them guide their own business decisions.
The second (and I’m going to suggest often neglected) purpose of an area sales manager report is coaching.
That’s coaching, not “telling”.
Noticing that a field sales representative is short of their monthly forecast and telling them to go and “do this” and report back to you or “hey, your sales pipeline is looking a little skinny, go and do some more prospecting and we’ll catch up in a couple weeks,” does not constitute coaching.
Coaching is taking a careful look at the data provided in sales manager reports and taking this opportunity to sit down with sales reps, review some key accounts, brainstorm strategies and tackle some of the problems head-on, together.
Get this second part right, and you’ll have nailed sales reporting.
Sales manager reports and Accurate Data
Before any coaching can take place we need to determine exactly what we want to include in our sales report.
This is so, so important that I really can’t stress this enough.
Too often field sales managers suffer from information overload. With the capabilities of CRM and sales technology as advanced as they are we can now cut, divide and analyze data for just about anything we please. We have access to:
- Data on sales calls
- Data on customer retention benefits
- Data on customer visits
- Data on sales cycles length
- Data on call duration
- Data on revenue figures
- Data on sales pipeline management
But why add customer retention data or call duration figures to your weekly sales reports if your team focuses on high-touch sales visits?
Much better would be to include metrics related to time spent with customers or maybe number of customers visited – metrics that are directly associated with the performance and specific sales process of that particular sales rep.
From my experience, good sales managers are those that understand that different sales roles require specific processes and metrics.
The desire to manage everyone in the same manner is appealing as it’s on our nature to search out simplicity where we can. However, effective sales management is anything but simple. We need to take a horses for courses approach when it comes to managing and coaching different sales processes.
Sales Manager Reports and Coaching through Processes
Remember, the second and most important function of sales manager reports is that they allow us to provide constructive feedback and help improve our salespeople’s execution when out in the field. But as we just ascertained, the metrics in that report have to represent a specific step in our sales representative’s sales process.
If the numbers indicate there is something amiss with “stage 2” of the process, then as a manager we can quickly focus our time, effort and 1-to-1 training session to improve that particular area.
How to use Sales Manager Reports to Coach Territory Management
Let’s take a territory management sales process for example:
In field sales this is going to be one of the most common sales processes you have in place. Your team probably has a database of hundreds of sales prospects segmented by area (geography) size, vertical, language etc.
This defined segment is typically referred to as a “territory”.
Now the biggest challenges facing field sales reps following a territory management process is portfolio coverage – the effective allocation of time and resources across all potential prospects and clients. It’s unrealistic of you to expect your team to spend an equal amount of time with each and every prospect (there are, after all, only so many given hours in a day) so the identification and prioritization of key accounts is crucial.
If you’re unsure of how to identify solid prospects, work with your marketing team to create a buyer persona. This activity essentially breaks down all the key characteristics of your ideal customer, helping both marketing and sales focus only on candidates with a genuine need (or potential need) for your product or service. Some of the focus characteristics typically include:
Once your ideal customer has been identified, it’s time to decide which prospects in the sales funnel your sales reps should prioritize their time with. This should be done by aligning your sales objectives with your sales activities for that month or quarter.
For example, if you set your sales team an objective to onboard 10 new clients in “X” industry then all prospects associated with that vertical should be prioritized over prospects from other industries.
Call Frequency and Execution Plan
Once that has been decided you can then work out a call frequency and execution strategy based upon the same given sales objectives.
So sticking with the same example as before, if we wanted to increase the number of clients from “X” industry we would need to make a higher frequency of sales calls (or face-to-face visits) with them. So if they were expected to make 20 visits a week, you might allocated 50% of those to prospects from “X” industry meaning their call frequency plan would be 10.
It’s now over to your team to execute the plan.
How do you monitor execution? Through the analysis of a sales manager monthly report.
Analyzing Sales Manager Reports for Better Territory Management
With your territory management process now mapped out, it’s time to set your mobile CRM tool to produce weekly sales reports analyzing each step of the sales process (if you don’t yet have a mobile sales system don’t worry, we put together a quick guide on how to make a sales report using excel).
In the case of territory management, some of the metrics you might want to look at are as follows:
- Identification – Time spent working with marketing team on buyer persona
- Prioritization – Number of customers/prospects assigned per industry, ratio of prospects via industry
- Call Frequency – Number of calls made, number of face-to-face visits made, number of follow-up meetings booked.
- Execution – Percentage of visits made with prospects from industry “X”, average time spent with customers from industry “X”.
As you can see, each stage in the sales process is aligned with specific, quantitative metrics retrievable from your CRM. If some of the numbers are short of what was predicted during the sales forecasting process, you are able to determine where and at which stage.
For example, imagine you’ve just received your monthly sales manager report.
After a quick skim through you notice that this particular sales representative only completed 4 of the 10 face-to-face sales visits they were set. So you give him a call to determine why this is the case.
YOU: “Hey Alan, it’s Paula here, how’s everything going?”
ALAN: “Hey Paula, good thanks yourself?”
YOU: “Good thanks, I’m just skimming through the regional sales manager reports right now and I noticed that this month your a little short on your call frequency plan of 10 face-to-face visits with customers from “X” industry. However, your number of allocated prospects assigned for this priority industry is fairly high. Could you walk me through it?”
ALAN: “Hmmm, well this month I’ve been really tied up visiting a few prospects from industry “Y”. Seeing as they are all located fairly close to each other I thought it made sense to drop in and see them on the way back home.”
YOU: “I appreciate that, and in normal circumstances I would completely agree with this approach. However, this quarter our target is to increase revenue by targeting prospects from industry “X” as in the past this has proven to be an extremely profitable vertical for us.”
ALAN “OK, I guess you’re right. Well I could try and complete my quota of visits for “industry “X” at the start of the month and if I have some time free up later on, perhaps drop by and visit some of my other prospects.”
YOU “I think that sounds like he best approach, we’ll discuss it further when you come by the office next week, thanks Alan.”
Thanks to one of your sales manager reports that Alan was having trouble with stage 2 of the sales process. He was spending too much time with leads from industry “Y” causing him to fall short of his target from industry “X”.
In this case a quick phone call was all that was needed to correct the ship. However, if the problem persists then maybe you’d need to consider going through some possible sales training topics and approach the issue from a different angle. Each case will have to be dealt with on an individual basis.
Remember, good territory management is all about efficiency, not just in ensuring your field sales reps spend as much face-to-face time with as many of the right customers as possible, but with your time too.
How to use Sales Manager Reports to Coach Opportunity Management
For our second example let’s take a look at opportunity management, a process championed by Jason Jordan in his best-selling sales management code book.
This sales process is extremely common in field sales teams closing deals with long, complex sales cycles. It provides them with a structure to understand the competitive landscape upon which they compete, qualify prospects using a data-driven strategy and effectively, win more deals.
Unlike the territory management process opportunity management is cyclical and constantly evolving. Once your sales team begin to gather more information and become more attuned to the whole sales process, the more feedback entered into the CRM and the better/more detailed the process becomes.
First the field rep must gather information to assess the opportunity. This means analyzing the client in the context of the:
- The seller’s organization
- Who is involved in the buyer’s cycle?
- What’s important to them?
- What is their budget?
You can gather this information from your primary screening call, industry reports, your CRM, analysis of previous customer buyer cycles etc. Until this process is complete, and enough information has been gathered on a potential customer a solid plan cannot be put into place.
The next step in the process is to qualify the opportunity to ensure that they are worth allocating time and resources.
This is step is extremely important. Chasing the wrong sales deals consumes an enormous amount of time and energy with little to no return. Reps must be able to identify what constitutes a good opportunity and be ready to disqualify all of those that don’t.
One popular sales training idea is to complete a BANT analysis with your sales team. This qualification technique helps reps determine whether the lead is worth pursuing or not by looking at:
Budget: Can they afford your product or service?
Authority: Does this person/focus group have the authority to make the final decision
Need: Does your product/service solve a need they have?
Time: What is the time frame for this deal?
Developing a Strategy
Now your leads have been qualified it’s time to get into the meat and potatoes of the process – forming and developing a strategy.
The key objective here is to align sales activities with the prospect’s (or focus group, as you will often find with bigger sales deals) position in the buyer’s cycle.
For example, your strategy of dealing directly with a product user, the one that uses your system on a daily basis is going to differ from how you deal with the “ruler” – the person responsible for making the purchase decision.
To help you in this stage it’s worth asking yourself questions such as:
- What are the steps in the sales cycle?
- Of those involved, what are their roles and how do we best deal with them?
- Of this group, who is key decision maker?
- In what context do our competitors play a role, if at all, in this deal?
- How can we position our product/service against theirs?
Again, as it was with the territory management process, once a strategy has been clearly defined and your salespeople are aware of which actions need to be taken, to whom and at what stage of the sales cycle, it’s up to them to go ahead and execute on that plan.
Analyzing Sales Manager Reports for Better Opportunity Management
Now that the process has been established, let’s take a look at some of the metrics we are going to want to monitor in our sales manager monthly report:
- Gathering information – This is not something you necessarily need to include in the report, as other data from further down the process will highlight weaknesses here.
- Qualification – Percentage of leads qualified, percentage of lead drop-off.
- Strategy and Execution – Number of people contacted in buyer’s process, frequency of contact, adherence to strategy (how many prospects were contacted at which stage of the sales cycle).
So let’s take a look at a specific example of how you would use a sales manager report to improve the performance of a salesperson using the opportunity management process.
Again, you’ve given your area sales manager report a quick breeze through and you notice that Alan has a significant drop-off rate from the leads he’s qualifying from – 26% higher than the rest of the team, so you get him back on the phone.
YOU: “Hey Alan it’s Paula, how’s your day been?”
ALAN: “Hey Paula, great thanks, I’ve just got out of a meeting, yourself?”
YOU: “Great thanks, I’m just going through the sales manager reports now and I noticed over the last month your conversion ratios from qualified to closed has dropped off significantly. Let’s take a look at opportunity “X” that you recently discarded – can you walk me through the whole deal process and explain what happened?”
ALAN: “Sure, I’d be happy to. Following the process, I gathered some information on the client relating to their size, industry and competitors. After an initial call it turns out they had a need for our product so I immediately qualified them and added them to the pipeline.”
YOU: “OK, that sounds good, so what happened?”
ALAN: “Well, after establishing contact with decision maker within their buyer’s network, it turned out that they were didn’t have the allocated budget and were considering other providers more in their price range. It’s tough as I had spent a lot of hours working hard on this opportunity.
YOU: Ah, well I think we’ve identified the problem. When doing your BANT qualification you should of perhaps considered whether they had the budget and time frame before entering them into the sales pipeline. That way you wouldn’t have had to dedicate so much time to an opportunity that had little chance of closing. How about we review some of the other opportunities in your funnel and see whether we uncover a similar problem.”
ALAN: “Yes I think that would have been better, thanks Paula, let’s try and schedule some to go over some similar opportunities in my pipeline.”
As we can see here here Alan’s conversion rate was considerably lower than the rest of the team because he qualified leads without doing a thorough BANT analysis. As a result, he not only burned time on prospects that had little chance of converting but also less time available to spend with those that did.
By sitting down with Alan and going through his pipeline with a fine-toothed comb you should be able to coach him on how to better filter out prospects and consequently, increase his sales performance.
Another common pitfall that can be picked up through the careful analysis of sales manager reports is firefighting.
Common throughout almost all companies – even large organizations with fully dedicated customer support teams – sales reps are often used as the first point of contact when a customer has a complaint because in their eyes, they are the “go-to guy”.
Obviously there has to be some wriggle room here. If it’s a key account then it makes sense to appease them by any means possible, especially if they’re disgruntled for something the company is responsible for.
However, in the long run you’re going to want to educate clients during the handover process – between sales and customer success – who they need to contact in case of an emergency.
Sales reps’ primary function is the acquisition or procurement of business through clients. Any tasks given to them that aren’t related to increasing business revenue should be allocated elsewhere.
In conclusion, it’s clear that sales manager reports should only contain information directly associated with the specific sales process of this particular sales representative. This way managers and their sales team’s do not waste time pouring over metrics that have no direct impact on sales performance. Secondly, it allows managers to dedicate this extra time towards coaching; a commonly neglected sales activity that actively drives performance and helps sales teams achieve their goals.