About sales activities to hit the targets

May 13, 2014 by Juha Merinen

Most (if not all) of us within sales have experienced the typical month end situation where there were not simply enough days left to hit the targets. The only way to achieve the sales quota was to expect a miracle to happen or trying to prolong the on-going month “with a little help of sales oriented and creative month end closing ideas”.

During those times we all should have realized the root causes for this issue much earlier and worked our way out to avoid landing into this typical performance trap. The right questions to be asked would have been what kind of sales activities should have been considered to reach the set sales targets. To be more specific, questions like what works, what does not work and what is the needed amount of sales activities in the first place to hit the targets.

Why do we lose deals and what can we do about it?

According to data from the 2010 Sales Performance Optimization study (Report by CSO Insights) majority stated
that the key reasons why they lost deals were due to “competitor´s price and terms, competitors existing relationship with the customers and competitors brand equality / reputation”. If this is the truth (and according to this study it is), what could we have done about it (and much earlier). Even though there are no clear rules or guidelines to this
ever lasting dilemma the study brings out anyway some reasonable considerations like “learn to communicate your advantages, figure out price expectations early on, work on your marketing message, choose the right target market”
and last but absolutely not least; “track and manage your processes” namely aligned sales and customer processes.
It is of utmost importance that one aligns key sales activities (e.g. sales cycle) to market segment´s buying behavior in timely manner.

What are the sales activities and what to track?

Hitting the targets cannot be based on hope, but focusing on what you are actually going to do. It is quite easy to support the common understanding that sales activities could be divided into following 3 simplified categories

Pre-Sales Activities

  • Planning: Prospect/Customer identification, product/research/customer analysis review, competitor/industry research, creating a call/visit strategy, evaluation of company´s products and services relative to the competition.
  • Preparing: Creation of meeting presentation material, proposal/pricing creation, contract generation, determining use of marketing material, identifying customer objections and planning to address those in the presentation or meeting and defining the quantifiable return what Sales Force expects to see after the meeting.

Sales Activities

  • Sales Activities are the execution of all planning and preparing. These activities may include the sales call or meeting, negotiation or follow-up, closing the deal, relationship building and networking.

Post Sales Activities

Product/service implementation, customer service and support, gathering customer feedback, continued customer relationship building, future sales forecasting and evaluation of the sales calls/visits. I hope it goes without saying that none of these are not what sales force wants to do.


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