This cartoon made its rounds on the Internet recently.

I posted it to social media and received the most feedback I have gotten on a post. The feedback was all being supportive of the context of this cartoon.

Many organizations are spending far too much time on administrative and documentation for their sales teams.

When I ask sales people how much time in a week they are spending on administrative work – the majority will tell me that it is between 25% and 40%.

So the real issue here is: How best do you hold your sales team accountable.

We have so much technology and “information” now that it is hard to determine what is needed and what is “real” information.

Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) are used by organizations big and small – with the thought that the system will solve all my sales problems.

In fact what the CRM system does is just make things even more complex and less accurate.

The sales team needs to know what is important to management.  And management needs to keep what they need simple, consistent and show that they are reading and using the information that is input.

Once sales reps know that the information they are capturing and providing is being read and used by leadership and they understand the importance; then they will, for the most part provide that information.

However, if leadership is not using the information and demanding and policing the input – then sales reps will pay lip service and the information will never be accurate and there will be an ongoing discussion that is represented by the cartoon above!

My experience is that you need to capture 3-5 pieces of sales information about each deal that you are working on.

These pieces of information; once tracked and managed on a consistent basis will tell you a story about your success, or lack there of.

When managed and analyzed you will know what you need to do to close a deal.

Things like:

  • Stage in your sales cycle
  • Value or Margin of deal
  • % to close
  • Product or Service
  • Contacts and Decision Maker
  • Competition
  • Does the client have approved budget for the deal

Knowing what it takes to manage your sales cycle and then to close the business makes accountability a much easier task.

If you don’t know what you need and are not managing this information, then everyone is pointing fingers and no one is held accountable.

You now become a dysfunctional team and leadership now begins to micromanage their reps and every deal.

Keep your reporting simple.

Make expense reports easy and straightforward to complete.

If you are a larger organization have someone in operations manage and police the information you need, and keep the reporting up to date and current in the information presented.

Once information is outdated and not accurate; no one will pay attention or believe the information being presented.

Now that you have a reporting system that is in place use that information to celebrate successes, to identify challenges and make adjustments and to make sure that all the time sales reps use to report on their activities is rewarded by a leader who pays attention and acknowledges the information and applies it to the sales efforts to help create team success.