Activity does not precede sales!

For a long time sales managers have held a religious devotion to activity. They believe that activity precedes sales. They are always willing to cite the great wisdom that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and then point to the stopped clock who, despite missing his quota, is lucky enough to run into a deal.

But the truth that we should all hold dear is that Effective activity precedes sales. Activity by itself is no longer enough. The market is crowded, the competition is ferocious, and it's harder and harder to acquire a prospects attention.

Why is effective overlooked? Because effectiveness is hard. It is difficult to train your sales staff to be effective. It is difficult and expensive to work with individual sales people, helping them with their personal challenges. It is even more difficult to generate and execute the new ideas that are vital to separating you and your sales team from the pack. So effectiveness gets dropped for plain old activity, which can be required or demanded, regardless of the outcome on sales (or the salesperson).

Activity doesn't precede sales. Effective activity precedes sales. 



  • John Held

    Very interesting post. Once concern I have with technologies that simply speed up activity is they simply intensify the pain (think of making or receiving cold calls!)
    Our clients are implementing strategies to break away from the pack, for example by augmenting classroom training with just-in-time ‘bite-sized’ information that is easier to translate into a good conversation at the very point it is needed.
    Many sales executives we talk to believe that the more they “bottle” what the best sellers know and do, the more they will pull ahead of their competitors. So while providing product brochures, spec sheets and white papers is still important, a lot of initiatives our clients are launching include topical blogs–where sellers themselves share what is working in the field.
    The good news is we are seeing a trend that more and more sales leaders at the SVP level at global companies starting to take the approach you would advocate, and increasingly pushing strategic initiatives to enable their sellers to hold better conversations.
    John Held