The Problem with Managing Only Activity

If you measure your results by activity alone, these salespeople are doing well—especially compared to their peers who are doing far less in a day.

Sales managers in the past measured activity as if it were the only variable, mostly because it was the only thing they had direct control over. They could literally insist that their salespeople do more work. In many cases, this resulted in greater sales, because increased activity is always the right answer when too little activity is being taken.

The problem with managing only activity is that it absolves you, the manager, of your responsibility for improving the salesperson’s performance.

Outcomes > Activity

All the activity a salesperson takes needs to generate outcomes. The outcomes are what matter, and focusing on activity alone doesn’t speak to the salesperson’s effectiveness, nor does it speak to your effectiveness as their leader, manager, coach, and trainer. If activity alone was enough to produce better sales results, then your role would be easy. The truth is, selling is more difficult now, and producing greater results requires more effort on your part.

There is a certain segment of every population of worker that isn’t working hard enough to produce the results they need. There is an equally large population—maybe larger than those who lack hustle—that is taking the right amount of activity and not producing the outcomes because they need to improve their approach. More activity may produce a modest improvement in their results, but it won’t come close to the improvement possible by increasing their effectiveness.

Outcomes are greater than activity. The more effective your individual salespeople are, the more outcomes they can generate with very same activity.

Your Activity and Your Effectiveness

If you are going to look at a salesperson’s activity and their effectiveness in obtaining the outcomes they need, you also need to be honest enough to look at your own activity and your own effectiveness. You need to determine whether you are spending the time coaching and developing them to better generate the outcomes they need, and you need to measure yourself on the outcome of creating the salespeople your clients need from you and from your company.

If you believe that your challenge in producing results is your salespeople, you are always going to have trouble producing the results you need. When you believe that other people are your problem, that belief is the root of your problems. Only your beliefs—and your activity—can change this.

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