Sales Traction - The Key to Measuring the #1 Sales Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 16, 2011 @ 06:11 AM

One of the KPI's I introduced in my Moneyball article two months ago was Traction, the ratio of suspects that become prospects.  Using the Baseline Selling process, that is also the ratio of opportunities that move from 1st base to 2nd base.  Translating that one more time, it is the number of 1st meetings that move to "we have a real opportunity here".

Many companies track some or all of the following KPI's for their salespeople:

  • leads to appointments
  • leads to closed
  • opportunities to closed
  • proposals to closed
  • demos to closed
  • quotes to closed
Traction brings a sales opportunity to life in much the same way that 3D on a big screen brings a movie to life.  While the other KPI's above are helpful, they are much more like watching a movie in black & white on a 19" TV.  You watched the movie, but you weren't part of the movie.  
So what does traction consist of?
Aside from the obvious, how effective salespeople  are when attempting to move opportunities from "some interest" to "solid prospects", Traction tells us how consistently a salesperson accomplishes that.  And by measuring their consistency and effectiveness with that single ratio, we get much better insight as to how well our salespeople are applying and executing the #1 sales competency, their consultative selling skills.
Traction will also provide meaningful insight as to exactly where in the sales process the opportunities are getting hung up (closing is not the cause, it's the effect) and why.  In most scenarios, if your salespeople aren't consistently developing traction, it will be for one of the following reasons:
  • Relationships aren't strong enough
  • They jumped from 1st Base (start of 1st meeting) to 3rd Base (conducted a demo or presented)
  • They didn't uncover the compelling reasons to buy (see #1 sales competency)
  • They didn't distinguish or differentiate themselves because of one of the 3 reasons above
Track salespeople's traction daily.  If you conduct a daily huddle, add the number of 1st Base meetings that converted to 2nd base but make sure your salespeople completely understand the criteria for reaching 2nd Base or you'll have them believing they arrived at 2nd Base every time and that will defeat the purpose.  2nd Base Criteria:
  • They need what you sell
  • Compelling reasons to buy were identified
  • Compelling reasons to buy from you were identified
  • Strong Relationship was established
  • Differentiated your salesperson and company from the competition through effective questioning
  • Quantified the cost of the problem or opportunity
Try it today and tell me what happens!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Moneyball, listening skills, questioning skills, sales traction

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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