What happens when your sales team takes its eye off the ball?
We all know that sales performance is driven by high levels of high quality selling activity. We also know that attaining and maintaining that level of activity takes attention and focus.
What happens when there is a momentous event that draws that attention away from selling? Like a hotly contested presidential election?
Turns out that that answer can be something like a 20% temporary reduction in sales productivity.
Conveniently in this modern selling world, we now have the data to answer that question. And we just happen to have had a contested presidential election as a test.
While doing some research with some sales organizations (both have large rep bases, north of 50 sellers each), I was looking at sales productivity, specifically with respect to customer-facing email activity.
In one of the orgs, I noticed that there appeared to have been a big drop in email activity the day after the election. But to make sure, I wanted to compare it against previous Wednesdays.
Sure enough, the organization had encountered a 20% drop in customer-facing email activity for that day. This is a chart of the average number of customer-facing emails sent, per rep, per day, in this sales organization. You can see a substantial dip on the Wednesday following the election.
A dip from 28 customer-facing emails per day to 25 may not seem like a ton, but when you multiply that across 100 reps, you’re talking 300 unique accounts that didn’t get interacted with that day.
The above sales organization is a high velocity SaaS sales organization, so it was surprising to me that this would be the case. So I wanted to test it against another large sales org with a similarly statistically significant number of sellers.
I happen to be doing some consulting with another large sales organization with an outside, slower selling motion. So across the board their selling behavior is lower tempo and volume than an inside mid-market motion. What did I find there?
Same thing. A ~20% reduction is customer-facing email activity. In this case, this sales organization typically sees 10 customer facing emails a day from their outside, mobile-based reps. But even there, there was a marked decline from around 11 customer-facing emails per rep, per day to 9. Again a ~20% dip.
Importantly, these are national sales organizations, with sellers distributed across the country, so I don’t think that these numbers point to any particular partisan divide. Rather, it seems to simply be a comment on what happens when something pulls the attention of your sales org away from their priorities.
And that might be something like March Madness, the Super Bowl, or other similarly large popular event.
Conveniently, you can see that the numbers bounce back the following week. But they don’t seem to make up for the initial divot. So that sales activity deficit, if left unaddressed, will be a divot that shows up later in fewer meetings, and most likely, fewer deals.
What can you do about this as a leader, manager, or rep?
First, just be aware of it, and use metrics to hold your team and yourself accountable.
Second, get ahead of it. This is the crux of sales management. If you know that something is pulling your business in a direction that’s undesirable, it’s up to you to take action to pull it in the other direction. So the day after something like this, pump everyone up extra! And if you can’t, make sure that your team make sup for it in the following days and weeks with extra effort.
But the most important thing is awareness in your teams, managers, and leaders, which you can achieve by sharing this post with them!
So what do you think? Did you see this in your sales KPIs the day after the election?