sales challenge

Why are so many of us in sales still spewing out product garbage, too soon and too often?


It’s crazy to me that we still need to coach sales people not to sell on product. I was just reviewing some old books on my shelf and came across the gem, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book sold millions and has been talked about for decades. It was published in 1989 by Simon and Schuster, 30 years ago.

Here you go, page 244, “An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems. It’s a totally different approach. The professional learns how to diagnose, how to understand.”

“It’s a totally different approach” – Yah  30 years ago it was!!

I realize that today we are also striving to advance the conversation to insights and value creation, and helping customers with ideas and scenario’s that they perhaps havn’t even thought of.

We still need to help customers solve their business problems by developing outcomes for them that resonate and are meaningful for their business and for them personally.

It’s curious to me that many sales consultants and thought leaders talk about this as if its new thinking.

I remember a family friend who sold for a paint manufacturer, yes paint. He traveled all over Canada selling paint. He was a good friend of my dad, and I was just a kid at the time. So this was 40 plus years ago.

I’ll never forget him talking about selling in our living room, smoking his pipe (yes he was smoking a pipe-not very popular these days). He talked about helping his customers, he never talked about the product.

Why are we still even having this conversation?

Because reps astonishingly, are still doing it.

Lets make 2019 the year we pause, think, ask questions, sincerely care about the outcome, and listen, I mean, really, actively, listen.

I help coach professionals on this topic among others on a continual basis, yes its still an issue.

It’s very rewarding to see them make the shift into outcomes and how they see very quickly that it changes the whole dynamic of the conversation they have with their clients in a positive way.

Please feel free to comment on this topic and join the conversation.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website,, you can also order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.


Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, part time sales leadership or contract work, advising, or speaking engagements contact me directly;

Are you a Super Bowl Sales Coach? There are 4 fundamentals which will help you become a "Super Bowl" Sales Coach.


Are you a Super Bowl Coach?

There are 4 tried and true coaching fundamentals which will help you become a “Super Bowl” Sales Leader.

As human beings we are searching for meaning in our lives, some seek money and power and status of course. I think that is fleeting, while temporarily satisfying, in and of itself, it doesn’t add much meaning to our lives.

To truly have meaning in our lives we need to add meaning to other people’s lives. To make a difference, to contribute in a positive way.

As sales leaders it’s about helping team members be the best that they can be and helping them meet their objectives and goals, both at work and in their lives.

One sure fire way to do that, is through effective, meaningful coaching. The benefit of great coaching is that results happen.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a big sports fan and an even bigger football fan. I believe that there are so many parallels between sports and sales leadership and especially sales coaching.

I love watching the intensity on the sidelines of some of the great coaches, how they are so in the moment, watching every play, adjusting, being right there with their players on the field of battle.

Watch the two, very different coaches at this Sundays Super Bowl, Sean McVay and Bill Belichick.

One will be out there fist pumping on occasion, the other will be more stoic and even tempered, but no less intense.

I’ve read a ton from many of the coaches that I admire, like Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, John Wooden, Bill Walsh and Pat Quinn.

There are so many lessons to be learned by studying these greats, not only on how they coached but on how they lived their lives.

They are not remembered for their status, or how much money they made.

They are remembered for their results, but even more importantly they are remembered for the meaningful difference they made in the lives of those that they coached.

I have been a leader for over 20 years, I have studied and read about the craft of leadership and coaching, I became a certified coach in two different coaching programs, and then I wrote a book about it; The Street Savvy Sales Leader.

In addition to that experience, I also interviewed over 100 sales professionals.

There is no doubt that effective and consistent coaching is a Sales Team Game Changer.

This is my 2-minute summary of what it takes to create an effective coaching relationship.

The 4 Fundamentals of Great Sales Coaching

Number 1: Trust.

You need to be authentic, genuine and sincere and have the best interests of your people at heart.

You need to care.

This means listening to your reps, asking thoughtful questions and being collaborative and willing to have a constructive back and forth conversation vs being solely directive.

The greater the trust, the more open your team will be and the more you will learn about them as people and what their issues and challenges are.

That’s when the magic happens, when you can really help them be their best selves, through effective coaching.

Number 2: Specific.

It is important that the coaching is specific to each individual’s needs and goals.

You need to coach to the unique level of experience, skill set, challenges, strengths and weaknesses, talents, and character of each individual.

Reps need and want the coaching to be unique to them personally.

Real-world, relatable examples work far better than textbook scenarios or theory.

Number 3: Credibility.

Salespeople need coaching not only to come from a credible source but also to be credible.

In other words, the Sales leader is leading by example because of their experience and expertise.

Sales people in this case will truly value a coach’s viewpoint and recognize the benefit of collaborative creative new ideas and strategic account and sales call assistance.

Number 4: Timely.

Coaching needs to be timely, in real time if possible.

The immediate application of coaching lessons leads to sticky learning.

Coaching around a sales call for example should be right after the call, or same day, but no longer than 24 hours or it will not be nearly as effective.

John Wooden talked about the fact that if he couldn’t coach in the moment or within a few minutes of the event, it was a waste of time and you might as well not even bother.

In Conclusion; Great leaders are also great coaches

There is so much more to coaching, the above are 4 meaningful fundamentals to think about in your coaching moments.

They will help lead to greater performance.

Think about it—How do you want to be remembered?

Do you want to be remembered as one among many managers, or do you want to be remembered as someone who made a meaningful difference in people’s lives?

I pick the latter!   

Effective coaching means you need to take the time, it means you need to shift from it being about you, to its being about the people that report to you.

If you’re ready to be a Super Bowl Coach, ready for transformation, and ready to make a difference contact me today.

Email me at

It will lead to greater results—Effective coaching is transformative!


To read about other sales leadership topics or to learn more about sales coaching, check out my website .

Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me for a free consultation by email

Some of My Favorite Quotes For Sales Are About Preparation, Why Is that?


Preparation for me is part of my coaching that I give on a regular basis and it is a part of the culture that I always instill in sales teams.

I know from personal experience that the more I prepared, the better the results I achieved.

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” Vince Lombardi

Certainly, there is a balance, you don’t want to be stymied and end up not doing anything, but if I was to choose between under preparing and over preparing, I’d pick over preparing in most cases.

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail” John Wooden

Due to the buyer challenges we face today, sales must step up to the increased expectation around the sales conversation. To meet those expectations, it requires thorough preparation. I think the more seasoned you are, the more knowledge you have, the easier you can adapt and meet each selling situation, but even seasoned sales professionals need to spend time preparing for each customer interaction to ensure they are maximizing that extremely valuable customer face time. Typically, you don’t get a second chance.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” Alexander Graham Bell

Getting to the value outcome or solution outcome that matches the client’s needs is the main objective. Getting there requires a deeper understanding of the buyer’s decision process. 

If the value lies not in what you sell, but in the insights and innovative thinking that you bring to the table, then preparation is key.

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax” Abraham Lincoln

Even existing clients are often too busy to return your calls or take the time for a face to face meeting. This is the number one challenge facing sales forces today.

This makes it even more compelling to ensure sales is supported with the tools they need, and the time they need to be ready for their sales engagements. As organizations we must ensure we are not inundating sales with non-sales stuff. We can’t expect sales to be on top of their game and win new opportunities if you have them mired with administrative trivia and other tasks that other departments or support should be taking care of.

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” Bobby Unser

That about sums up the challenge. I have said this repeatedly for many years now, the sales rep is the differentiation. I think it has always been that way, but you could get away with more in the past. You could have a good relationship, or you could be the best at follow-up and paying attention to detail. You could have the best solution and price. Now you must have that little bit extra that requires an enormous amount of extra preparation for the rep.

“What you know and how you leverage it is the biggest factor in your success…. How we sell is more important than what we sell” Jill Konrath

One of the most important, limited resources a sales rep has is their time. I am constantly reminding reps with how important their time is, and thus how important it is to spend it wisely. Company’s don’t have a lot patience with numbers not being met. As a result, you need to be productive quickly and consistently to be successful.

“Measure twice before you cut” My Dad

The list of preparation quotes could go on, they are simply an example, to ensure we do not underestimate how important it truly is.

For more information, suggestions, and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,, and/or order my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements

My Garage Station Sales Preparation Aha Moment !!!

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

I just had an aha moment after needing my car to be repaired at a small family owned and operated service station in a small town of a population of 3,000.

I got to talking to the co-owner of the garage while I was waiting for my car to be finished. This couple  bought the business 3 years ago and they have tripled the business in that period.

Their customer service was impeccable, and you knew they treated their employees (perhaps 5  employee’s in total) like gold.

The co-owner explained to me that they paid their mechanic higher than any other mechanic in the region, gave him 4 weeks off a year, paid vacation, and supplied lunch every single day.

That mechanic treated the business like it was his own.

After my service was complete they went over in detail what they had done and explained to me that the parts were under warranty and that if anything goes wrong, let them know and they’ll make sure they fix it, they then gave me their card so I could call anytime.

The real point of my story is that the one partner used to be a sales person before buying this business. I mentioned that I was in sales to and had written a book about sales. She was intrigued and said she would buy one of my books for sure. There you go, I made a quick sale in the middle of nowhere.

She then went on to say that she knew how difficult it can be to be a sales person and her business receives calls all the time from sales people wanting her business. Whether it be for tools, insurance, cleaning supplies you name it.

Because of her experience as a sales person herself, she is particularly sensitive to sales people and makes sure that when they call she is kind and doesn’t just fluff them off.

The aha moment for me came when I learned very quickly that the sales challenges that I write about extensively are much more pervasive than I imagined.  Sure my book applies to all B2B business, but I really didn’t think in terms of this small an example.

She told me the story of receiving a call from a sales person asking to speak to the owner. She politely asked the sales person if they knew what the owner’s name was. The sales rep responded that no he didn’t know the name but wanted to speak with whoever it was.

She promptly hung up and told me, if a rep can’t even be prepared enough and do the research to know who the owners of the business are, they don’t get any time with me.

Here is a small b2b business owner, in a small town, far from any sized city environment, and she wants a better B2B sales experience. She wants more from sales people.

Just think of how important and how prepared you need to be in every sales interaction, and multiply that 10x for larger and more complex sales engagements.

Buyers expectations are higher than they have ever been, and I mean pretty much any buyer.

Do not underestimate the importance of preparing--if you don't prepare, be prepared to fail.

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website, , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at


Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

The Top Three Challenges Facing Sales Organizations Today And What To Do About It !

Photo by Shane Rounce

Photo by Shane Rounce

This is definitely my most important post so far.

While companies all face different challenges, there are three universal ones plaguing the sales industry today:

1. The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically. There are now more decision makers in every sales situation; the buyer is busier, more knowledgeable and more risk-averse; the buyer’s expectations of the sales profession are much higher; and the decision process is more complex. Thus, it is harder than ever to move a buyer to make a change.

2. It is tougher than ever before to differentiate your offering. Companies and salespeople are struggling to stand out and truly offer something of sincere value in every step of the sales process to their customers in a very crowded market. Even if you have a product or service that can be differentiated it’s still tough to get buyer mindshare.

3. Sales reps are facing increasingly complex and time-challenging demands. Companies want more data (typically through CRM platforms), reps need to be more knowledgeable about their product and more prepared for every sales interaction than they ever have and there is greater pressure on reps to provide consistently higher sales. The reps may not receive sufficient support, so they need to work harder to balance increased internal demands against winning more sales.


So, here we have the perfect storm: a more complex and challenging customer environment, where more time is essential to properly prepare for each customer interaction; a proliferation of products and competitors that makes differentiation more challenging; and increased expectations for both sales achievements and non-selling activities.


My strident message to senior sales leaders and B to B executives and owners;

You absolutely cannot have your cake and eat it, too. Sales needs the time to focus on selling and, at the same time, the sales organization needs to close the gap between buyers’ expectations and the sales community’s skills and expertise.

So if you want to be a world class sales organization, give your team the tools and support they need and let your sales people sell. Do not overburden them with non selling stuff !!!


Creating a Best-in-Class Sales Team

I have witnessed firsthand these increased challenges in the marketplace and in the customer mindset, yet I believe sales remains an exciting and rewarding career. Despite what others may suggest, sales is not dead, it is evolving. And we in the field must adapt.

In order to meet business growth objectives, you need to overcome today’s challenges. The only way to do that is to build a best-in-class sales team. By best-in-class, I mean a sales organization built on a solid foundation that’s composed of a winning, supportive and collaborative sales culture; caring leadership; an effective hiring process; a strong sales process with robust analytics; proven execution; a customer-driven philosophy; and a mindset of continuous improvement and learning.


Below are the 10 imperatives that I believe are critical for developing a sales organization that will help you win in the marketplace and meet your revenue goals.


1. A well-thought-out, customized hiring process to find the candidates with the most potential to succeed.

2. A defined onboarding program and talent management system that will get your new hires firing on all cylinders as quickly as possible and keep them that way.

3. A finely tuned sales process and funnel management.

4. Appropriate key performance indicators, metrics and analytics to measure success.

5. Sales planning to ensure you are calling on the right targets and that your salespeople are focused.

6. Sales methodology to ensure consistency and effectiveness in the sales process.

7. Effective real-time coaching to help your salespeople be their best.

8. Compensation and reward and recognition programs that are aligned with what you need to achieve.

9. Change management, because change is here to stay.

10. A caring, high-performance culture where sales employees feel they are a part of something of value and where they can express themselves and collaborate freely in a team environment.


These imperatives will enable your sales leadership to create a best-in-class sales team, which will provide your organization with the best possible opportunity to win in the marketplace.


It is these 10 imperatives that my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader is all about.


For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website, , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at


Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

What Is Your Sales Turnover Costing Your Business?

Photo by Matthew Kane

Photo by Matthew Kane

A study titled Hiring Top Sales Management, conducted by the Sales Management Association in late 2015, found that a mere 33 percent of the 152 firms involved in the study conducted a well-defined hiring process when hunting for new sales talent. If you extrapolate from these study results, it means that two-thirds of sales organizations hire one of the most important roles in the company using an informal process (in other words: they hire without putting a lot of thought into the key ingredients of a successful hire for their organization). Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement and ways to save companies from lost opportunity by making the wrong call.

What gets measured, gets done, and stats can really help in determining where problems lie. Ideally, you want to know the turnover statistics of your sales force separate from the rest of the company. Also, statistics should be broken down by wanted and unwanted, or voluntary versus involuntary. This is HR language for when someone exits the organization on their own (voluntary or unwanted) or whether they were asked to leave (wanted or involuntary).

A voluntary exit and an involuntary exit are two different challenges and need to be dealt with in different ways. Exit interviews should be conducted for all voluntary exits in order to fix problems that might otherwise continue to arise or to spot underlying trends that you may need to pay attention to.

Let’s look at some numbers to illustrate what I mean. Let’s say you have a sales staff of 46, and three employees leave on average per month. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like a lot, does it? But it equates to an annual sales employee turnover of 78 percent. Almost 80 percent of your sales resources has turned over in this simple example:

Formula: Divide the number of employees who left over the period by the average number of total employees over the period.

3 exits x 12 months = 36 exits

36 exits over 46 total sales force is 78% per annum

For a monthly turnover rate in this example, you would divide 3 exits by 46 staff, which would be 6.5% per month. Obviously, that’s not a good statistic.

The three exits per month should be broken down by voluntary and involuntary so you can know how many were let go versus those who left on their own. If, on average, two leave per month on their own, that’s a voluntary turnover of 52 percent and an involuntary rate of 26 percent. Both statistics would need improvement, but it is critical to examine the voluntary exits to figure out the root cause of each of the exits. Without knowing the root causes, the company could be spending a lot of money unnecessarily on trying to fix the wrong things.

There are hugely differing views on the cost of replacing sales hires, varying from a low of one-third of the individual’s salary to over 100 percent of the individual’s salary. I’ve seen numbers as high as $600,000 and more. A 2012 article in Selling Power indicates that salesperson mis-hires can cost as much as $616,000. It is difficult to pinpoint an overall number, however, as the circumstances are so totally different from one company to another. Some might use recruiters to find new hires, and doing so can carry a high cost. Some companies use internal recruiters who, in turn, recruit through job boards on the internet and may also use recruiters. Some organizations might, on average, have mostly long-tenured salespeople while other companies may have mostly less-tenured salespeople. Obviously, the cost will be higher in losing long-tenured, good performers. They are tough to replace.

To go back to the example given above, if you use the most conservative mis-hire cost of 100 percent of the salary of any given sales employee, and that salary is $60,000, the cost would be $60,000 per exit. The turnover in the example would be costing the company a conservative $2 million-plus per year. Again, I view this as conservative if you think about recruitment costs, retraining and onboarding the new salespeople and getting them up to the same productivity levels as the employee who left. This could take three months, and in most cases, six to 12 months or even longer. During this time, no or minimal sales will be achieved and the demands of the manager during onboarding will be significant. Potential customer issues could arise, and there’s the risk of prospects being dropped or lost in the cracks between transitions. The list goes on.

A thorough hiring practice review could help prevent a good portion of these costs. I lived this firsthand in one company where I was the sales leader. We had well over a 60-percent turnover rate when I joined the company. By building well thought out hiring practices in partnership with HR, we brought down the turnover to under 30 percent. This was a massive cost savings for the company and resulted in a significant uplift in sales productivity.

It’s worthy to note, that to attract and retain new hires you need to have a pay structure and a compensation plan that is market competitive and a solid sales culture, or you won’t attract the right people and/or keep them. I have heard it said on several occasions that people don’t work for money. I beg to differ when it comes to sales. Sure, there are other factors, but good salespeople—your top talent—want to get paid well. Pretty much in every single interview I have conducted (which would be in the hundreds), rarely was money not an issue at some point in the hiring process.

For every voluntary exit, the organization should always conduct an exit interview, as mentioned earlier, to understand why people are leaving, especially if they are top performers. This can often be a challenge to get to the root cause, as exiting employees are not always candid or forthcoming about the real reason they want to leave the company. But it is worth the effort to come as close as possible to the answers, so that you can make improvements where necessary. You can also spot problem areas when, for example, the turnover is higher on one sales team on average than it is on another sales team. This gives you an opportunity to probe and find out what might be going on within that team to cause the disruptions/turnover.

Of course there are many factors in sales turnover, but fixing or improving hiring practises is a great start to improving turnover rates.

Key Questions to Ask

For the sales leader, here are some points to consider :

Have you investigated and detailed the drivers of performance for the top performers in your company?

Have you created a model of “what good looks like” that helps make clear those drivers and behaviors of top performers?

Have you developed a program to test for those drivers for new recruits?

Have you created detailed and well-thought-out job descriptions or profiles for all your sales roles?

Have you created specific interview questions and assessment competency tests?

Do you have a standard hiring process to ensure consistent results?

Have you established a hiring criteria grid to organize and rank your hiring short list?

Do you manage and track turnover by tenure and experience, so you can manage the sales rep’s lifecycle and raise the performance based on tenure?

Have you developed an effective reference-checking process?

Do you conduct exit interviews with unwanted turnover employees?

Do you have a compelling story to recruit the best salespeople possible?

I would love to hear your viewpoint on this topic, please comment below. Or email me at

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website

Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email

Sales Metrics-Yes you need it but how much is too much?


Metrics don’t replace the Art of selling,, they augment it.

I’ve interviewed many sales leaders, accountability around sales metrics was mentioned as a top priority. So, there is no doubt that leaders recognize how important metrics and analytics are in the maximizing of their sales team’s performance.

Sales analytics basically provide information for sales management to assess the sales and marketing efforts. The analytics can help with accurate sales forecasting, more sophisticated funnel management and trends, enhanced buyer knowledge, and performance by rep. They can also facilitate more meaningful coaching conversations by giving managers the data they need to help the reps be more efficient and effective. The balancing act here is to be able to surface the optimal type of information without over burdening the sales teams.

Part of the story is to ensure that sales teams have the support they need, and that they know the “why” behind the data. Any data that can be derived and entered without the need for a field salesperson should be done by sales support when possible. Keep salespeople in the field as much as you can. For data they need to manipulate, make sure it’s easy for them to manage and that they’re able to do it remotely using mobility tools.


“What gets measured, gets done.”

–Mason Haire, organization theorist


There is no question that sales management needs metrics in order make sure the funnel is as full as it can be and that the sales group is meeting the revenue expectations of the company; however, the amount and type of information required needs to be specific to the unique demands of different businesses.

It’s safe to say that metrics are equally important to the reps themselves, as they own the outcome. The best salespeople know where they stand at all times and what they have to do to be successful. For those who don’t know, it’s up to management to assist and coach in this very important area. It may seem quite intuitive how important this is, but not all sales management or salespeople fully appreciate it.

As Jeb Blount points out in his book, Fanatical Prospecting: “It is no different in sales. Elite salespeople, like elite athletes, track everything. You will never reach peak performance until you know your numbers and use those numbers to make directional corrections.”1

The important thing to keep in mind here is to pick the right metrics that will get you to where you need to go, and ensure you are only using metrics that are necessary. Overdoing metrics will overburden the sales force with activity—that will do nothing more than take them away from filling their funnel and closing more business. 

In determining what to measure its important to measure activity as well as the outcome of the activity. Some sales people will argue, how can you measure what you seemingly can’t control, such as a customer’s decision-making process? or when a deal closes?

The major priority behind sales is to influence the decision making process and to close new opportunities. Yes there can be pieces of the decision process that are difficult to measure and change, and we can’t always predict exactly when a deal is going to close. But it is our role as much as possible in sales to influence, change, and help with buyers decisions, and to close business. So we need to measure both, the activity we need to engage in, and the outcomes we are being asked to perform.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Weinberg, who stated, “You cannot build a sustainable productive, healthy sales culture without a laser focus on goals and results. And that’s especially true if you want to maintain a high level of sales talent within the organization. A-players want to be pushed, expect to [be] held accountable for exceeding goals, and won’t tolerate being micro managed.”2

While the metrics are important, it’s equally important how you measure and manage them. As mentioned, top salespeople don’t like to be micromanaged—and they shouldn’t be. But knowing what activity typically drives what result is mission critical. Where the management of these metrics becomes especially important is to manage to the individual needs of each sales person. Each person is different, and therefore, how you coach and manage each person needs to be different. The same goes for metrics: they need to be used, but they need to be used in different ways for different situations.

The importance in using data is not about micromanagement; it’s about helping the reps understand what they need to do in order to meet their objectives. If used in the right way, with the right kind of coaching, the use of relevant data will be welcomed by the sales force, as they’ll  know it will help them be more successful.

Some sales organizations opt to be granular about the reps’ activity. How many sales calls are the reps making per week on average? The old adage, “You can’t sell anything unless you’re actually talking to a customer” is very true. Whether it’s an inside sales role or outside only, the dynamic is the same; and, typically, it’s a numbers game. The more customers a sales rep sees and presents solutions to, the more sales that rep is likely going to make. The issue is how many sales calls are required to be successful, and this is where art versus science comes into the picture. Until you measure the activity and get some history, you’re guessing. You need data.  And of course, where the art comes into play, some sales people will require less activity to reach the same result as they are more effective than their peers.

In enterprise-level large companies with complex sales, it’s less about the number of meetings and other specific measures and more about strategic planning and action plans around specific opportunities.

Remember, one size does not fit all. Align what you are measuring to the role and against the outcome you are after.

I would love to hear from your viewpoint on this topic, please comment below.

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website .

Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email


1)      Fanatical Prospecting, The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, And Cold Calling—Jeb Blount, John Wiley and Sons Inc, New Jersey, 2015, page 37

2)      Sales Management Simplified-The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results From your Sales Team, Mike Weinberg, Amacom, 2016, page 13



What is Sales Productivity and How Do You Measure It?

Photo by Toa Hefliba

Photo by Toa Hefliba

What is Sales Productivity and how do you measure it?

What gets measured gets done!

Sales productivity is one of the most talked about sales leadership subjects, so much so that I wrote a whole book on the subject. (The Street Savvy Sales Leader-due out summer 2018)

How to do you get more out of your sales resources?

At its most basic level, it is about building the best sales teams you can possibly build;

have them work together collaboratively;

support them and coach them to the highest level possible;

help point them in the right direction and plan for success;

have a mindset of continuous improvement and learning;

don’t bog them down with excess administration and other extraneous reporting or management demands;

build a strong sales process with well defined analytics;

have a customer-driven mindset;

and build a culture where they can flourish in a trusting, and caring environment.

The answer to the question on what is sales productivity and how do you measure it depends in large part on what is being sold, the market segment and size, and fundamentally what is most important for the organization to measure.  But at the end of the day, to me it's quite straight forward, the more each individual sales rep sells on average (Whatever the measure), the higher the sales productivity.

This could be the more widgets or units the sales rep sells, or the more revenue the sales rep sells, or the more margin a sales rep sells, more net new customers, or increased wallet share. The measurement really depends on what the company is trying to achieve, what is most important to the growth of the company, and what is the company’s strategy. In a declining market for example it could even represent retention numbers. The answer lies at least in part in what your company objectives are.

The more challenging question is How do you measure it? What is the benchmark? and What do you want or need it to be?

The best example of a sales productivity measurement is to simply calculate what was sold by the sales force in one period and compare it to what was sold in a latter period. So, from a starting point, “what gets measured gets done”. You must start tracking all the sales numbers so you know where you’re at.  I know it’s a given, but I also know of many organizations, and quite large and somewhat sophisticated companies that really don’t have a good handle on their detailed sales numbers.

How can you set a benchmark and track progress? How do you know if any investments you make contributes to the sales force selling more stuff if you don’t have the measurements in the first place? How do you even know what your problems are if you can’t measure the actual sales statistics?

The best example of sales reporting I ever experienced was in a mid sized company of just under 200 employees with over 30 sales reps at the time. We knew how much each rep sold each month for the previous 5 years. We knew what was sold by each rep by tenure, how much they sold on average if they were a 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, or 12 month and longer tenured rep. We knew how much was sold on average by geographic region and by product, we also knew how much was sold on average by each sales manager. We tracked this by average by month and by rolling average by quarter.

On top of that, we knew these statistics and could tie them in with turnover ratios as well. These measurements helped us understand our sales results and our comparative sales results over time, by region, by manager, and by sales rep tenure. We could pinpoint sales problems in all those areas so that we could dig in and work on determining why the numbers were off, and take steps to improve them.

You can’t figure out where you’re going without knowing where you are. I can’t stress this enough; sales reporting is critical to sales productivity improvements.

Another measure that we could derive very simply from this reporting was the Sales Participation ratio’s which is also a crucial measurement to understand further your sales productivity status. It is the classic Top Producer syndrome, are you getting far too much of your results from too few people? What percentage of your sales force is creating the bulk of your revenue growth? In many organizations, it’s the classic 80/20 rule, getting 80% of your results from 20% of your sales force. This needs to be challenged and worked on to improve at every turn. It is fundamental to the improvement of your sales growth.

You are probably asking yourself, how much does it cost to get these numbers, how much resources do I need to get this kind of reporting? I argue the latter; how much is it going to cost if you don’t? Tens of thousands of dollars, Hundreds of thousands of dollars, even Millions of dollars in some cases. One of the smallest organizations I worked for with the fewest resources had the best sales reporting out of any company I ever worked for.

From these sale’s reports, you can then see what the current results are, or the benchmark results are if you will. From here you set the targets you need to achieve, and then it’s a matter of setting a plan to get there.

Sales productivity improvements can be effected and affected by many high-level levers, basically though, it’s how talented your sales people are, and then it’s a matter of how efficient and effective you can help them become.

Efficiency is all about how sales is using their time, are they talking to the right people with the right message at the right time. I often ask my sales people; What is one of the most important asset that you have personally that contributes to your success?  The answer is Your Time!  How they can use their time more efficiently and effectively is largely how they will improve their results.

There was one time study conducted in 2013 that found that reps were spending 19% of their time in internal meetings, 41% of their time selling, and 40% of their time searching or creating and revising sales/marketing material. Not great news, less than half a sales rep’s time is spent selling. This number was much worse in some of the companies that I have witnessed.

As Neil Rackman, author of SPIN Selling stated “An effective sales force is a more sustainable competitive advantage than a great product stream” (1)

That pretty much sums up how important the sales function is and therefore how important it is that we make it the best we possibly can.

For more information on sales productivity or other leadership imperatives, please refer to my website, or my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, or email me at


Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements


(1)   Spin Selling-Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff-Neil Rackman, McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1988, Page xvi