Marketing’s adoption of metrics, attribution, analytics and ROI has been transformational for the business and we’ve all seen the stats from Gartner indicating that CMO’s will soon spend more on technology than CIO’s. Marketing leaders are continuously striving for increased precision around our team’s impact, and a recent study on Marketing attribution and Measurement indicated that 89% of Marketing leaders still have improving their ability to measure and analyze marketing impact as a top priority. We strive for total accountability of each dollar or resource invested, meticulously tracking and concretely linking every effort to leads, qualified/target accounts, new pipeline and, ideally, the revenue generated.

With this level of transparency in Marketing execution, why do so many Sales teams still remain opaque about their sales activity metrics? This lack of visibility hurts rep performance, marketing/sales alignment and, ultimately, growth.

Sales teams cannot be managed to revenue

First, let’s agree on what is meant by “managing”. A Harvard Business Review study on sales metrics, used this definition: “[the] criteria for managing [is] that a frontline sales manager could directly influence the metric by asking someone to do something differently and experience the desired change in the metric.” So, can you ask your sales team to simply “close more deals” and expect it to happen? No, of course not. If you are attempting to manage your sales team to revenue, it’s like a coach asking his sprinter to “just run faster” in order to win the race or her basketball player to “just sink more shots”.

Coaches understand that an athlete or team winning any given competition is a lagging indicator, not a leading one. So they work with their athletes on form, technique, strength-building and flexibility — all things they can see and measure, and where achievement is 100% within the athlete’s control.

It’s the same with where each of your sales reps will end their quarter – it is a lagging metric they can’t don’t have control over. This is why the best sales leaders manage their teams to activities where achievement is wholly within the control of each rep.

It’s not micromanagement, it’s modern sales management

Too many sales leaders balk at the idea of managing to sales activities because it feels like “telling reps how to do their jobs”. And, it is definitely more work for sales leaders to understand the key selling activities, train reps on it, and proactively manage all them to these metrics versus allowing each rep to wing-it through trial and error.

Salesforce reported that 56% of sales teams were already using sales activity metrics with another 19% planning to adopt them in the next year. And, in a subsequent survey, it showed that high performing sales teams – who have significantly exceeded revenue growth goals yoy – were 2.4x more likely to rate their sales analytics as outstanding or very good.

These results speak for themselves – solid sales analytics drives solid performance. Managing to a sales team’s activities shines a light on what each individual rep can do each day, week, month and quarter. And it is this visibility into the productivity of key selling actions which allows for more proactive, directed and effective sales management. Sales leaders no longer are simply providing generic coaching across their whole team, rather, each 1:1 can be focused and highly relevant to each individual rep.

Transparency breeds Sales and Marketing alignment

Eavesdrop on any sales and marketing team at a happy hour and you’ll hear the most common Marketing gripe is that sales “isn’t doing enough” with the leads, accounts and opportunities handed to them. And on the other side, Sales gripes “we just need more quality leads”.

While Marketing has invested and built the skills to significantly increase the visibility into the volume, quality and impact of what it brings to Sales; needed visibility into the “last mile” activities of sales teams is often missing. Far too often the funnel is plagued by accounts going dark and the Sales response is “we did everything we could” – yet the majority of the time, a manual review into the activities on these “ghosted” accounts generally shows generic email follow-ups and little to no account development.

Without visibility into the desired sales activities, there is no way for sales leadership to proactively see where each rep may need personalized training and coaching. Plus increased visibility into sales activities will both increase Marketing team confidence in the sales effort and will help to identify ways where marketing can help to optimize sales’ efforts.

In my experience, sales teams that aren’t managed to activities consistently underperform while those that do utilize sales analytics continuously improve and are far better partners with their marketing teams. Marketing leaders, let’s stand together on this, shall we? Let’s insist our sales partners manage sales activities because visibility into every part of the funnel is what’s necessary for growth.