Keeping Score: A Valuable Mindset for Salespeople

The following is adapted from Raise Your Standards by Mark Evans.

In the world of sales, there are no participation trophies. Second place goes out of business, and you can’t cash an honorable mention check. There is only winning and losing.

So, keeping score is a mindset that you must weave into the fabric of your sales career. It’s effective regardless of team size, industry, or experience level, and it is one of the most overlooked tools in sales. Here’s how you can incorporate keeping score into your sales mindset to raise your standards.

The Effectiveness of Keeping Score

There’s a well-known story about Charles M. Schwab, the steel magnate born in 1862. The story, as shared in the unforgettable How to Win Friends and Influence People, is that Schwab was visiting an underperforming mill where the leader had tried everything to motivate his workers to perform.

Schwab devised a simple plan. As the day shift was leaving, he asked one of the men how many heats they performed that day. The man answered “six,” and Schwab chalked an enormous number six on the floor.

The night crew came in and inquired what the six was all about. The next morning the six was replaced with a seven by the night shift. This battle escalated, and a once underperforming mill was now one of the top producing operations.

Schwab tapped into the power of keeping score. And you can too.

Sales is one of the few jobs where people keep score. Most jobs leave you in the dark, wondering how you compare to your peers. How do you know if you’re a good accountant? Can you compare yourself to your peers on a weekly and monthly basis with units of measure that everyone agrees upon?

Sales doesn’t have that problem. It is one of the few careers where no one bats an eye at ranking salespeople, or for that matter telling people what their commission and pay is. Imagine another job doing that!

Using Score Keeping for Yourself or Your Team

Many companies, salespeople, and managers will balk at the idea of keeping score when it comes to sales. They cite a variety of reasons, but in between the protests and the uncomfortable silence, we all know the truth. They’re afraid of being found out. This is absolutely the wrong mindset.

But having a mindset where keeping score is valuable leaves no place for anyone to hide. Don’t shy away from this level of exposure. Embrace it. The transparency allows you to be honest with yourself. Are you doing the work to achieve your goals?

Keeping score doesn’t have to be tricky, complicated, or confusing. You don’t need over-engineered software and complicated math formulas. Take a lesson from Mr. Schwab. He used chalk.

Start with deciding on three to five metrics that are most valuable to your organization. Keep your list to no more than five. Anything more and salespeople don’t know where to concentrate.

Start with calls/outreaches, appointments set or demos, and won deals. You can always add more, but think about your sales process and the most critical metrics in your organization. Make sure these are “easy” numbers for you to pull so reporting and posting the numbers takes no more than a few minutes a week.

Be consistent and never miss a day or week. You need consistency to see patterns and have a score that’s 100 percent accurate.

Next, you’ll want to display these daily, weekly, or monthly results. You can use your CRM, create an Excel document, use a whiteboard or poster paper. Don’t overcomplicate it, and use what you can find. The key here is visibility. Make it so simple to see and comprehend that even someone off the street who has no idea what your company does could easily understand who’s doing well and who’s not.

Two Types of Competitive Salespeople

There are two types of individuals who compete in the sales world — those that compete against each other, and those that compete against themselves. Both are important and knowing who on your team is which type will help you manage their motivations and their scorecard.

For example, for those competing against themselves, the simple act of goal setting and rewards can do the trick. Establish a lofty goal and encourage them to associate a reward that’s a splurge — something tangible they wouldn’t usually spend money on. These seemingly simple tactics can have a considerable impact.

Your Turn

Whether you’re the leader of a sales team or an individual looking to increase their results, you can use this mindset to raise standards. It will be uncomfortable at first, and many will fight it like kids eating veggies at the dinner table.

If you’re an individual looking to hold yourself to this standard, there will be days when you don’t want to do it. Press on. Don’t give in and don’t give up. Be patient and look for little wins.

Start small and be consistent with publishing your scorecard. As Schwab demonstrated, it doesn’t take fancy tools to be effective.

For more advice on the keeping-score mindset, you can find Raise Your Standards on Amazon.

Mark Evans might be the most enthusiastic person you’ll ever meet. His love of sales, life, and the game of business is infectious. He believes that at its very core, sales doesn’t have to be manipulative or sleazy. In fact, Mark believes it’s the greatest job in the world. He’s helped companies and individuals reach the seven-figure sales mark and beyond. At markpatrickevans.com, Mark writes about the new way of selling, and sales leadership.

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