Recently I announced the launch of our new business, Funnel Metrics, LLC, a software and professional services firm that offers a unique suite of sales enablement and performance management solutions to help Sales Leaders improve revenue growth and forecasting predictability.  Going forward, we’re excited to have the opportunity to share what we’ve learned based on over 75 years of collective sales management experience.  In this post, I’d like to share some background about how the concept of Funnel Metrics evolved and explain why the practice of Funnel Metrics matters.

Where Did Funnel Metrics Come From?

There is an interesting story behind Funnel Metrics and our shared experience in developing the practices that make up our business.  I first collaborated with co-workers at YesMail, where we ran a highly successful sales team of 60 people.  My partners Jan Lofgren and Terry Walsh worked for me at Orbitz, where we created a high velocity sales team that helped Orbitz to become one of the leading firms in the online corporate travel industry.  It was through these efforts that we developed the concepts we subsequently used in our careers to successfully manage sales teams and help clients dramatically improve sales performance.

The original concepts behind Funnel Metrics were created during my early leadership role at Giga Information Group, and later at YesMail and at Orbitz. Over time, Funnel Metrics has evolved into a series of fundamental sales enablement principles that we believe are the foundation sales leaders can build on to effectively manage their team.  We felt so strongly about the importance of these principles that we decided to start a business to share what’s behind them to help clients get the most out of their selling efforts. But there is more to this journey – it’s relevant to the journey that many sales enablement professionals have taken and it’s why we are so excited to launch this business.

What Problem Does Funnel Metrics Address?

As sales leaders, we share something in common with many of our peers who are VP’s of Sales and C-Level executives focused on revenue.  We started out as outstanding sales reps, and at some point, our bosses came to us and anointed us to be “in charge” of the sales team.  Terry has recounted his story in previous posts about how he got into Sales, and later, how he became a Sales Manager. He went into Sales because as a Sales Engineer, Terry did a better job of selling than his sales rep peers (and they made all the commissions!). Later, as the best sales rep, he was appointed to become the VP of Sales because management thought he could transfer his sales skills to the team.

Jan and I have similar stories; in fact, 80% of the time, sales leaders we have worked with have shared similar backgrounds. Despite my sales success, nothing prepared me for the challenges of supervising sales people, managing an opportunity pipeline, or the pressures and politics of hitting sales numbers at the end of the quarter and year. The collective stories of my colleagues and clients have confirmed that they were no better off than me. If anything, they were less prepared.

The recent study released by CSO Insights, “Sales Managers: Overwhelmed and Underdeveloped”, confirms what we all believe: “Asking a sales manager to increase sales, without giving them the skills and understanding to know which levers to pull and how to pull them, is like putting them on the Autobahn without a license to drive.”

I agree with this premise. Funnel Metrics came about because as a sales leader I knew that I could not achieve the same level of success I had as a sales person without implementing critical sales management skills, acquiring the right information to manage the team, and taking specific actions to improve sales rep performance.  As the CSO Insight study points out, Sales leaders do not “manage sales”, they manage sales people.  Sales Manager Enablement is fundamental to Funnel Metrics and to how we approach working with clients to improve sales team performance.

What are the Components of Funnel Metrics?

What are the critical levers of Funnel Metrics that we believe are meaningful to Sales Manager Enablement?  Here is our summary list:

  • Enabling sales team members to Understand the Customer
  • Designing/Implementing an Effective Sales Process
  • Defining Effective Metrics
  • Analyzing and interpreting Sales Forecasts
  • Compensation
  • Technology (CRM, Social Media)
  • Hiring the right people
  • Creating effective Sales Communications
  • Product/Service Knowledge
  • Creating a Motivational Sales Culture

Funnel Metrics is fundamentally a best practices approach for Sales Managers that provides a complete set of processes, tools and skills to manage a high-performance sales team.  For businesses that want to improve sales team performance, or for sales leaders who want to be better managers, it’s an opportunity to see if you are doing everything possible to make your team as good as it can be.  We also know from experience that nearly every management team benefits from an improved perspective on sales reporting, especially analytical approaches to assessing and improving the sales forecast. (Would you be comfortable if you could consistently predict revenues within 5% of your actual revenue?)

What is an Example of a Funnel Metrics Best Practice?

One of the important things I have learned from my sales leadership experience is that it’s important to have a transparent means of evaluating and managing sales performance in a way that everyone understands. That means a) that the entire team must participate in the process, and b) that like sales enablement itself, it recognizes the importance of the practice to create value for the entire business.

One practice we advocate is what we call Sales Certification. This is a process used to facilitate the evaluation of sales team members, requiring managers to continually evaluate team member performance in both subjective categories (such as quality of relationships with internal support resources, like Marketing) and quantitative metrics (such as prospecting calls, quota attainment, proposals generated, etc.).

While the measures are business specific, the idea is to have several categories to which points are assigned, so that each quarter reps can be evaluated on their overall performance using a point system. The point system also clearly identifies where improvement is needed, and has the benefit of fully documenting performance from an HR perspective. The Sales Certification process has proven highly successful in providing a clear, transparent and efficient way of communicating and managing performance. This complements more traditional analytical approaches by adding a proactive evaluation component that managers can leverage with team members.

Next Steps

In future posts, our team will be sharing more details about Funnel Metrics practices, and about our Funnelocitysm approach to sales analysis and reporting. We’re looking forward to engaging and to bringing Sales Manager Enablement practices and tools to our clients and the marketplace.