“Microscope Work”: A basic management discipline to improve sales performance

pages with graphs and stats on a table - man and lady forearms and hands showing and a cup of coffee

From my point of view, management must always aim to find a strong balance between, what I would like to term, “Telescope Work” and “Microscope Work”.   The “Telescope Work” entails the longer-term view where the focus is on the future direction of the business in terms of medium and long-term goals to be achieved. The “Microscope Work” entails a deeper dive into an area of importance to ensure the goals are achieved. In this blog, I will focus on the “Microscope Work” in the area of management of sales.  The generation of profitable sales for your business could feel like a car that drives in first gear only, or it’s like a car that has changed to higher gears and runs smoothly. Irrespective of which gear you are driving; it’s imperative that management always applies the “Microscope Work” in the area of sales. The purpose of the “Microscope Work” is to identify the areas to focus on – that will produce the results if corrected in time. The correction always provides new opportunities for salespeople to grow personally and professionally which leads to a change of behaviours that produce results in line with their potential.   Here are the six points to focus your Microscope on during a weekly, 45 minutes, one-on-one meeting between the manager and the salesperson:

  1. Goals: There must be clarity of the goals that need to be achieved in the week. This should be recorded in the simplest units – for example: Number of calls, number of appointments, number of proposals, etc. 
  2. Actual: The actual numbers for each of the weekly goals as above are captured – for example: The actual number of calls, appointments, and proposals.  
  3. Deviation: The deviation is captured – for example: The average percentage for each of the units as described above.  
  4. Reasons: This is the area where the conversation focuses on the reasons for the deviation whether the deviations were positive or negative. The aim of this conversation is to establish all possible reasons for a negative deviation and to examine in finer detail what caused the negative deviation. In a similar way, it is also imperative to establish reasons for the positive deviations as this could provide great insights in relation to actions to be done consistently for future performance. Tip: Watch out for the trap most people fall into such as excuses, blame, and denial. Shift the conversation to ownership, responsibility, and accountability.  
  5. System/Solution: The examining of the reasons as per Point 4 above requires the option of two directions. Solutions to the negative deviations, for example: Which behaviours must change for the following week that will turn the negative deviations into positives. Positive deviations on a consistent basis over a number of weeks could be an indication that the person has a system that works well to produce consistent results and therefore a system is created to be followed in the future.  
  6. Reset and Commitment: In this section, the goals are reset for the following week as described under Point 1. The reset could be that the following week’s goals remain the same as the previous week, or the negative deviation numbers are added to the agreed weekly goals. The aim is to refocus for the next week as if it is a “new game” that will be played with new learnings and changes of behaviours where appropriate, as discussed under Points 4 and 5. 

For consistent high performance, it is important that this meeting takes place on a weekly basis and ideally at an agreed time for every week. It is the sales person’s responsibility to bring the numbers to the meeting and be prepared for a deeper examination of the results in each area.   The manager should always find the balance of keeping the salesperson accountable for the results and provide support in the form of training, coaching, or other tools that will equip the salesperson for better results.   In today’s competitive business environment, your clients are being bombarded with an overflow of knowledge and information that makes it more difficult to choose whose product or service to use. Make sure you have a strong differentiating factor not only from a business point of view but also from a personal point of view. People do business with people they like. How do you make yourself more likable for your client?  

Francois Lubbe, ActionCOACH Business Coach
francoislubbe.actioncoach.com | francoislubbe@actioncoach.com