key performance indicators

Are Your KPI’s In The Way Of Your KRA’s?

April 14, 2015

Key Performance IndicatorMost salespeople we train know they need to achieve their KPI’s, as this is the key measurement against which their performance is analysed.

Normally these performance areas revolve around the number of calls they need to make, the amount of leads they need to generate or the time spent on each lead.

It is necessary to have these performance indicators so you can identify where your time is most usefully spent and they give your management the opportunity to see where development needs are required.

However, sometimes we see salespeople so bogged down with indicators that they are either impossible to achieve fully or there are so many of them that it’s simply impossible for them all to be ‘key’ indicators. In fact, one salesperson told one of my trainers he had over 50 KPI’s he had to meet.

That seems nonsensical to me, as no-one can spend their time hoping to achieve that number of goals. So instead, I ask my team to concentrate on KRA’s, that is, Key Result Areas.

Now, it may sound pedantic or petty, but there really is a big difference between the two.

Take, for example, the Call-Centre KPI of answering the phone within a certain number of rings, or the salesperson KPI of calling so many prospects in a week. It’s entirely plausible for these KPI’s to be hit every single time; yet the outcome may not be a satisfied customer or a new client.

I pay my guys on the number of clients they close because that is when we get the money rolling in. The fact they answer the phones quickly doesn’t always necessarily close the deal. Granted, not answering the phone quickly or professionally may lose the deal but it doesn’t automatically close it.

So, I ask my team to concentrate on results. I call these the ‘What to achieve’ goals, or the Key Result Areas. What they do to achieve them are called the ‘How to Achieve’ steps.

The KRA’s are the results I want. The KPI’s are the steps to achieve them.

I’ve often found that if I give a team member a KRA, they find different ways or steps to achieve them, without being constrained by a series of KPI’s.

I use KPI’s whenever a team member falls short of a target, so they can get back on track. But I’d rather them get 5 sales from 15 calls than 2 sales from 50 calls. They may hit the KPI of making 50 calls, but if they don’t get the results I want, it could be constituted a waste of valuable time. Quality beats quantity every time.

So, don’t let your KPI’s get in the way of your KRA’s. Ensure they help you achieve what you need rather than just be there so you can say you’ve been efficient. Efficiency doesn’t always equal effectiveness.

You may find you become more creative and innovative by aiming for your fewer Key Result Areas than for your greater Key Performance Indices.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

The 10 Most Common Mistakes Sales People Make

Falling on a banana skinWhen discussions move round to the subject of sales, conversations often get quite negative. The profession has, in many circles, a bad reputation and it’s obvious to many that the salespeople they have been dealing with have difficulties in emotional intelligence so they can’t see when they are being unprofessional and unlikely to get the sale.

A little like the stereotypical Brit on holiday…when they aren’t being understood by a foreign-speaking person, they tend to speak slower and speak louder! This is mirrored in selling by the salesperson repeating what they have already said and then blaming the prospect if they don’t actually get the sale!

There are, naturally, many mistakes salespeople make in trying to sell their products and services. Here are my top ten:

1. Thinking they need to sell! What? Yes, it’s true! If your products and services are good enough, you don’t need to sell it. You just have to make it easy for the customer to buy!

2. Bad prospecting techniques. Simply looking at the prospect’s website and finding out who the buyer is, is not prospecting. It’s shallow and is exactly what your competition does. Please dig deeper, come up with specific reasons why the prospect should meet you, talk to you, buy from you, use you and remain loyal to you. That’s the minimum amount of prospecting you should be doing

3. Prejudging what the prospect will do. This entails everything from thinking you know what the prospect will decide, to saying to your boss what a jerk they were for not signing the order

4. Poor listening. Probably the biggest learning point for all salespeople. Poor listening equates to not really caring about them or their business and certainly doesn’t earn any respect or give them reasons to build confidence in you

5. Too much pressure. Yes, you’ve got targets to meet, but reverting to the old-style ‘buy-today-or-the-price-will-be-adjusted-to-match-my-desperation-to-get-a-sale’ tactic will be often met with a snort of derision and a swift decision to buy elsewhere, thank you very much!

6. Talking too much. By this, I mean about your product and your services. If you do talk, it should be about their needs and wants, with little allusion to your products until they become the necessary talking points

7. Reverting to closing tactics. This is the one that most buyers tell me really turn them off. They’ve experienced all the closing techniques many times, so don’t use them. Instead, create reasons why they should buy and help them decide. You will be happier and so will the prospect

8. Lack of sincerity. This will shine through very brightly, especially if you resort to ‘tricks’ that are easily seen through. Being sincere, honest and truthful will pay off many more times than not

9. Poor attitude. This, like lack of sincerity, will shine through every pore. If you don’t like your job, people will sniff this out and be affected, even at the subconscious level. The attitude should be one of helpfulness, curiosity and vision. These three will help you get the right answer o your prospect’s situation and problems

10. Lack of personal development. By not taking your development seriously, you’re being left behind by those who do. This is the career you’ve chosen for yourself, so why not take time to learn new ideas, research good stuff from those who know and keep up-to-date on your customer’s industry. It’s the least you can do to earn respect from your customers and prospects

Do you have some more ideas of the big mistakes salespeople make? I’d love to hear some more.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)

Be A First Rate Version Of Yourself, Not A Second Rate Version Of Someone Else

1st placeI remember years ago being on a training course where we were learning coaching skills. The facilitator was coaching someone to use a golf putter when they had never played golf in their life. It was fun to watch this person try to hit a golf ball a few yards across the room into a cup laying on its side.

The person tried a few times, and with the coach’s help, eventually managed to get the ball into the cup, to cheers and applause from everyone around. The smile on his face showed he was proud of his accomplishment, even though a little embarrassed by the attention.

The discussions centered around how we could improve as individuals and one person said that if we modelled someone like Tiger Woods (who was number one at the time), we would eventually be as good as him.

The facilitator then said that even if we did model ourselves on Tiger, would we ever be as good as him? Our conclusion was that, as Tiger had been hitting golf balls since he was 3 years old, we probably wouldn’t ever be as good as him. Then the facilitator said something that I wrote down and have had in my learning journal ever since.

He said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, rather than a second-rate version of someone else”.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that we as humans tend to compare ourselves against others’ accomplishments and feel that we have to in some way ‘compete’ with them in order to be a ‘good’ person. The winner is honoured, the losers forgotten. (Do you remember who came second and third to Usain Bolt in 100 metres at the London Olympics?).

But that quote from the facilitator on that day brought it home to me that, actually, we would probably always lose if we were trying to copy someone else. In sales, this would include trying to use the script of someone else to sell our products, or copying a successful person’s characteristics when with a client. What could be the possible outcome?

Well, we might try to be as assertive as another person, so we can come across as being confident and assured. Unfortunately, if we move outside our comfort zone without a support mechanism behind us, we naturally fall back into that zone, as we feel safe there.

It’s far better to take our own skills, talents and attributes and try to improve those, instead of looking at what someone else does and trying to emulate or live up to their standards. You are not them. You don’t have their thought patterns or abilities. You don’t have their mindset.

By all means take note of how successful people have achieved that success. But make them applicable to your own persona, build confidence from building your own foundations and create situations where you have the natural ability to improve, rather than thinking you must try to be like someone else.

That first rate version of you will always make you feel better than the second rate version of someone else.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Stuart Miles at

An Impressive Way To Stand Out From Your Competition

standing outI watched the First Night of the Proms at the weekend (well, there is a little time left in my life for culture!) and, as usual, the co-ordination and cohesion between all the players in the orchestra was magnificent. The harmonies majestically played underneath the main themes and everyone was beautifully controlled by the conductor.

It set me thinking about how interdependent each person was on getting their job completely right. One duff note by one person would have been noticed by everyone, one instrument out of tune would have ruined the whole experience for orchestra and audience alike.

This is also true in businesses that serve customers. The interdependence of each department getting their processes correct is vital as they produce the items that each customer requires. For example, what happens in a business when production problems happen and delays to deliveries affect the shipping department?

Production schedules have to be altered, customer services get calls from unhappy customers, targets start to be missed, loyalty becomes harder to establish, salespeople become disgruntled, market share starts to slip away, morale drops and profits may fall.

Yes, it’s only one part of the whole process, but it affects everyone down the line. This is because of the interdependency of one section of the business on another and another and another.

Think about this in terms of your customers. They will be interdependent on each other for the success of their business, and you, as salesperson, can determine the best way to present solutions by understanding the pains that each department may be facing and how they could affect other departments.

For example, if you were to know the contributing reasons for their problems and the impact those problems might be having on other parts of the process chain, you could link your solutions with those pains and problems, hence identifying how you could alleviate them for the decision-makers.

Knowing this information differentiates you from your competition, as buyers are impressed by the fact that you know their business better than the competition does.

To do this, you need to know what challenges each person in the buying chain is experiencing and how it affects others.

For example, you may have found out the following during your research:

The finance department are experiencing falling profits, caused by missing targets, increased costs and bad debts; the sales team are missing targets because not enough hunting is going on in the market place, the increasing overheads, the bad debts and poor number of new customers; the sales manager recognises the current system doesn’t give him enough information to meet the needs of the sales team, so the team don’t have the opportunities made clear to them where the new business should be coming from.

Now, imagine if you went into a sales meeting with the decision-makers and you presented your findings based on your research that hits their pains exactly? Not only that, you show you understand the reasons for the pain and how they impact the other departments when they are out of harmony.

If you can trace the challenges that occur throughout the organisation, i.e. the impact each situation that one department faces has on another, you will see very often that the pain gets more intense and the disharmony accentuates itself.

Sometimes the correlation is exact, like when poor production scheduling affects delivery dates, which affects customer’s customers, which affects loyalty, which affects further sales, etc, etc.

Sometimes it isn’t that exact, so we may have to do some connections with the client to determine the impacts of the various challenges being faced.

This can differentiate you from the competition, as it concentrates on their business issues rather than the products and services that the competitor’s salespeople may try to put at the forefront. You don’t talk about solutions at this point; you convince the buyers and other decision-makers that you, through a complete understanding of what is happening in their business, are the person to trust and confide in when they DO need to talk about solutions.

Think of the harmony that your prospect’s business has to work at. If there are some disharmonies occurring, show your ability to identify where they are occurring, their effects on others and the results of not changing the status quo. They will think of you as being the conductor of affairs and follow your lead as you progress towards solutions that your company can help them with.

They will also see the progress to their business as you deal with the challenges and improve your value over and above your competitors.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

Buyers Want Appreciating Assets, So Turn Yourself Into One

increasedWhen an asset such as stock, property or personal property increases in value without any improvements or modification being made to it, it’s called appreciation.

Certain things have the potential to appreciate, and it all depends on a number of issues, including uniqueness or increased demand.

If a business can have assets that appreciate for them, there’s a fine chance that they will value these assets highest within the business.

Imagine if you owned something that was appreciating in value all the time. How would you view it?

You would take care of it, see it as precious and use it with care.

Imagine if you proved yourself an appreciating asset to your customer. How would they view you? Exactly the same!

As we said, an appreciating asset increases in value as time goes by. For you to become valuable to your client, this will require you to show how you can add value to them and their business as the relationship builds.

Ways you can do this include:

  • Showing how other successful companies have positively used your products and services to achieve the same and better results as you’re suggesting this client could achieve
  • Identifying how a consultative approach to your client’s business could improve how they approach their own business strategies
  • Becoming a strategic influence with the decision-maker
  • Identifying how the users of your products and services could improve their working lives by increased efficiencies
  • Sharing LinkedIn stories or articles that are of interest to your client and their business
  • Offering trips to your production facilities
  • Holding buyer forums and discussion sessions to talk about improvements of usage of your products
  • Being the ‘go-to’ person whenever challenges with your products occur
  • Using your business Twitter and Facebook accounts to keep up-to-date with how your clients’ business are going and how they can improve
  • Describing how new improvements to your products could affect and improve the way their company works and the results they achieve
  • Acting as a business consultant to assist in their strategic decisions
  • Being part of their decision-making team when the time comes to improve selection
  • Helping them with competitive offers by offering advice and suggestions to consider, especially if competitive pricing is causing them to ask questions
  • Showing your availability when they need help and assistance
  • Generating recommending improvements to how their business can be run, not necessarily by using your products

If you are able to help your client’s business grow, expand and improve, they are likely to see you as having the ability to be a real asset to their company, in the long-term.

They would then take care of you, see you as precious and use you with care. And what an asset you would prove to be then!

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

learnIn sales, a lot can depend on the outcome and results of our efforts. If we succeed or progress with the sale, we tend to increase our motivation, improve our self-esteem and build our credibility. If we lose a sale or don’t progress, it tends to have the opposite effect.

Much of our motivation is dependent upon extrinsic or external events; those things that we often don’t have control over.  The increase in control that intrinsic or internal motivation gives us can help us improve our self-worth and esteem.

The title of John Maxwell’s book ‘Sometimes you win, Sometimes you learn’ has always intrigued me. Often, we have our moods and emotions affected by the results we achieve…if we win, we feel good, if we don’t succeed, we feel down and unable to lift ourselves.

Much of this has to do with the way we focus our attention. When we concentrate on what we are gaining, our emotions are affected in a positive sense, which drives us forward as we are focussing on what we can achieve. Our viewpoint is positive; it feeds our positive emotions and makes us feel good about ourselves. This drives us to perform better as we like the results we are achieving and aids us to find creative ways to improve our activities. We feel that we are ‘winning’

If we are not succeeding (in whatever way we use to judge that success), it tends to make us feel more negative because of how we focus on those results. They make us feel that we are not as good as we could be and this has a detrimental effect on the way we view ourselves. We feel that we are ‘losing’.

How can we change the impact that not succeeding has on our performance?

Well, instead of thinking of ourselves as ‘losing’ by not succeeding, a swift change in the way we view the situation can have a dramatic effect on the performance we create. Instead of thinking about what we have lost, how about thinking ‘what can I learn from this?

It may sound like simple semantics, but it actually makes a huge difference in the way we feel about ourselves.

When we tell ourselves we have lost something, we focus on the pain and on the past that got us here. We think about things we could have, should have and ought to have done, and often chastise ourselves for not doing them. We often feel bad about what we could have achieved and so can’t concentrate on improvements that need to be made.

Instead, when we tell ourselves that we could learn something from this, it triggers a different mindset. To learn something, we have to concentrate on the lessons gained and the future changes we could make to improve. Learning means identifying the changes that will make a difference for us and our prospects. Those changes will help us achieve different results, as we now concentrate on the future, rather than the past.

From now on, think about how you can learn from your experiences, good or bad. By learning, you build your self-esteem and self-worth and this increases your confidence. That confidence could prove to be decisive in your future success.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at

The Distance Between Good and Excellent May Be Shorter Than You Think

good better best - stuart milesWe see many salespeople through our sales workshops, our consultancies and coaching programmes and through our one-to-one sessions by phone or email. The variety of viewpoints and ideas are never-ending and our trainers always find it interesting to determine how their careers will progress as time goes on.

One of our trainers was having a discussion with one salesperson during an activity in a workshop where they were determining what ‘excellence’ in the role actually looked like. We enjoy talking about excellence as a standard, as it is always something we like to aspire to.

The salesperson said something interesting during the discussions. He said that sometimes he feels that he has done his best but his manager is always asking for more. The boss feels that the salesperson has loads more potential but he (the salesperson) feels he is doing well enough at his current performance level.

It got me thinking about this concept of ‘excellence’. It sometimes appears that the real problem is that we accept a level of performance that others consider to be ‘good’ and think that is acceptable. If we have that mindset, we create fake ceilings for ourselves. These ceilings act as a barrier to higher levels of performance, both now and in the future.

In other words, it appears that ‘good’ is the enemy of ‘excellent’.

If that’s the case, we stand the chance of being infected by the ‘good’ bug. This makes us feel content with doing just adequate work, because it looks ok. We don’t do what will actually make us look outstanding because the client, the stakeholder, the boss, the prospect or whoever will accept the standard of work we have produced.

The challenge is that we become blasé about our performance when we have this mindset. It means we cut-off from seeing opportunities for improvement because we think what we’ve done is ‘good enough’. I remember someone saying once ‘good enough, isn’t!’

Think about that for a moment!

If we are really serious about winning new business, identifying what makes the difference between ‘good’ and ‘excellence’ should be high on our agenda. When you’ve completed some piece of work, look at it and ask yourself is it just ‘good enough’ or is there something extra you could do that would place it in the ‘excellent’ mould?

Imagine looking back on your working day and asking yourself, ‘Is there anything I could have done that would have produced a better result today?” If there was, identify what that ‘something’ might have been and vow to improve it by 1% next time. Those one-percent-ers will soon add up and provide a solid route on the journey to excellence. Doing excellent work isn’t something that should happen just once or twice…it should become a habit of yours so you stop accepting ‘good’ as acceptable, and start thinking how it can be the new ‘normal’ in your life.

Excellence is an attitude and has nothing to do with competence or ability. The mindset of excellence will take you further than you will ever imagine in your career. Adopt that mindset now and see what impact it has on your results.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.Net)

10 Lessons a Great Salesperson Can Learn From Einstein

It’s been long-established that humans learn from modelling the success or failures of others, and there can be no better model in terms of 20th century advancement than Albert Einstein. 

Paulo Coelho is one of my favourite writers, and he came up with ten quotes that Einstein made that can be also applied in the sales world. Take a look at these ten, and my take on their application to sales:

1: Cultivate a Curious Mind

Einstein stated, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Curiosity is one of the main attributes that makes a great salesperson. They use this to develop a questioning mind as to why customers require certain services or ask certain questions. Become passionately curious about how to improve skills and knowledge. This will help build your confidence and create an inquisitive mind

2: The Worth of Perseverance is Intangible

“It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” If you give up after one or two efforts at contacting a customer, you lose the chance of creating a new contact. Persevere with your efforts by learning what works and what doesn’t work for you in prospecting your market.

3: Devote Attention To One Thing At A Time

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” Instead of trying to multi-task, which inevitably decreases the concentration on the specific tasks at hand, Einstein suggests that focus on one thing at a time brings better results. This can be applied in aspects of your sales techniques.

4: Imagination is Better than Knowledge

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.” By using the imagination, you can build awareness of how things will be for the prospect when they start using your products and services.

5: Mistakes Are Inevitable

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” You can discover more by learning from mistakes than by trying to be perfect at everything. You only fail if you don’t try anything different after you have fallen short. It eradicates the blame-game and helps you achieve a higher performance level because you are building on what you know and can develop knowledge and attributes that way.

6: The Future is Not Ours to See

“I never think of the future – it comes soon enough.” The future is a result of the things we do today. By committing to excellence in all you do now, you allow the future to be something you look forward to, not worry about. Control those things you can, and don’t spend time analysing those things you can’t.

7: Value is Superior to Success

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Creating value has an enduring effect for people to remember. They will always remember the way you made them feel they they used your services and products. Success comes as a result of the value you offer.

8: Change Triggers Another Result

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’. If you are not getting the results that you are seeking, then it’s obvious you need to change the way those things are done. The only way you will get different results is identifying what you did and doing something different, instead of more of the same and expecting a different result. The Law of Consequences simply won’t allow it.

9: Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience

Just because you have lots of experience, it doesn’t give you wisdom. Wisdom comes from application of the knowledge you obtain through experience. Learn the lessons that life throws at you in sales, and you have opportunities opening up in front of you.

10: Understand the Basics

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” So many salespeople I see think they are more advanced in their knowledge than they really are. Unfortunately, if they don’t get the basics right, they will never progress. The basics are the foundations on which to build. When you practice the basics often enough, you do them subconsciously, and that’s the key to improvement.

Those are just ten of Einstein’s ideas, out of the tens of thousands he developed during his lifetime. If you can develop an awareness of what they mean for you, there is no doubt that this mindset will create an ability in you that you never thought was there.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by MR LIGHTMAN at FreeDigitalPhotos.Net)