How technology drives goals and sales targets

We love doing things that we are comfortable with and that doesn't rock our comfort boats.Thats how we did it for years and achieved so why change? Well; when technology allows our competitors to steal our customers and beat us out the starting block, we should consider why its becoming more and more difficult to reach targets and keep up with industry trends. .


To see how the new science of goal setting works, consider how Cisco Systems uses technology to forecast sales. The company created a site where managers could log in and see up-to-the-minute sales performance—listed by region, product line, and so on—all the way down to the level of individual account executives. The site also contains data about reps’ pipelines, including the size of each opportunity, what kind of technology the customer requires, and who the competitors are. Managers hold regular pipeline calls and produce new forecasts derived from the data every week. They then roll up the numbers into weekly, monthly, and quarterly forecasts. “The forecast accuracy for our quarterly numbers tends to be within plus or minus 1% to 2%,” says Inder Sidhu, Cisco’s vice president for worldwide sales strategy and planning.

Like other best-practice companies, Cisco isn’t sitting still. Last year it provided its reps with state-of-the-art PDAs, and it’s building custom applications for the devices designed to boost productivity. One such program speeds up data entry; another lets reps check their customers’ recent activity (such as whether they have ordered parts or remitted an invoice). Cisco has also jump-started its reps’ motivation by developing an online personal compensation rate calculator. “People can actually go in and say, ‘OK, here’s where I’m at right now in the quarter,’ ” says Sidhu. “It tells them exactly what the deal will mean to them [financially].”

Two years ago, Aggreko North America, a division of UK-based equipment rental company Aggreko, adopted a scientific approach to goal setting with dramatic results: In 2005, sales rose by 29%, and sales force productivity rose by 90%. Company president George Walker says that the process begins from the top down. Executives gather regional data on critical industry-level drivers in each of the company’s vertical markets—oil refining, home construction, and so on—and then they calculate the firm’s share of each market to set goals for growth. Next comes the bottom-up element: Armed with the data, area sales managers develop a view of territories, accounts, and quotas for individual reps by multiplying potential market size by target shares for each market. An iterative process between the local reps and senior management ensures that the expectations for individual salespeople are in line with overall corporate objectives.


Isn't it time we looked out our industries and find tools that will increase productivity and drive sales?