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The Most Powerful Way to Boost Sales Performance

Widely popular author and speaker Stephen Covey has said, “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” And of course, when he talks about “first things first,” Dr. Covey means that leaders should focus on the things that are most foundational, the most important to their mission.

We bet that if you put 100 sales managers and sales ops professionals in a room, they would all agree that this quote makes a lot of sense. But if you asked them how they planned to go about putting this idea into practice, you might get a lot of different answers. Some of them would chart out plans to improve close rates. Others might focus on margins or pricing. Maybe some would go after revenues, cycle times, or up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.

We’re also willing to bet that very few sales leaders would focus on the element that is the true “first thing” in the sales process.

You see, we think that when it comes to sales, there’s a case to be made that the most important “first thing” is actually the first thing that happens in the sales process chronologically. And that’s targeting.


If you improve your targeting, you’ll automatically improve all those other aspects of sales performance.

You probably know what your average close rates, cycle times, revenue per order and margins are. You also intuitively know that some types of opportunities are much better than average with higher close rates, shorter cycle times, and higher revenues and margins. Conversely, some of your other opportunities are much worse than average.

If you can rig the system so that you are getting more of those better opportunities and whole lot fewer (or maybe even none) of those rotten opportunities, what will happen to your averages? They’ll get better, right?

In fact, they’ll get a whole lot better. We have a webinar called How to Identify and Target Your Best Prospects that takes you through the math, but suffice it to say that you can improve many of these key metrics—all at once—by 20%, 50%, 75%, even 100% just by improving your targeting.

If you’ve been a subscriber for a while, you know that we like to think of the sales process as being similar to a factory. If you have better raw materials going into your factory, you’re going to have less waste and better outcomes at every step in the manufacturing process. And in the sales “factory,” your prospects are your raw materials. If you can get better prospects, everything else gets better too.

The obvious next question is how do I improve my targeting?

We’re glad you asked because we have some resources to help. In addition to the webinar mentioned above, we’d encourage you to check out the express guide Recognizing Seven Deadly Targeting Mistakes and the webinar How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel in Five Steps. Both get into the nuts and bolts of how to do targeting the right way and how it can improve other measures of performance.

By focusing on the true “first thing,” you can become much more effective and efficient as a sales leader or manager, and that just might make you the kind of highly successful person that would make Stephen Covey proud.

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