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Why Most Sales Productivity Metrics Are Faulty

Many B2B sales teams have a laser-like focus on improving productivity metrics. They have the idea that if they can just improve their revenue — or even better yet, their profitability — per salesperson, they will maximize their profits.

And so they set out on a quest to improve their efficiency and their effectiveness.

While this approach seems like common sense, it can lead organizations to miss out on their biggest opportunities.

The best way to explain this idea might be with a story from the pages of history. In 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold in California. Within a year, hundreds of thousands of “49ers” had flooded the state. At first, most of them used small pans to sift through the sand and pebbles at the bottom of streams and find the heavy bits of gold that would sink to the bottom as the water and silt swirled around in the pan.

Panning for gold was slow, tedious work. It didn’t take too long before many miners began improving their effectiveness by investing in sluice boxes. These “rocker boxes” were a much better approach to mining and resulted in more finds for their owners.

The success of the sluice boxes brought a desire for greater efficiency. People built larger and larger boxes that could process more and more silt. Some even diverted streambeds to better process the material and generate more and more gold. People were pulling chunks of gold as big as several centimeters out of the streams. Life seemed good.

But what those prospectors didn’t realize was that they were missing out on the Mother Lode.

You see, the Mother Lode is an actual place. It’s a vein of gold ore in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that’s 120 miles long and between one and three miles wide.

All those tiny pieces of gold that miners were pulling out the streams were just flecks that had washed away from the mother lode. Those first miners were working themselves to death — and sometimes killing each other — over specks of gold dust. But just a few miles away literally tons of gold were hidden in the hard quartz of the mountains.

It took a few years, but in the 1850s, some of the miners finally realized what they had been missing — the vein of ore that was the “mother” of the gold they had been finding with their pans. And that’s why we still use the term “mother lode” to this day.

The point, as I am sure you have realized, is that improving the efficiency or even the effectiveness of your sales operation isn’t going to allow you to tap the true riches of the market if you’re not “digging” — or selling — in the right place.

Technology has improved radically since the 1850s. Today, mining companies have satellite imaging and ground radar and X-ray technologies that can help them spot the mother lodes. And in the same way, analytics technology has improved to the point where it can help B2B companies spot the opportunities they are missing.

If you aren’t sure how this technology works, check out our webinar on Whitespace Analytics. It explains a tried-and-true process for using data and analytics to see the potential sales that you have been missing.

After that, you should also watch Predictive Sales Analytics and Leading Edge Account and Territory Planning.

Improving your sales metrics is a good goal. And yes, you should try to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales operation. But sometimes, it’s even more important to make sure that you are mining the mother lode.

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