Weekly sales call reports
How they hide more than they show and what could be better
Sales call reports, whether daily sales reports or weekly or monthly have always been on top of the pet hate list of salesmen.
Anyone starting a sales career quickly learns about the requirement of the sales report, but he is rarely convinced of the need for one. Funnily, as the sales executive progresses in his career becomes a manager and acquires a team, he starts demanding a report from his team on a regular basis!
There are two reasons sales call reports help the manager.
- It helps her keep control- the efficiency factor- on the number of calls for example that an executive is on everyday. It helps her benchmark, understand operational issues in territories.
- The focus and the effectiveness: in the drive to ensure you are logging “minimum number of calls” per day, are you making sure the calls are productive? Are you making too many “relationship calls”? Do your sales calls have a proper agenda and importantly, the required preparation? Which of your running “deals” have seen no visits? Which task was closed without a visit?
Unfortunately, as a long suffering sales manager, I have never managed to get daily or weekly sales call reports the way I want and when I want them. Even if it establishes some control initially, most salespeople know how to inundate their boss in garbage. So, the bad news will always be buried in the deep end. Also it is humanly impossible to sift through time and date data related to visits- nor possible to correlate them with tasks and deals records.
As for effectiveness, unless you have historical data and able to run analytics, you will not go far. Deep dive does not work- and as for second tier managers being able to zoom in and find potential trouble-spots, just forget it!
What about the Sales executive, though?
The executive sees very little gain from sales call reports. He needs to set aside time for his reporting every day or every week. Now, as he does that, he needs to remember the salient details of conversations and actionable insights and put it all down. This on top of remembering meetings logistics- venue and timing.
It is clear that we need to make it worth his while. So, if we can facilitate taking meetings notes as and when he is in the meeting and also tag that with the contact, account, deal or task that the visit related to- it addresses him having to remember the details later.
Now, all he needs to do is flesh out the details of the conversation later on, if warranted. He can do that later- and he will have skeletal points taken during the meeting anyway to help him.
The benefit is the report is virtually real-time and it is constantly being updated. And we know which deals are being worked on. We also know the actionable items in the call immediately.
So, what could be better with sales call reports?
Firstly, we are not a great fan of sales reports that are static. We prefer reports that have multiple dimensions yet easy to dive into and decipher. To be useful, sales call reports must serve to perform both roles.
- They must provide the manager immediate feedback regarding work being done at ground level.
- They must also help the manager understand the focus and impact of the sales calls.
We see the sales executives benefiting the most. They will log visits and jot down meeting notes; if the daily or weekly sales call reports are generated automatically out of that. Of course these reports are not static and are update-able. But, that should be welcome. Both managers and executives should welcome the ability to tag a call with a sales opportunity or a pending task so they do not have to create a parallel report on what physical action is happening on the sales opportunities.
Behavior change will be needed. When sales managers manage through the CRM then the executives will work better on their CRM as well. But, obviously the right reports need to be generated and enough insights must be available for making it happen.
It will be mobile first in implementation
The data for generating the sales call reports need to come from the field, as the meeting is happening. So notes need to be logged and updated on the mobile. There in lies the potential for greatest productivity improvement.
So we are moving towards reports which are live, always updated and actionable. You can format them in weekly or daily or monthly formats. But the benefits are now in how both the managers and executives can base their judgement and action on the reports.