Sales executives and their managers go through the same dance at the end of every quarter. The manager aims high for a total that will capture the most sales possible, while the executive tries to lowball to reduce expectations and workload.
A new app called Bellum aimed to flip that process on its head by letting the executive set the sales target according to the amount they wanted to earn. “We’re reverse engineering a sales quota and giving directions on how to achieve it,” said Bellum CEO Alan Abraham, a former sales manager for several technologies companies including Dell Australia, Symantec and LanDesk.
The app begins with a sales person setting their total remuneration for the year, including bonuses, and breaks down the sales target into a minimum number of sales meetings each week based on their past performance.
“How much do you want to earn? That’s the carrot,” Abraham said.
(Bellum can automatically import this data from Salesforce.com. Integrations with other CRM programs such as SugarCRM are in the pipeline.)
If Bellum calculated that the annual target required 30 sales meetings a week that might not be achievable. Either the sales person was aiming too high or the conversion rate was too low, Abraham said. A sales manager could use the information to talk to the sales executive about improving close rates or finding a course for professional development.
The sales executive’s performance for the week, month and quarter was shown on a traffic-light dashboard (green was ‘on target’, yellow was ‘slightly behind’ and red was ‘likely to miss target’).
Bellum could also map the commission plan on a graph showing remuneration versus target attainment, with the company’s sales target, the sales executive’s desired goal and the actual performance for that period.
“Each salesperson already does these calculations to see how much they have to bring in to hit certain milestones” such as $200,000 in salary, Abraham said. “Instead of doing it on the back of a napkin, we record the plan and set up accountables. It becomes more collaborative conversation where the manager is helping the individual achieve his or her goals.”
A sales manager could see the performance of all the sales team on the one dashboard, compare performance of individual salespeople and show the reasoning behind the sales plan to the CFO. A sales manager could also customise the terminology according to the type of product sold. Coaching companies measured the number of interview questionnaires completed rather than meetings, and technology resellers measured profit and not revenue, for example.
Bellum provided transparency for the sales team and gave a sales manager better predictability of sales performance by preventing “lumpiness” in forecasts.
“Sales people work on emotion, they tell stories. CFOs work on numbers, they want to see the meat behind it,” Abraham said. “Everybody can look at the dashboard and know the direction of the company.”