Question: What Can You Do When Your Sales Numbers Suddenly Tank?
Our numbers are way down, and I’m not sure what to do. How can I, as a leader, make sure the company doesn’t fall apart?
Meet our Executive: Steven Libman, Managing Partner, Integrity Holdings Group
Forbes Business Council member Steven Libman is a managing partner of Integrity Holdings Group, a real estate investment firm that acquires value-add properties with a specific focus on multi-family and self-storage in the Southeastern and Midwestern US.
Answer: Evaluate KPIs Frequently and Make Needed Adjustments
We recently lost both (and the only) salespeople we had on staff at nearly the same time. As most business owners know, the pipeline is the lifeline, and a dismal fourth quarter nearly tanked us with hundreds of appointments attended with nearly no closings. One of our salespeople went on 104 appointments and closed 2 deals. Our closing percentage should be closer to 20-25%, and not closing those leads lit marketing dollars on fire, and stopped cashflow in its tracks. The business was in a tailspin just one quarter after one of our best quarters yet.
So who’s to blame? Me. Leaders know it is always on them. If I had done a better job tracking the weekly key performance indicators and holding people accountable for agreed-upon metrics, we could have caught the problem nearly 2 months earlier. Perhaps we could have coached them into success instead of having to let them go and putting the owner back into a sales role overnight. Our systems and management needed to be tightened up, and quickly.
We took action swiftly to refocus on KPI’s and keeping a watchful eye on the weekly metrics. We track these metrics and when something slips we jump in with our employees to see how we can help, whether it’s just a blip on the radar or a bigger issue, and coach and train them out of it. Multiple weeks of missed metrics escalate the situation to a probationary period with that employee.
In the book Dichotomy of Leadership, Jocko Willink shares a story about navy sailors who, after taking torpedo fire, would have to make the heartbreaking decision to close a hatch on the part of the ship taking on water, sometimes closing in their closest friends to save the rest of the ship. The decision is hard, but we must not let one person or a group of persons endanger the mission. The mission is bigger than one person, and it is our job as leaders to protect the mission and the employees that are doing a great job for us.