Quiet Quitting in Sales? Not a Real Thing

Trend watchers and recent polling would have you believe that quiet quitting—a worker being completely disengaged from their job—comprises 50% of the workforce today. They’d also have you believe there are millions out there today who are deliberately underperforming at work and are just barely meeting their job description.

In sales, that’s not a real trend. Instead, it’s called not doing your job. Or being the wrong fit. And it’s always been dealt with swiftly: managers cut or reassign the underperformers. But how exactly should we be measuring performance in this line of work?

Sales is different from other professions. Too often, a seller is assumed to be performing well if they hit their numbers consistently. That’s it. Whereas in other professions, managers assess performance with a range of metrics based on how an employee spends their time or how well someone adheres to a company’s method or process. That distinction is sometimes lost on sales managers. And that’s where the trouble—and the belief in phoney trends—starts.

Don’t Confuse Activity with Productivity

Compare and contrast the experiences of two different managers. In the first example—one that works in agricultural supply sales—a top-ranked seller was denied their quarterly bonus because they hadn’t spent as much time doing face-to-face meetings as lower performing sellers had…even though the first seller outsold the other and was the only one on the team to exceed their goal. That manager was measuring performance all wrong.

In the second example, a Sales VP of a software company wisely understood that her top seller was consistently outperforming everyone else on the team because they didn’t follow the rules on conducting a full one-hour product demonstration with each new account. Instead, they closed far more business in half the amount of time allocated. That seller was instead rewarded for performing where it counted.

That’s why it’s so important for sales managers to remain focused on measuring what matters and not be distracted by trends (both real and imagined ones).

Stop Worrying About Quiet Quitting: 3 Strategies to Measure What Matters

1. Outputs Are the Solution

In sales, the best managers focus solely on outputs. They ask: how many sales did each seller close this week, this month, and this quarter? And is this number ahead or behind their goal? Inputs, or the amount of time devoted to closing each sale, are far less important. When you have a seller who is struggling to meet their quota, solving that problem must be based on activities linked to increasing productivity—not simply having a seller do more of an activity. That means focussing on coaching and examining which skill can be leveraged successfully and which needs to be improved.

2. Data Points the Right Way

I remind everyone that micromanaging is okay when it comes to your relationship with sales data. You must know where each of your sellers is at performance-wise on a weekly and monthly basis. As I cover in my latest book, Right on the Money, sales velocity hinges on a manager knowing four key numbers in a business’s operations: the number of opportunities in your sales pipeline, the average number of sales you make (or deal size), your closing ratio, and the average amount of time it takes to close each sale. Knowing how well a seller is performing in each of those metrics tells a manager if performance improvements are warranted and where to make them.

3. Emulate All Best Practices

Smart sales managers look to their top sellers and carefully analyze the business habits that are behind their consistent, high-performance sales records. Interview your best. Sit in on their sales calls. Compile a list of their winning techniques. And then train the rest of your sellers to follow in the sales leader’s footsteps. Look back at that second example I mentioned earlier. That Sales VP wisely adopted each one of the best practices of their top seller…and then taught them to the rest of the team. As a result, the entire team began to outperform.

So, stop worrying about quiet quitting in sales. Focus on performance and on continually attracting and retaining top sellers. When you measure what matters, you get the results you need. When you measure what doesn’t, you get nothing but disappointment and discord.

Connect with Colleen on LinkedIn about preventing quiet quitting.