Keeping Score: The Secret to Winning Sales

Like someone trying to run algorithms on an abacus, your salespeople may be trying to close sales without a sales process.

Are they too busy?  Are they bored?  Do they shut down when you talk about stalled, lost or no-decision deals?  As Ronald Reagan used to say: “Stay the course.

While sales leaders set the tone for an organization, sales managers leverage its training investment. Ask yourselves: Does everyone consistently speak the same sales language?  Do you regularly inspect the sales process, its applications, and its effectiveness? Or simply go through the motions? These actions represent best practices in firms that earn a good payback from their training investments.

One practice rises above others: Your ability to measure, to keep score of prospect data.

Because virtually all of today’s CRM systems integrate sales methodology with analytics and dashboards, there’s no reason not to keep score on your sales team. What’s more, good metrics enable you to coach salespeople and improve performance, whether on smaller deals or full-blown analyses on larger deals.

Miller Heiman Group’s Funnel ScoreCard® offers a light version of a more comprehensive methodology. Those familiar with Strategic Selling’s® Blue Sheet exercise know it can overkill for smaller deals.

The Funnel ScoreCard® (see visual below; excuse the blurred quality) is a way to quickly assess every opportunity in the sales funnel without overdoing it on process. Whether you use this or a similar type scorecard, keeping score of actions is an excellent way to raise consistency of process usage within the organization. Side note: The scorecard was born out of the McKesson case study.

Selling by the Numbers

To help account managers direct sales activities toward the highest potential opportunities, McKesson created a scorecard for managers to assign a “score” to each deal. As new information on the prospect is learned, score changes over time.

To move a deal forward, the sales rep must obtain the designated information about the prospect. If not, the deal stalls and the rep must walk away. The beauty of the scorecard is that it subjects every deal to ongoing evaluation, which deploys resources appropriately.

Twenty Questions

Of course, the ability of this process to function with predictably successful outcomes relies upon the integrity of the scorecard itself. The scorecard includes 20 customer/client attributes that McKesson linked to the increased likelihood of sales success.

As an example, in my own organization, attributes scoring high are 1) access to a champion or coach; 2) a former client, or 3) a process-driven business. Interestingly, if a company wishes to develop a sales matrix, but does not use a CRM system, that scores as a zero.

Attributes represent a wide range of information about the customer/client, including financial attractiveness, nature of buying process, and degree of alignment with McKesson’s strategy and capabilities. Each attribute is weighted according to its estimated effect on sales outcomes.

Experience of High Performers

When I consult with companies to help develop their own scorecards, I spearhead a discussion among the company’s top-performing salespeople to uncover attributes that commonly appear in successful deals. Sales leaders then vet the list to select the final set of attributes.

With this process, we map out deals won, deals lost and deals in the pipeline to learn what has been successful. It is gratifying to see the surprise looks on the salespeople’s faces as they self-discover the right attributes.

Continuous Learning

Compared to typical segmentation exercises, the Miller Heiman scorecard process does not assume you know relevant customer/client information at the outset. In fact, it assumes critical information is missing. Instead, the scorecard is intended to serve as a prompt for salespeople to collect the most important information to advance the process.

So, as the account manager learns more information about the prospect, the status of various attributes will move from “unknown” to either “yes” or “no.” Points are given only to “yes” attributes that are true for the prospect in question. Moreover, the sales can only move forward to bid or proposal stage when the number of points is sufficiently high.

If many attributes are still “unknown” then the account manager must work to find out whether the answer is “yes” or “no.” If many attributes are rated “no,” then the deal should be shelved or abandoned altogether. I see so many sales organizations fooling themselves over the likelihood that certain pipeline opportunities will materialize. This scoring process brings new understanding the probability of closing the deal.

Increasing Visibility and Focus

In those companies where I have implemented the scorecard, it has become the primary tool for focusing discussions between managers and their sales teams.

What a benefit. With a quick scan of the scorecards, you can make informed assessments of various opportunities in a salesperson’s pipeline. The manager gains immediate visibility on the likelihood of converting various deals; he or she can make intelligent judgments about which warrant additional resources. Imagine the potential savings in time, money and stress.

A hat tip to the late, great Arnold Palmer:

See you on the upside,


For more information, go to
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

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