KPIs – Not Touchdowns

With the first week of the NFL in the books I was reminded of one of my favorite sales team motivational analogies. I don’t claim to be an NFL coach and I certainly don’t have much experience in playing football but I do know a few things about coaching.


For example, when I would coach youth soccer I would always create an expectation that our team would measure the success of our game (offense) based on the total number of shots that were taken during the game. I would often set the goal at either 20 or 30 shots. I did this because if I focused on goals then my players would seem to wait until it was the perfect moment to take a shot, in hopes of making a goal. But then I explained some simple math to them; if you only take 3 shots, you can’t make 4 goals. And if you take 4 shots you can’t make 5 goals. But if you take 30 shots you can make 30 goals but you’re more likely to only make 4 or 5.  This logic comes from a motivational poster I once saw that said “no shots, no goals” and I’ve extrapolated the moment to fit the needs of a youth soccer coach. Try it, it works – but you have to yell and scream and high-five and keep track of them outloud and CELEBRATE the heck out of shots, not goals and the players will follow your lead. And they’ll start taking shots from further away, which is nice, because those go in too.


Back to football. I’m pretty sure that the great football coaches didn’t become great by constantly telling the players how many points were needed to win the game. For some reason that type of motivation doesn’t work on humans – focusing on the goal: “Get 5 touchdowns and we’ll win, everybody focus now, 5 touchdowns.” And if it were this easy then who wouldn’t use this type of motivation – describe the finish line and constantly emphasize its importance.


But all too often this is what we do with our sales reps; “be up 4% for this bonus” or “grow your sales on brandX by 250 cases.” These measures describe the finish line, the touchdowns, the total points necessary to win the game. And maybe your quarterback (Sales Manager) understands AND has the skill and will to make this happen but your sales reps and DMs don’t.


In football they focus on micro-goals or maybe what we might call KPI, key performance indicators. These KPIs don’t necessarily mean that the team will win the game but under most circumstances they, the KPIs, if achieved, will put the team in a position to mostly win games.


Some common KPIs that you might hear about on Sunday Night Football would be;

  • 3rd down conversions
  • Yard-after-the-catch
  • Passing/Run mix
  • Time of Possession
  • # of 1st downs
  • Success in the red zone
  • Hurries, sacks, and tackles


By breaking down the KPIs of a good football team and setting micro-goals now every player can focus on how they can specifically impact the game with their own accountabilities. And the same goes for selling beer on a sales team. So here are some KPIs for winning in the trade and the good news is that these are “controllables” that every distributor sales rep has the power to impact and understand at their level;


  • Chain ad DSOF at 12 noon on ad break day
  • Chain ad DSOF at EOD on ad break day
  • Chain ad DSOF at 12 noon on ad break day 2
  • Avg Display Size
  • # of displays per channel
  • Cases on Display vs. PW or PY
  • # of brand promotions on-premise
  • Net new tap handles per supplier per month
  • Net new facings per route per month
  • Percentage of authorized packages on shelf
  • Accounts with Primary POS in the #1 position
  • Reset presentations per month (shots, not goals)


By breaking down these types of KPIs into controllable metrics that every team member can understand they are no longer focused on the finish line but rather the next mile marker.


You may be saying: “These appear to be some good KPIs but they are really really hard to track across an entire market without crippling our selling time per account.”  If that’s the case then call me at 916-220-9193. You need to see what iSellBeer™ can do for your sales team. Our app is the ONLY app in the industry to track over 100,000,000 cases on display at retail and we are passionately focused on EXECUTION metrics that drive the business forward. We speak “sales rep” and we’re happy to let your sales reps be the judge of that!


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