Philie Group Blog

Clear Skies, Leading Indicators and Coaching to Success
By Mike Philie

This blog originally published in Printing Impressions


Having clear skies makes us feel safer when we travel in a plane. When the sky is cloudy, or stormy, we feel less safe when hurtling through the sky. How about your business, how much clarity do you have as you look out onto the horizon? What is important for you to know in making daily, weekly and long-term decisions about staffing, pricing, market direction, technology and capital expenditures? And, is your vision focused on the things that could be happening, or the things that have already happened?

Leading Indicators

There are leading indicators and lagging indicators in your sales process. Let’s go through some of them. An example of a lagging indicator are the sales that were entered today. While it is true, that the sale was booked today, the sale or decision to buy was made further upstream. You could argue that sales booked today is a leading indicator of what you will invoice for the month and will help to better understand your staffing needs. Then we can look at the estimate requests that we have, and that’s further upstream from sales too. But again, the decision to include you in the RFP was made upstream from the actual event and while estimates could be a leading indicator of future sales, it still is not enough. While both estimates and booked sales are important metrics, they are lagging indicators within the sales process. So, what’s a leading indicator look like?


A leading indicator for the sales process is one that shares insight into what might happen in the future, based on the work that was done to date. An example might be the positive information obtained during the discovery phase of your sales process. What did you learn or uncover that could lead you to think the sale is progressing and will ultimately lead to estimates and then to booked sales?

Monitor the Right Things

My experience shows that we aren’t paying enough attention to the upstream work being done in the sales process, and that most companies begin to “keep score” at the estimate stage. There is so much work being done before an estimate is ever thought of, and that is the vision that is often lacking. This can be applied to both new business development, as well as increasing revenue from existing clients.


Take a hard look at your current sales process and identify the stages that are meaningful to moving the customer’s buying decision forward. Find a way to capture that information, those meaningful conversations, that will provide the clarity in your selling efforts. Manage the information in your CRM, spreadsheet, or your mechanism of choice, and as a sales leader, use that information to coach your team to success. Good luck and remember, doing nothing is not an option!


Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at, LinkedIn or email at


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