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Message to Account Based Selling Teams—Your KPIs Are Messed Up

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Are you Stephanie?

“I came across No More Cold Calling while looking for resources for our next blog and I knew I had to reach out immediately, kudos on a fantastic blog. My name is Stephanie, I’m on an account based selling team, and I’m reaching out on behalf of a growing startup. This month, we’re looking to secure sponsorship placements with five prominent blogs and No More Cold Calling jumped straight to the top of our list. Please let me know if this is something you’re interested in discussing further.”

Six days later

“I reached out last week but haven’t heard back. I wanted to see if there was an opportunity to sponsor a post on No More Cold Calling. Please see my initial email below.”

Six days later    

“I reached out last week but haven’t heard back so I wanted to try one last time. Is there an opportunity to sponsor a post on No More Cold Calling?”

If you get endless emails like this, you know “one last time” is rarely actually the last time. Six days later, I received this: “I reached out last week, and I haven’t heard back. I wanted to see if we could post on No More Cold Calling.” Another six days passed, and … “I’m trying one last time. Is there an opportunity to contribute to No More Cold Calling?”

What’s even more ludicrous is that she never reveals the name of the start-up. I probably could have figured that out if she hadn’t sent the email from her Gmail account.

Give it a rest, Stephanie. I don’t respond to cold calls or cold emails, and neither do any of the decision-makers that account based selling teams want to reach. 

Are You Leading a Team of Stephanies?

This is only one example of the stupid emails I receive and immediately relegate to junk. I’m highlighting this email thread because I know why Stephanie is sending these emails. She and other account based sales development reps are measured on the quantity of emails sent, not the quality of their leads.

Her KPIs, like the KPIs of most account based selling teams, are messed up. And that’s a problem, because behavior follows metrics. Simply put: If you measure cold calls made, instead of hot leads brought in, you end up with a team of Stephanies—account based sales reps who spend their time annoying people who don’t want to do business with your company (and, in this case, don’t even know the name of your company).

Sure, revenue is the goal in sales. Beating our numbers is salespeople’s passion, and getting to Club is our reward. But revenue is a lagging indicator. You can measure revenue, but you can’t manage it. However, you can measure and manage the key sales activities that account based selling teams use to drive revenue.

The Sales Metrics That Matter

Setting the right KPIs is your biggest competitive differentiator, because it determines how your team generates leads. Measure the right sales activities, manage to those activities, and coach your account based selling team on the behaviors that turn those activities into revenue.

Sales execs know the metrics for cold calling are dismal, so they regularly ask me about referral metrics—not just because they’re curious, but because many don’t believe that referrals can be measured. Wrong!

The #1 referral activity that matters is the number of people each account based selling rep asks. It may seem obvious, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Reps must adopt a regular cadence of asking for referrals, which means there must be built-in accountability for results. If your reps wait until the end of the month and realize they didn’t prioritize asking for referrals, then they’ve missed important opportunities to generate new business. And they’ll just keep missing those opportunities if you don’t have referral metrics in place.

KPIs for Referrals

Measuring referral activities is simple. Weekly metrics for each account based selling rep roll up into monthly and quarterly metrics. Measure the number of:

  • People asked each week (The minimum is one.)
  • Referrals received
  • Meetings scheduled
  • Meetings conducted
  • Deals closed through referrals

How do you determine your referral activity metrics?  You begin with the number of new clients you must bring in and then work backwards. For example, say your account based sales rep needs 10 new clients to reach quota. Here’s how the math works:

  • The rep asks 40 people for a referral introduction
  • 20 people say they’d like to help, but can’t think of anyone
  • 20 people introduce your rep to an ideal client (because that’s who the rep asked to meet)
  • Assuming a 50 percent conversion rate, the rep gets 10 new clients

By the way, 50 percent is conservative. Most salespeople say the conversion rate with referrals is more than 70 percent.

From Counting to Coaching

Once you’re measuring referral activities, coach your reps based on these activities. Keep them accountable and on track by asking specific questions, such as:

  • Who are the people you’ll ask for referrals? Take names (I do!)
  • What are the outcomes you expect? Establish metrics
  • What are your discussion topics? Get these in writing

Then, before your account based selling teams meet with their referred prospects, provide coaching tips and discuss the following:

  • What did you learn about the prospect from your referral source?
  • Have you checked out the prospect’s LinkedIn profile? What have you learned?
  • What are your other connections to this prospect?
  • What interests do you have in common?
  • How will you use this information in your meeting with the prospect?

Referral Math: Relationships Equal Revenue

When you measure and coach referral activities and behaviors, you don’t just meet your revenue goals. Your sales process shortens (time is money), your cost of sales decreases, and your competition disappears. Typically deal sizes are larger, and these clients willingly refer your team to their networks—which means your team can rock account based sales development without ever cold calling.

Revenue isn’t the only metric that matters. Set metrics around sales activities you can measure and manage. Then adjust your KPIs to match. Set revenue goals for each person. Your veterans expect their goals to increase year-over-year, so there should be no surprises. Now it’s time to set KPIs for activities and behaviors that drive revenue. The last thing you want is your account based selling teams engaging in mindless activity.

Planning your 2018 Sales Kickoff Meeting? Help your team prepare for their best sales year ever by inviting Joanne to speak at your event. Your team will learn how to generate leads via personal connections and referral introductions.

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