In February of this year, The Bridge Group, author of The Sales Development Playbook released the 2021 Sales Development Report. An entire section was dedicated to the main Sales Development Representatives KPIs by organizations of all sizes. These companies are analyzing the success at the Sales Development Representative level. As one would expect, the metrics discussed included items like:
- Activities per Day
– Phone, Email, LinkedIn, Other
- Quality Conversations per Day
– One piece of qualifying/disqualifying information is learned
- Attempts in a Cadence
- Quotas and Attainment
Earlier this year, Sally Duby, Chief Sales Officer at The Bridge Group joined us on the ABSTRAKT Podkast. One of the highlights from the podcast was the discussion around the challenges being faced by their clients when remotely trying to onboard Sales Development Representatives while using KPIs such as the ones identified above.
X + X x X
Traditionally, Sales Leaders are taught that success in sales is largely a math equation. X number of accounts and x number of activities into those accounts will equal x meetings. Ultimately x meetings will result into x qualified opportunities. This is largely because up until the introduction of ABSTRAKT, that is all that sales leaders have been able to measure and manage at the Sales Development Representative level.
While we built our Conversational Intelligence Software (ABSTRAKT), we interviewed hundreds of sales leaders, all of whom were using Reactive Conversational Intelligence tools to try and find other KPIs to gauge success or failure. They had SDRs who they had a good “gut feeling” about, but the quota attainment wasn’t there. When our product team would ask them why they had a good feeling about them, they would respond in one of two ways:
- They seem to handle objections reasonable well
- The meetings they do set, convert into Qualified opportunities at an above-average rate
Leading Indicators of Success
Sales Development Leaders were looking at traditional Conversational Intelligence software tools to help them identify the things the numbers were not telling them with the goal of separating out the lagging indicator of success (quota attainment) from the traditional leading indicators of success (activity). The problem was, nothing existed on the market to help Sales Leaders identify the following behaviors:
- What percentage of the following behaviors were happening on every call
a. Correct call opening
b. Delivery of relevant customer stories
c. Qualifying questions being asked
d. Soft Close attempt
e. Clear next step and follow up
2. What objections were being faced, and more importantly how were they being handled?
The key word to focus on here is “behavior”. Human beings, especially Sales Development Representatives under stress, are imperfect. The truth is, human behavior is largely hard to predict and is definitely not perfect, and therefore extremely difficult to quantify. What if we have been using Conversational Intelligence Software to focus on the wrong metrics only because, up until now, we haven’t been able to measure or manage anything else?
Performance Improvement Plans when Important Metrics are Met
Would you still put a Sales Development Representative on a Performance Improvement Plan if you knew that they consistently handled objections correctly, 90% of the time were able to get past the gatekeeper and consistently asked 80% of the qualifying questions they were supposed to? Here at ABSTRAKT, we are going to propose that you wouldn’t because the building blocks of success are there. Focusing solely on the lagging indicator of success (quota attainment) provides a very restricted view of success.
In the same report referenced above, 68% of Sales Development Representatives are hitting quota across companies of all sizes and verticals. This number has largely stayed the same year over year.
The Definition of Insanity
As Albert Einstein famously quoted “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”. Is it not time to rethink and re-evaluate the technology being deployed by organizations that lead to a D+ grade of their team? Would we be ok with a Heart Surgeon failing 68% of the time? What about a Structural Engineer whose buildings collapse 68% of the time? No. Then why would we be ok with a role that is consistently responsible for, on average, $3 million in pipeline a year?
KPIs Sales Leaders Should Consider
Here at ABSTRAKT, we want to propose a few new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that Sales Leaders should be looking at when trying to understand long term success performance potential:
- Framework Completion Percentage
a. For organizations that have the desired call structure they want reps to follow, what percentage of that structure is being adhered to?
i. *For those of you who don’t know what a Framework is, it’s the word we chose to replace the dirty 6-letter word for “script”.
2. Objection Handling Response Success
a. Playbooks, battlecards… Your organization likely has them laid out in tools like Google Drive, Seismic, Highspot, Mindtickle… How often are those used?
Challenging Traditional Thought Processes
We would like to begin to challenge the traditional thought process around how to measure Sales Development Representatives KPIs. It’s not the Sales Reps’ fault that their technology has not been able to provide a clear picture into their behaviors. Sales Leaders don’t have time to listen to call recordings, monitor trackers or read transcripts. They end up assuming that their reps are failing. Instead of trying to measure the same KPIs, and be ok with a failing grade, take a look at ABSTRAKT and give yourself the missing link between activity and success.
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