The wrong metrics force bad behavior in salespeople

Metrics are used all over in sales organizations:

  • How many calls did you make?
  • How many connects did you make?
  • How many meetings did you schedule?

Metrics are how managers feel good about how people are doing – its how they can point to things and say, “look – my people are working.”  Often, tt is how managers and CEO’s can turn to their board and investors and say, “I have no idea how we didn’t make our numbers this month, we made 4,000 outbound calls!”

Its no secret that I’m not a fan of managing to certain metrics in a start-up like number of dials.  Yes – track them, but do not necessarily manage to them.  In a start-up or growth business, there is only one real metric that matters: quota.   The bottom line metric for any and all salespeople is their quota.  I don’t need busy salespeople who don’t close.    Ask yourself which salesperson you want on your team… the one that makes 5 calls a day and closes 5 big deals OR the one who makes his defined 60 calls a day – but only closes 2 deals.

Too many times, I see managers who focus on the wrong metrics and force behavior that ultimately leads to less (or worse) sales.  Especially in the start-up phase, you need those dials to be learning lessons so that you can get to the very repeatable sale.  Its certainly true that in a more established business with an established product that is well known by your prospects, you can draw a conclusion that x dials yields in $y in sales – but this is rarely true in a start-up and in fact leads your sales people to have the wrong behaviors.

In a start-up, you need to sell value to your prospect.   In order to sell value, you need to understand your prospect – their needs, their corporate goals, their issues, their problems.  This takes some research time.  If you expect your salesperson to make 60 calls a day, guess how much research is done prior to making that call on their list… NONE!  Oh maybe a real quick google search – but that is it.  Essentially, your salesperson will dial each person blind.  Therefore, most of those calls will be wasted.

There doesn’t exist a good sales intelligence tool, yet, that can bring all of that information together quickly and concisely for the salesperson so that they can make all of those calls quickly, and also be informed.  Be informed about any personal connection with that client.  Be informed about their corporate initiatives that match your product.  Be informed about where the person being dialed fits into the organization.

Being armed with good information is key to making sales more quickly.  Make sure that your salespeople are doing this.  If you are a salesperson… do this.

And make sure the metrics that you are tracking don’t get in the way of this.