Introducing a KPI-driven approach to your sales team has immediate and lasting effects on performance. We’re talking short term and long term. However, the unforeseen effect is the spark of a transformative culture change.
And we’re talking about the positive kind of culture change. But you already know that. If you’re a little uncertain, read this blog post to get you up to speed about the importance of a KPI-driven strategy within any sales structure.
Here are a few instant culture changes that will make your salesperson a better salesperson and sales manager a better sales manager. Not to worry, we’ll show you how to get started in implementing this in an engaging way with your sales team. Gotta crawl before you can walk.
A Sense Of Awareness
If you can’t measure it, it’s not worth doing. If a salesperson knows they are working within a KPI-driven system, it gives them a firm understanding of what’s expected from them and what they need to do to succeed. It also helps them answer common questions such as, “How am I doing against the goals I’ve set out for myself?” and “How am I performing compared to my peers?”
We consistently see that some of the reasons our customers have so much success is because we create visibility around how people are performing against their sales KPIs — and visibility creates insights. Did Fitbit teach people that they need to move their body to be healthy? No. It just gave people insight into what they were actually doing, and insight changes behavior.
In a sales environment, that can mean creating aha moments like, “Geez, I didn’t realize how far behind I was on my VP-level conversations this month,” or “Wow, I didn’t realize that Mary, who sits right next to me, is really good at finding new business opportunities.” This knowledge subsequently creates…
Opportunities For Organic Collaborative Learning
That salesperson thinks, “I should go talk to Mary so I can learn from her and replicate her success.” Creating an open and collaborative culture allows for the wealth of knowledge that already exists to be shared and spread naturally, all because of the creation and exposure of key performance metrics. The self realization of learning opportunities is much more powerful than even the most diplomatic manager saying, “You could use some work securing VP-level conversations. Go talk to Mary who is great at it to see what you can learn.”
When you build an internal infrastructure based on measurement and visibility, a creative and collaborative ecosystem of performance will follow, while at the same time reducing the need and feeling of micromanagement.
From Indirection to One Direction: Up
Developing a measured culture gives people a sense of not only what others around them are doing, but what they themselves are doing. It allows the salesperson to ask, “How can I optimize my own sales performance?” and to asses and answer that question on their own, or to know which people to go ask for help.
Ever heard that a team is only as strong as its weakest player? A KPI-driven sales culture encourages and enables the entire team to improve their performance. All too often managers focus their time with the top performers, but research supports that making just small improvements with your middle performers is far more impactful than small improvements with your top performers. It’s fascinating research. [Here’s an article I wrote on the topic for “Inc. Magazine.“]
A KPI-driven culture improves everyone — it’s a holistic thing.
6 Steps for Building a KPI-Based Sales Culture
Now that you’ve learned about some of the benefits a KPI-driven approach brings to your team, let’s get started. Here are steps you can take, starting today, to get your team on track and focused on the right sales KPIs:
1. Open a dialogue. Make the decision process collaborative. Explain all of the added benefits and opportunities that come with a KPI-driven sales system. Get buy-in from the outset. [For more on this, read our blog post: “Why the Best Sales Leaders Discuss Sales KPIs with Their Teams.”]
2. Interview your team members. Talk with your sales team about the type of dynamic steps they have taken that yield the best results. They aren’t going to tell you their very specific KPI’s, but you’ll start to get a sense of it so that ultimately you can decide. (This is an area where LevelEleven can help, too.)
- Ask your top performers what specific behaviors and activities make them successful, and what they think other people should be doing. Keep in mind, most of the time time performers have no idea what they are doing different. But it’s worth asking as you may uncover a couple of important nuggets.
- Ask middle performers what they’re doing day-to-day, what they think they need to be better at, and what they perceive the top performers do different.
- Then ask the bottom performers for their perspective. This entire process will help you understand the team better, and also increase buy-in when it comes time to roll out your sales KPIs.
3. Choose 3-4 KPIs. Choose too many and brains will explode, so keep it simple to start. The final indicator will be a lagging indicator (e.g., closed deals) and help ensure the leading indicators are impacting output. [For more on leading and lagging indicators, read this post.]
4. Live and die by your KPIs. Breathe, eat and sleep your sales KPIs. Know them inside out. They are your credo, your battle cry. Without this embrace, there won’t be fuel for your engine to run. Think of how much better your weekly one-on-ones will be when you are armed with performance metrics against the collective KPI’s. Now you have true performance and coaching conversations — and are not just asking what’s closing this month.
5. Have patience. Change is hard and does not happen overnight. Trust your new proactive system. Measure, track and collect data in the meantime.
6. Tinker and reboot. Every week, or every other, assess your sales team’s numbers and retool your arsenal of sales KPIs if necessary.
Now ask yourself: Do you want to lead your sales team by steering and guiding them with favorable winds in your sails OR do you want them to lag them by being the anchor that holds back the ship?
Next up we’ll elaborate on how you can pick the right sales KPIs, the difference between a metric and a KPI and much more. Don’t go anywhere.