When it comes to defining sales KPIs, you have a few options: You can sit in your office, choose your main KPIs and announce those metrics to the team, or you can get your salespeople involved in KPI decisions.
Go with #2.
Yes, it takes extra time, which is why many sales leaders find easy validation in skipping this step. But those who do, miss out on these three big-time benefits:
1. Eliminate Sales Activity Assumptions
In the chance that you or your team are unknowingly making assumptions around any of your critical sales activities, KPI discussions will open communication to help. Here’s an example:
- The KPI: You want to become more deeply integrated into your customers’ organizations, so you developed a KPI last quarter around the number of new leadership contacts added to the accounts in your CRM. You’d like to keep it as one of this quarter’s main metrics.
- The Meeting: In your KPI meeting, your team begins discussing this metric. One sales rep says it doesn’t seem to make much sense, asking: “What’s the value in adding random contacts to accounts?”
- The Takeaway: Obviously, random contacts differ greatly from leadership contacts. You now know that your team’s misaligned in understanding the kinds of relationships this KPI exists to boost.
So, by discussing KPIs you get these sorts of quality checks on the behaviors happening to achieve them.
Beyond that, these types of meetings also help deter assumptions around the impact of certain KPIs. You definitely know your stuff, or you wouldn’t be leading a team. But selling changes daily. Talking KPIs with the folks living in those changes can reveal surprising insight around activities that are draining efficiencies or having less impact on the sales process than expected.
2. Reinforce Performance Expectations
An effective KPI meeting will also strengthen your team’s alignment around sales performance expectations. The perfect chance to seek out this benefit? When your discussion turns to adding a metric to your KPI list.
Ask the team what they think would work well as an additional KPI. You should get questions back like: “When we’re not working on the other KPIs, what do you want us to be doing?” And even if you don’t, each suggested KPI warrants a quick explanation on how that idea does or does not align with what you expect in terms of performance.
Clear expectations will do more than just keep everyone on the same page, too. Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano, authors of Discover Your Sales Strengths, summed it up well in the Gallup Journal: “When salespeople understand what is expected of them at work, they are much more likely to be engaged in their jobs, produce better results and generate greater customer loyalty. Setting clear expectations is a cornerstone of good sales management.”
3. Achieve KPI Buy-in
Perhaps most importantly, you get buy-in on your sales KPIs by holding these meetings, as well. By giving your team a voice, you empower them to feel a sense of ownership over their sales performance and the metrics that define it.
It’s worth taking a time-out to discuss what this really means. We’ve all heard at some time that a sense of ownership helps motivation. But do you know just how much?
According to the Journal of Organizational Behavior, a sense of ownership toward any certain thing — whether a tangible target or not — leads to positive feelings around it. It leads to a sense of responsibility. And it leads to people seeing that target as an extension of one’s self. That’s pretty powerful stuff, especially when it comes to KPIs.
Alright, so what do you think? Ready to take one extra hour before finalizing your sales KPIs to discuss them with your team? If that’s a yes, get ready: We have a quick guide on setting up and running KPI discussions for you next. We’ll get your team to a place where they have no questions on what’s expected, which sales activities deserve focus and what it all adds up to.