Sales Development Leaders: Inspect What You Expect

Are you a sales development leader running a data-driven organization? Are you attempting to be?

sales development leaders inspect what you expectIf so, I have a question for you: Can you accurately report your sales metrics and predict what’s going to happen in the future based on what’s in your sales funnel right now?

That’s what I’m here to talk to you about today. As sales development leaders, we must inspect what we expect if we want to get better at forecasting.

Where Sales Development Leaders Should Start

For me, and for my team, inspecting means tracking everything. Here’s a quick list of the top KPIs I expect and inspect from my SDR team:

  • Activities
  • Conversations
  • Discovery Calls
  • Sales Qualified Leads
  • Opportunities Created

From a basic level, I do want to track how many of all types of activities my SDRs have completed, but — and my team will back me up on this — I care most about how many conversations they’re having.

Conversations can be through phone, email, social or any other medium. How you engage with your prospects isn’t quite as important as how much you’re engaging with and educating them.

So you may be asking: “Ok Josh, so then why do you also track discovery calls?”

The answer is simple: to educate and make change happen.

Educating the market is extremely important. Even a brand like BizLibrary that has been around for 20 years is still educating the market on what we do. Your SDRs should never assume that prospects know exactly what your organization does.

Anyone who sells B2B will tell you it’s difficult to get a large organization to move. Convincing them why they need to change, in my point of view, is the most important piece to get that ball moving.

The discovery call is a critical part of the sales process. This is where SDRs bridge the gap between sales and marketing through educating and qualifying prospects. An account executive doesn’t want a hand-off call with an uneducated prospect! How can you qualify if you haven’t educated them on what your company does and what issues you can help them solve?

How Sales Development Leaders Can Increase Predictability

In short, we’re inspecting all of these activities to reverse engineer the sales process.

We start at opportunities created and move backwards through the process all the way to activities, measuring conversion rates between steps of the funnel. That allows me to predict how many activities will lead to conversations; how many conversations will lead to discovery calls; how many discovery calls will leads to sales qualified leads; and finally, how many sales qualified leads will turn into opportunities.

This is part of a new trend developing in modern sales called Activity Based Forecasting, where you can predict how much revenue you’ll bring in based on the number of top-of-funnel activities.

The caveat is that you absolutely must be able to trust the data in your CRM. If you suffer from bad CRM data, can I suggest using incentives to ensure top quality of CRM data?

If you inspect it because you expect it – why not incentivize it? In The Sales Acceleration Formula, Mark Roberge sees sales contests as a way to get new initiatives off the ground.  

“Want to sell a new product? Incentivize it,” Roberge writes.

The point is that if you want to get your reps putting accurate data into your CRM, build contests around data quality and input. Make sure your reps know the common modern sales leader adage, “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.”

When you achieve high data quality, you can start tracking all of the activities in your sales process with metrics. And you need to measure all of the steps in your sales process so you can calculate conversion rates between them. Once you’ve got that information, you’ll know what to expect at the end of the funnel based on your top-of-funnel activities, setting you on the right path to achieve better predictability for your sales organization.

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