Sales coaching without data is like Batman without Robin, or peanut butter without jelly, or Brady without Belichick, or…well, you get the picture. Metric-driven coaching is the only kind of coaching that will result in a consistent, measurable lift out of your reps.
Of course, for most sales managers, this concept isn’t the stumbling block: they know how critical it is to leverage performance data, both in their regular 1:1s and during their on-the-fly sessions.
The real struggle is knowing exactly which metrics to track and to coach around and how to easily provide visibility to your people during coaching sessions for maximum impact.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer: every team, every process, every funnel is different — which means the exact KPIs that are right for one team won’t necessarily translate to another.
With that being said, there are a few kinds of metrics that every single sales manager should be tracking — and if you can find ways to automate any of these, that’s even better.
- Activity Metrics
Activity metrics are the day-to-day activities that lead to a full pipeline. Think calls, emails, outbound dials. The most successful teams set daily activity targets for their SDRs because regardless of your business or industry, sales development is a contact sport.
By tracking activity, you give your reps something they can succeed at every day, and your reps understand the “little” things that lead to achieving quotas, goals and any other desired results. Activity metrics create an achievable, “one-foot-in-front-of-the-other” path to success.
- The #1 most tracked selling activity is calls. But it is surprising the number of organizations that don’t track other activities or weight them by efficacy.
- The right blend of activities cannot be overstated. It does not make sense for someone on the team to be able to hit their daily or weekly activity goal if they send a thousand emails and don’t pick up the phone.
- There is definitely some trial and error that goes into this — and what worked 3 years (or even 3 months) ago might not work today.
- Activity metrics work best when they are logged automatically in CRM upon the completion of the task. This eliminates the need for teams to manually track and log activities (Painful and distracting) while also eliminating the debate around report accuracy when it comes time for 1:1’s and coaching sessions.
Use a scorecard to set daily benchmarks for your reps around the activities they should be performing every day, with the goal of hitting 100% by COB. Make sure you’re tracking who’s consistently getting there, so you know who to recognize and who needs extra coaching.
- Objective Metrics
If activity metrics are your “verb” metrics (calling, emailing, etc.) then objective metrics are your “noun” metrics (revenue, deals, etc.).Objective metrics live farther down the sales funnel: they’re the outputs or results you should expect to see over a specific period of time.
In theory, if your reps perform the right activities at the right pace, they should have no problem achieving their target objectives. But let’s say your reps are doing everything right: they’re exceeding their daily KPI targets on a regular basis, yet they’re still not creating opps at the desired clip or meeting monthly quotas. That should be a major red flag to the responsible manager or leader that it’s time to revisit the activity metrics you’ve set for your team.
Maybe it’s just a matter of the target benchmarks being low — but sometimes, it’s an indicator that your team is prioritizing the wrong activities.
Demandbase, an Ambition customer and friend, ran into this exact issue: their SDRs relied heavily on emailing for outbound initiatives, but based on historical data, leadership knew that calls would produce more qualified leads, faster. To change mindsets and behavior, leadership used Ambition’s gamification platform to set up a Fantasy Football competition: over the course of 11 weeks, SDRs competed on teams, each vying for the highest weekly activity score. Meetings set by calls were the most heavily weighted activity, with a trip to Vegas as the grand prize.
It worked: by changing the kinds of activities the SDRs were focused on, Demandbase achieved their target objectives: over the course of the competition, meetings booked by phone increased by 31x on an average weekly basis.
- “Most Improved” Metrics
So often, sales leaders make the mistake of recognizing and rewarding the employees who score big wins — like most revenue closed or deals won.
The problem is that the same reps tend to get recognized over and over again, which can be incredibly demotivating for reps who are new and still ramping, or the people who are simply in need of extra coaching as they build up their skill sets.
By keeping an eye on most-improved metrics, you’ll give all of your reps a real opportunity to be recognized and celebrated — not just the usual suspects. That’s invaluable when it comes to culture and overall morale.
Most-improved metrics are also critical for sales managers because they demonstrate sales coaching impact. A primary purpose of sales coaching is to drive behavior change, and when you track most-improved metrics, you’ll know if behavior changes are actually happening as a result of your time and effort — and whether those changes are leading to desired outcomes. On the flip side, you’ll also find out where you need to spend more time or change tactics to ensure everyone’s trending up.
Most-improved leaderboards are a great way to do this.
- Efficiency Metrics
Efficiency metrics are a better way to gauge performance than sheer quantity counts. Highlighting the total number of meetings set is great when thinking about quantity-based goals, but how do you account for people who are out on PTO, or who had a day of bad luck when it came to getting someone on the phone?
Efficiency percentage rates tell you who’s performing well (and who’s not) based on the opportunities they’re given. All of these are coachable metrics where you would expect to see your reps improve over time.
Here are a few examples of metrics that illustrate efficiency and effectiveness — work these KPIs into your scorecards and leaderboards!
- Average talk time: shows how well a rep is controlling the call and getting the audience to engage
- Connects to meetings set: shows how strong the pitch is.
- Meetings held to opportunity: shows how successfully the reps perform a demo
- Emails sent to emails open: shows how effectively reps target the right person in an org and how smart the subject lines are.
- Attribution Metrics
Contrary to popular belief, you can measure the impact of sales coaching — and you should. A few ways that we see sales managers measuring their coaching impact in Ambition:
- Measure sales manager activity by the number of coaching activities completed. Call reviews, 1:1s, team meetings, and action plan meetings are all examples of quantity or activity metrics you want to see from your coaches.
- Measure their objectives by improvements in efficiency rates. Are your coaches able to increase the activity output of reps through driving discretionary effort via relationships? Look at the connects to meetings set, opps to closed-won ratio metrics for reps they are coaching. Can they coach specifically to those efficiency rates and document sessions held around those metrics and show the percent lift that happened there thanks to the coaching?
- Survey reps anonymously to see what they want more out of coaching and how they rate the sales coaching they are receiving. High-level sales directors and leaders must be willing to coach their coaches. Just like sales reps need to be measured on early indicator metrics and not just quotas, sales coaches and managers need guidance, resources and early indicator metrics of success beyond revenue attainment.
In the end, finding ways to capture these five metrics automatically in your CRM will unlock the ability to drive efficiency through metric-driven coaching. CTI solutions like DialSource Denali gives you immediate access to accurate performance and activity data so you can develop a culture of accountability and transparency within your sales team.
As sales leaders, we’re always chasing after that “North Star” revenue goals. But knowing and tracking — and whenever possible, automating — the other numbers that lead to The Number is the only way to drive the right behaviors, layer on accountability, and set your reps up for success.