For the Love of Data: Achieving Real Insight into Sales Activities

This is the first post in a new blog series written by Base Sales Manager Kathleen Osgood around the metrics sales leaders need to enhance sales performance.

If you scroll through LinkedIn or even perform a quick Google search on building sales teams, you will come across articles with titles like, “Sales Strategies to Build your Team,” or “KPIs of the Best Sales Organizations.” There is A LOT of content out there, and while some of it is compelling, most of it is fluff. It seems much of what you find is positioned from a very high level and it feels theoretical rather than real and actionable.

I’m a lover of data. I like looking at it, I like thinking about the story it tells and hey, I even like sharing it. Above all else however, is my passion for developing winning sales teams. Frankly, data helps me do my job better. With all of this talk about metric driven teams, what metrics should you choose to look at? I won’t claim to know the answer for all industries, but I would like to spend some time in this blog post sharing some of the sales activity reports that we keep an eye on in our inside sales team at Base.

Three Activity Insights

Like many other software companies, we employ Business Development Representatives (BDRs), Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) and Account Executives (AEs). Our BDR team is responsible for qualifying marketing-generated incoming leads, ensuring they are a good fit for our tool before introducing the prospect to an AE. Our SDR team uses an account based selling approach to prospect into businesses in particular verticals where we know we can bring great value. Finally, our AEs run the remainder of the sales cycle, and bring the deal to a win or lose decision. Surprise, I like wins better.

The reason I provide some context into the roles is because the activity of the reps naturally varies by group. For the sake of this blog post, we will be reviewing our BDR team activity report. If we look at June’s data, the BDR who was the highest over quota also demonstrated the most overall activity (calls, emails, completed tasks) in Base. This same individual is pacing to repeat his top performance in July and frankly, he has simply outworked his peers. See below.

Report 1

Humble brag here, but that is a one click report that lives right in the Base platform. We can filter by team, date ranges, type of activity etc. Pretty useful, right? Not surprisingly, we have learned that this “hustle” shows a similar correlation to great quota attainment in our team of Account Executives.

Our AEs are blessed with quite a few warm leads every month that the BDR and SDR teams pass along. That said, the reps that are consistently outperforming are picking up the phone to do some of their own prospecting as well as sending more emails, asking for referrals, etc. Now, this isn’t a huge surprise to most sales professionals reading this post. However, I would like to point out a few things to consider when it comes to sales activity reports:

1) Many sales organizations don’t have a way to track this type of data. In fact, when asked to grade their relationships with their sales data, 83% of sales leaders gave themselves a B- or lower.

2) Organizations that do track this data access it from a manager level as opposed to an individual contributor level. The feedback from our sales people on having visibility has been overwhelmingly positive. I frequently overhear reps making comments like, “I’ll catch Pat in one more call.” I love the competitive nature of sales people.

3) You can’t coach what you don’t know. We frequently talk to teams exploring Base as a solution who aren’t able to quantify rep activity. Sure, they can see who is reaching quota or outperforming the rest of the team, but without KPIs like number of calls or the outcome of those calls, how can they coach those falling behind? Use data as a way to understand what your best performers are doing.

Beyond the Email/Dial Count

Now, it is naïve to think that pure activity is the driving factor for success in sales. We look a layer deeper when understanding what our team is achieving. Beyond pure quantification of output, we can realize what is happening in each call and email with our prospects.

As we scale our team, I have been spending a fair bit of time considering email and call outcomes, and yes, this is another one click report in Base. Below you will see data from our BDR team and the email outcomes report for July.

Report 2

Like many development teams, our group uses a specific outreach cadence, which is a combination of calls and emails. While we have guidelines to the language they use in their email outreach, we let reps customize and make the content their own. Not surprising is that certain reps had better email responses than others.

We tracked the response rates for some time as a sort of “A-B” test of what content and type of messaging was having the most traction with our prospects. Another nifty component of having a team working together out of Base is that individual contributors can share their email communication with the rest of the team. This visibility means that reps who had lower response rates can read and then commandeer language from reps who had better response rates to improve their templates. Sharing is caring, after all.

Getting Started Measuring Sales

Obviously, these metrics are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measuring and analyzing the performance of a sales team. In my next blog I’ll be writing about stage duration analysis in a pipeline funnel – yep, the length of time Account Executives keep deals in various deal stages. Sounds sexy, I know, but I promise that you will be blown away by what we learned (and more importantly how many more deals we were able to win). While you patiently wait, check out our white paper, Understanding the New Metrics of Sales.

Side Note: I am on the lookout for a top Account Executive to join our team. If you are hungry to win, passionate about technology, and want to work with some of the best talent in the Bay Area, please drop me a line. You can also go here to check out our open positions.

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