Like no time ever before, we have a vast array of data available to us as managers to help inform our understanding of an employee’s performance and output. A good leader can, and should, interpret the metrics available to them to color their understanding of each individual contributor on their team. From revealing laggers who are in need of extra attention to identifying star performers ready to be groomed for a higher position; data-verified assessments of an employee guarantee that your focus as a mentor can be structured by all the right factors. Using data as a cornerstone for praise or criticism of an employee adds veracity and efficacy to your instruction. Tracking if an individual contributor is on pace to meet their quantitative benchmarks allows you to construe your staff’s ability to attain even the highest level goals in the crosshairs of your org.
Simply put, data is a hugely necessary foundation to fair and productive leadership, so the ability to interpret and utilize metrics to develop each member of your team (as well as your company at large) is paramount. Who better to help you cut straight to the most critical individual key performance indicators than our account executive experts? Read on for advice on the most important metrics to watch and what they really mean when it comes to tapping into the full potential of each individual you manage.
What are the most important individual metrics to track for performance?
I work backward, starting from quota and focusing in on each sales cycle. I’m going to look at what their revenue is, then I’m going to look at how many Proof of Concepts (POCs) they are initiating because POCs have a really high close ratio.
“I know if somebody does x number of POCs in a quarter, they’re going to hit their number. So I can just look at POCs and say, ‘Yep. That looks pretty good.’”
Then I look at discovery calls: when you’ve actually got somebody engaged. If they do a certain number of discovery calls, I know 80% of those will end up in POCs. This leads back to raw activity. How many phone calls do they need to make to get one discovery call? There are countless metrics you can track. I try to get it down to the smallest number I can, but these are the ones that I tend to return to.
For high performers, I look toward two metrics, presuming they can be properly and accurately captured. One would be quality meetings.
“Rather than simply tracking the number of meetings, define what a quality meeting looks like, and track those.”
Some attributes of a quality meeting might involve the role and level of influence of the person with whom they’re meeting. These are all things that would be captured in a CRM. Was there more than one person in that initial discussion? Could you properly articulate their pains beyond just future needs? Do they have specific business challenges tied directly to their need for a platform like ours?
Second would be conversion rates in any way, shape, or form. If I can look at their ability to convert leads to opportunities through quality conversations, great. If I can get bottom-of-the-funnel data, even better. Of all the deals they bring to stage three or stage four, how many actually close? Because the mistake we often make is to take too broad or too holistic of a view of improving salespeople. For example, on my last team, I had a guy who was tremendous at getting people bought into the concept of Lever, but he was terrible at closing. Without conversion data at each stage of the funnel, I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint exactly where he was having an issue, and really properly assess what’s how to fix it.
For SDRs, we use Outlook to tag positive reply rates. That’s something we’ve found effective in tracking outbound SDRs.
“We don’t just track how many replies you got, but how many positive replies because that’s really what’s going to drive the needle for SDRs toward their quota.”
Once we have that number we ask, “How many emails or accounts do you need to touch in order to hit quota?” We always try to move that number up because that’s one of the easiest numbers to increase.
For account executives, we focus on driving deal size, or Annual Contract Value (ACV). As you become more senior, build a better pipeline, and get to know the industry more I want you to be focused on driving your ACV, on a per-seat basis, in the deals you land. I want my team to sell bigger contract values from earlier on. If they can grow their deal size by ten, twenty, or thirty percent, then that means that they’ll hit quota that much faster.
For account managers, the number we want to look at is touch points per quarter for VIP clients. The goal there is defending our relationships and making sure big clients feel loved and cared for.
You have the typical metrics like “Are they making enough calls? Are they doing enough demos? Are they speaking to enough people in an organization?” But the harder thing to track is the quality of the call. I can’t be on every call, and my managers can’t be on every call with our reps. Even recording them and listen to them later takes a lot of time.
“We try to focus on helping account executives become self-aware in terms of where their weaknesses are, and identifying trends. If they find they’re continuing to lose prospects for one recurring reason, we try to coach to that.”
We do a lot of reviewing emails, and we have account executives send a recap email to their prospect, going over what was discussed next steps, and the time of the next call. We’re all really heavy Salesforce power users. All the notes from their calls, and emails are synced instantaneously to Salesforce as well. We can track how the emails look, what those recap emails look like, so I can quickly go and see where each potential deal is in its current stage. I also look at their calendar for the week. I’ll tell you, empty calendars usually result in low performers. We try to make sure, even if you’re new and you’re still trying to get ramped up, that you’re aiming to book more meetings on your calendar.
People ask me about metrics a lot. I think they expect answers in terms of deal cycle lengths, win rates and pipeline size all the way down to the number of demos, number of onsite visits, number of calls, and number of emails. My thought on that is you should absolutely be tracking those things. The more revenue-generating people you have, the more cycles you have under your belt and the more that these metrics are helpful. They’re helpful to separate out your top performers from those who need improvement. Metrics can provide you that snapshot. But it’s really only a very small percentage of your job.
“Metrics regarding pipeline are good indications of follow-through or persistence or the pipeline available to close, but it’s really getting into the weeds of each deal that gives me the best feel for how successful an account executive will be.”
My expectations for those are pretty explicit. We build those into our tracking system. Examples of things that I look for in deals are ‘Do we have the right people? Do we have the decision maker and the champions involved? Do we know who signs the contract? Who leads the integration? Do they have a budget? Do we understand their buying process and the parties involved? Do they know our process? Do we have a timeline in place? Do they accept our return on investment assessment?’ It’s part of sales training and part of this continuous conversation that managers should have with all of their account executives on every deal. At some point, you’ll feel very comfortable when you start realizing that your folks have all these questions answered. If you just look at some of the win rates, it will give you a good indication of who the high-performers are, but it will make your job of coaching the middle-performers or the low-performers much more difficult if you weren’t regularly asking these questions about deals or tracking them in your CRM.
For my team specifically, I’m looking at lead to opportunity conversion. Earlier in the funnel, I am watching email metrics, for example, email reply rate compared to email volume. Then, from a close perspective, I’m watching the days duration in each stage, noting how long it’s taking for a deal to move throughout the pipeline.
“The two big buckets I’m looking at are the email lead combo and opportunity progression. You could call it weighted pipeline, the value of the deal times the percentage of the probability of the deal; so we have an idea of what’s going to hit and what we can project from there.”
Learn more from our experts, and see full profiles, here:
Bridget Gleason, VP of Worldwide Sales at Logz.io
Justin Roberts, VP of Sales at Lever
Annelies Husmann, Director of Sales at Mode Analytics
Mike Haylon, VP of Sales at Care Message
Alexis Zhu, Director of Revenue at Affirm
Katie Cartwright, Head of Fulfilment Sales at Easypost
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