Here at Modern Performance, we know if there’s one thing that truly gives you the edge, it is mastery of metrics. A while back, we had a great chat with our experts about the most important KPIs to monitor for their teams’ success, and the conversation didn’t stop there. Metrics and data are crucial to understanding how to manage and develop your employees, but so are the less concrete aspects of performance that just can’t be quantified. However, just because these intangibles aren’t directly numerically measurable doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an analytic approach. The greatest modern sales leaders equip themselves with the one-two-punch of developing their employees through improving metrics and soft skills.
So read on learn the sweet science of tracking and accessing the qualitative performance of your organization beyond the numbers. Whenever you’re this deep in the weeds you need a good guide, and our experts have your back. Check out this week’s roundup to master time-tested methods and frameworks to understand some of the most abstract elements of performance management.
What are the qualitative performance things you like to pay attention to that are hard to instrument?
Confidence, attitude and humility are some of the more intangible attributes I look for in a candidate and continue to track through professional development.
“If a team member’s goal is to be a thought leader in the Home Décor space, we come up with metrics. In the next quarter, you need to publish three blogs on home décor, attend one trade show or conference, and provide a list of people you spoke with or things that you did. That way, we start to track actions they are taking to get to that place.”
If there was somebody lacking in confidence, I could see us saying, well, what are the reasons. Is it because fundamentals are weak or unclear? Maybe it’s public speaking or maybe it’s not knowing the product well enough or not being able to speak on X, Y or Z. Then you can start to build metrics around those. Making them into really actionable things.
We use the third-party product pitch in the interview process to gauge someone’s ability to deliver a compelling story and connect with the buyer. It’s a good way to see how well people prepare and how much attention they pay to formatting and other details. Do they ask interesting questions? Are they just pitching the benefits of the product without showing an understanding of the buyer’s specific needs? You can get a feel for someone’s innate curiosity.
“If you can witness someone asking pointed questions or repeating back key words and ideas to you, that’s as good as any metric in measuring curiosity, a great skill that a lot of salespeople don’t have.”
Passion is another key attribute. That word is used pretty loosely. But there are ways to tell if someone is genuinely excited about the space. In the healthcare space, do they have someone close to them that has impacted by a chronic disease? Do they have a personal connection to the space that they can describe in any way, shape, or form? When they wake up in the morning tired, hung over, or just unmotivated, will they have some extra motivation to keep them on task? Intrinsic passion and innate curiosity are two really important qualitative measures.
The qualitative is always the harder to track. Quantitative is much easier.
You can watch the numbers change, but it’s difficult to track the quality of the opportunities, the meetings that people are having. Someone could have a pipeline that looks really awesome, but if they’re not quality, how do I identify that? I approach this through one-on-ones with my Reps where we discuss the quality of deals that are closer to the finish line.
“I find that if you’re asking people point blank about a specific deal, you get a much better sense of it, as opposed to just looking at a report in Salesforce.”
The quality of human interaction comes through in pipeline review, through team chatter, but it’s still difficult to track.
The first qualitative measure I look for is personal effort. There’s a correlation between a rep who regularly smashes his or her quota and those who do the little process things that sales managers preach. For instance, how does the rep spend his or her time when not on the phone? Are they on YouTube or Facebook, or are they talking to managers about new approaches, organizing their upcoming to-do list or reading a chapter or two in the sales book?
“It’s a key skill, managing time, planning and preparation before calls. Failing to plan really is, as they say, preparing to fail when it comes to making sales calls.”
Second is knowledge. Does a sales rep understand your product inside and out? Can they answer any question both from customers or internally about your products? When new features are introduced, do they make the effort to learn about those new tools? Can they communicate your product’s value proposition against the competition? It’s being fully aware of your competitors, their products, and perception in the industry at all times. Third is personality and attitude. Does a rep get along well with the rest of the team? This doesn’t just mean hanging out for a few beers and laughs on a Friday afternoon. It’s important to observe how helpful a rep is, how willing are they to go out of their way to help pick up a struggling rep. Teamwork is a really critical part of sales success. Lastly, is the rep willing to accept responsibility when things don’t work out? A rep who steps up and is willing to take responsibility publicly is a strong sign of character.
“Some of the soft skills: rapport, emotional IQ, meeting quality, and phone skills are hard to quantify, but also really important to understand.”
It’s hard to quantify rapport or a rep’s emotional IQ. If they tell me, “The prospect loves us. The meeting was so great,” and then we lose the deal, I’m left trying to deconstruct what happened. Some people are better than others at reading situations, and you’ll often see that their overall conversions will be better. But to address emotional IQ you have to sit with them on a lot of phone calls, and in a lot of meetings, to see where their gaps are, and coach them that way.
Learn more from our experts, and see full profiles, here:
Alexis Zhu, Director of Revenue at Affirm
Mike Haylon, VP of Sales at Care Message
Katie Cartwright, Head of Fulfilment Sales at Easypost
Jeff Rothenberg, Director of Customer Services at Upgrade
Bridget Gleason, VP of Worldwide Sales at Logz.io
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