I Don’t Care How Many Calls You Make Or Emails You Send!

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I read an article about the key productivity metrics managers are tracking. According to the survey of over 1000 sales managers, the five most popular metrics were:

  • CRM utilization,
  • Calls made,
  • Emails sent,
  • Conversations,
  • Use of sales tools.

I was left scratching my head, thinking, “WTF??????” With the exception of conversations, none of those have been metrics I’ve cared about.

I don’t care about CRM utilization. Measuring a sales person’s CRM utilization is absolutely meaningless. This doesn’t mean CRM isn’t important. CRM is a critical tool to help improve seller productivity. But I’m not going to measure it.

However, every deal review, every pipeline review, every territory/account review, every call plan, every forecast will be done with CRM. If we have scheduled a deal review, I will open the opportunity tab in CRM, using that information to guide our discussion. If it isn’t there, we will reschedule the review 24 hours later, by which time you will have updated that opportunity. If you aren’t using CRM, you aren’t being as productive as you could be. But measuring utilization is too easily gamed and distracts from the real value of CRM.

I don’t care how many calls you make. The number of calls is meaningless. In fact, any sales person who can’t double whatever goal set, isn’t worth his/her job. With modern dialing technologies, call volumes are one of the most easily gamed metrics in sales. Give me a goal of 50 calls a day, I’ll have those done before the first coffee break. 100, yep, I’ll do those between lunch and my afternoon pee break.

Emails? Just give me a list. Email automation enables me to send 1,000,000 emails before morning coffee—all while I’m making those 50 calls. I’ll always beat any goal you set for me on emails. Will you make that part of my comp plan? Perhaps $1 per 10 emails. I can make a decent living sending only 20K emails a day. Might even use some of that to pay for my own lists….

Conversations! Now those are important! Meaningful, high impact conversations with the right prospects and customers are what drives engagement and our ability to achieve our goals. Calls and emails generate those conversations. I don’t care how many of those it takes, I care about conversations.

And it’s not any conversation. I care about who you are having conversations with, the quality of those conversations, and the outcomes of those conversations.

I want to measure the number of high impact business conversations you have had with prospects or people we have never spoken to. I want to understand the outcomes of those conversations.

I want to measure the high impact conversations you have with people directly involved in a buying project. I want to see what was accomplished and agreed on next steps.

I don’t care about the conversations you may have had to have to reach those people. No disrespect to executive assistants, or loosely involved people, or people we know who aren’t directly involved. These conversations may be on the path to the high impact conversations I outlined. But I don’t care about those, it’s expected you have to do the work that creates these high impact conversations–so suck it up, do the work to get these conversations. Whatever it takes.

Of course, if you are leveraging CRM the way you should, you should have identified the outcomes of these high impact conversations and next steps.

I don’t care about your utilization of the tools. Those are made available, to help improve your efficiency and effectiveness. Some give you greater insight into the customer, enabling you to have high impact conversations. Using them maximizes your ability to have more of the right conversations with the right people at the right time, producing meaningful outcomes. So I should see those results in your conversations.

And if you aren’t producing these results, we will talk about how you are leveraging the tools to improve your impact and effectiveness.

With the exception of high quality conversations, none of these metrics have anything to do with your ability to achieve the goals for which you are accountable. You could “max out” your manager’s expectations in each of these areas and not produce $1 of revenue!

As surprised as I was to see four of these as key productivity metrics, I was surprised to see what wasn’t identified.

I care about your pipeline and the related metrics around pipeline quality, health, win rates, deal size, sales cycle. I care about your prospecting and what you are doing to drive more high quality opportunities into the pipeline (high quality prospecting conversations help us with this).

I care about the mix of business you are pursuing, making sure it is consistent with organizational priorities and goals. Are we pursuing the right new customer opportunities in a high quality manner? Are you looking for high quality deals across our product line?

I’m care about the quality and execution of your deal strategies. Are you working with the right people, do they consider you a resource in helping navigate their buying process, are you creating differentiated value with every interaction? Do you have goals to continuously improve your ability to execute the sales process?

I’m concerned about what you are doing to develop our current accounts. Are you making sure these customer are ecstatic with our offerings and support, are you maximizing retention and satisfaction. Have you developed and are you executing plan to maximize our share of account? (Again, CRM gives us clues about this.)

Same thing about your territory, are you aggressively pursuing new customers and opportunities in your territory?

I care about what you are learning, how you are developing yourself to maximize your current contributions, what you are learning to grow your ability to take on greater responsibility, to move to more senior roles.

I care about how you feel about what you are doing and our organization, whether you feel heard, included, valued. I care that you are getting the support you need to achieve your goals.

I’ll stop here, I suspect you may get my point–but I am worried about those 1000 managers…… Well actually, I’m more concerned about their people. What these managers care about is unimportant to the ability of their people in achieving their goals. Where are they going to get help, coaching and support in doing that? Will they feel compelled to look for it, or realize if they spend their time, quiet quitting, just playing with CRM and other tools, they will keep their managers happy……

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