So, sometimes I refer to myself as “The Badass Sales Leader”. I do this to set the right tone for hard conversations I need to have with Founders and Sales Leaders about behaviors I have no tolerance for, like Sales Reps. who take their base salary for granted. Let me be clear. I’m all for paying SDRs, AEs, and CSMs a base salary along with commission and bonus. What I’m not ok with is NOT getting ROI on that investment.
There is a lack of sales accountability culture in most organizations today. Sales leaders, for reasons I can’t explain, are not holding their sales reps. accountable for what used to be considered table stakes: Making a certain number of outbound calls, having a certain number of booked meetings each week, keeping meticulous notes on prospects, staying current on industry trends, adding new deals to the pipeline each month, and actually hitting quota!
Let’s start with some basic activities you should expect from Sales Reps., without you having to harass or twist their arm, in exchange for the base salary, they are being paid.
- Top of the Funnel Activity - I don’t care how much your sales reps. are producing or how long they’ve been in sales, you should expect them to spend some % of every week prospecting for new business or expansion of existing business. No one likes to prospect, I get it, and that includes me. But it’s a necessary evil. Consistent prospecting will lead to consistent revenue, end of story. Sales leaders, you need to be clear about your expectations around prospecting activity. For newer reps. or SDRs I actually give them a total activity number, as well as, an OB call goal for each week. With more seasoned reps. I expect a certain number of new pipeline deals each month to have been self-sourced. You give your reps. a revenue quota, why aren’t you holding them accountable for top of the funnel activity?
- CRM Hygiene - This is a really hot button for me and it should be for you too. Reps. that don’t complete call notes, attached emails to a contact record or don’t bother up update deal stage/probability % in the CRM are making your life HARDER! Sales leaders should be able to manage 45% of their business using technology, with the CRM being the single-source of truth. Set your expectations about CRM hygiene during the interview or when you start as the new sales leader. No sales leader has time to be tracking down sales reps, to get updates on deals and activity that should be available to them in activity history, reports, and dashboards.
- Pipeline deal Hygiene - How many of you have read this book, “Your Funnel is a Fantasy”? There is no reason that you should not expect your sales reps. to keep their pipeline up-to-date and clean. Each time they get off a phone call/meeting with a prospect in the pipeline, they should review the stage and probability of that deal to make sure it accurately reflects where the prospect is in the decision-making process. You should hold a deal review meeting with your reps. monthly to determine what in their pipeline is real vs. fantasy. I recently wrote a blog post on this topic where I outlined my “sniff” test for deals that need to be closed/lost- Stalled is NOT a stage!
Here’s my sniff test:
- They said No!
- You’re told another priority has moved in front of this evaluation/decision and “why don’t you call them in 3 or more months.”
- There is no FIRM next action/meeting and you’ve had no 2-way communication with them in 60 days.
- The prospect missed the last scheduled appt. and has gone under for the last 45 days.
- You lost your contact or DM and you’ve not made contact with the replacement in 60 days.
Only 60% of Sale Reps. are hitting quota- this isn’t because the new crop of sales reps. are defective or buyers don’t need what you sell anymore. I believe a lack of accountability culture is to blame. It’s your responsibility as a sales leader to hold your reps. accountable for what you and the organization expect and need from them and to address those reps. that refuse to be held accountable.