By Eric Esfahanian
The Pareto Principle – or the 80/20 Rule – is the concept that 80 percent of your effects are obtained by 20 percent of your causes. Your sales force probably proves out the concept as well: about 80 percent of your company’s revenue is produced by 20 percent of your sales team.
Although the 80/20 Rule has come to be expected, you can turn the Pareto Principle on its head within your own organization and distribute performance more evenly and consistently. To do this we have to get back to basics.
Call Activity: Stats Don’t Lie
By enlisting the help of technology and analytics, sales leaders are now able to challenge that conventional sales wisdom and increase the average effectiveness of every rep to drive performance and revenue target rather than simply rely on the 20 percent year after year. But, in order to do this, you must be able to measure your team’s call activity…all of it! At first, it may seem simple, but ask yourself: “Are you able to accurately measure your team’s daily call activity?”
If you’re like 90 percent of sales teams today, the answer will be “not even close.” But technology has evolved and it’s now possible to easily capture sales rep telephone activity from any phone or carrier. Really!
Once you can take a transparent look inside your team’s activity, it might be a shock to discover what is actually happening compared to what you thought was happening or what you have been told was happening or what CRM reported was happening.
If you want to grow your top line systematically, relying on manually generated reports or overly hopeful input from your reps’ CRM entries to measure call activity is no longer adequate (and maybe never was). With automated, real-time, and 100 percent accurate data, you will have a baseline of minimum performance and the knowledge to set realistic expectations for your team and manage to that expectation.
For nearly two decades, Gryphon has captured phone-based sales activity from some of the largest sales organizations worldwide, and found several key performance indicators that are truly predictive of success. These include the total number of calls a rep makes, conversation conversion (contact-to-close), the call frequency (persistence) of the reps, and how many times they are reaching out to their leads before they are “exhausted.”
If you focus on (first) understanding and (then) improving these metrics, you will be amazed at how quickly it impacts your sales team’s effectiveness and your revenue – and how sustainable it will be if you keep it up over time
Turning the Pareto Principle on Its Head
Once you have an accurate standard against which to measure your team’s performance – and set benchmarks to follow – what’s next? Identify the behaviors of your top and bottom performers and get an understanding for how they are succeeding or how they are struggling. Use their behaviors as teaching opportunities for your team.
Train your bottom performers with the techniques your top performers utilize to win over prospects. Not only are you able to coach to proven standards, but you will decrease on-boarding times for new employees.
Listen to Lead
Speech analytics can help you with this as well by providing a completely transparent view into conversations. Once the exclusive domain of call centers or spy rings, advances in secure cloud recording and analytics are now within reach for any rep calling from any device. With this powerful capability, you can ensure your reps are adhering to their scripts without veering too far off message and pick up on notable keywords, confidence indicators, and even the emotions of your rep and their customers during conversations.
With this kind of data and insight into what works and what doesn’t, there is no reason to fail. You are taking control of your team, managing their performance, and are able to forecast with confidence.
For more than 20 years, Eric Esfahanian has been helping clients increase sales and marketing effectiveness with innovative business intelligence technology and processes. As Chief Revenue Officer of Gryphon Networks, Eric is charged with driving growth of Gryphon’s Fortune 500 client base with cloud-based sales performance management solutions that increase revenue and client retention while reducing training/onboarding times for large, distributed sales organizations. Previously, Eric held sales leadership roles with MicroStrategy, Hewlett-Packard and EMC Corp. He received his MBA in Entrepreneurship from Babson College and Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College.