The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

How to Measure Sales Rep Productivity to Achieve Stable, Predictable Growth w/ Rob Käll

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

We know measuring sales productivity is all a numbers game.

But chances are you may be doing it wrong.

Rob Käll started working on this problem when his company over a period of 3 years went from 2 to 100 sales reps and he didn’t get 50 times the bookings. And he always thought there must be an answer to that.

Rob is the CEO and Co-founder of Cien.ai, a software tool that uses machine learning and natural language processing to help measure the productivity of sales reps and identify their points of improvement.

On this episode of The Sales Engagement Podcast, Rob explains how sales productivity should be defined, how it should be measured, and how doing so can be an incredibly effective way to achieve predictable growth.

Welcome to the sales engagement podcast.This podcast is brought to you by outreach dot ioh, the leading sales engagementplatform helping companies, sellers and customer success engaged with buyers and customers in themodern sales era. Check out sales engagementcom for new episodes, resources and thebook on sales engagement coming soon. Now let's get into today's episode. Heyeveryone, welcome back to another episode of the sales engagement podcast. My nameis Joviing Nolo, your host, senior content managing editor at outreach, andtoday we have one of our first international guests, where we are going acrossthe pond over into Europe and we're joined by Rob Shell, CEEO at cocoundraof CN DOT AI. I'm we're going to be talking about measuring reps productivityobjectively. We know it's all a numbers game here with reps, but chancesare, and rob will go into this, you may be doing it wrong,and probably are doing it wrong, but before we get into that,I'm going toss it on over to rob, who can introduce himself, tell usa little bit more about his company and you know what he's what hisplans are. For the New Year. Rob, thanks for coming on theshow today. Hey, Joe, thanks so much for the opportunity to beon the show. Happy New Year to you and all the listeners. WhatI wanted to talk about is what's borrowed me then I last startup. Ihave been a entrepreneur for the last seventeen eighteen years. In the last companywe were very lucky. We grew it from two two hundred salespeople over aperiod of three years. They had in a successful exit to public company inin the US called real page. But the thing that bothered me during thattime was when we had went from two two hundred sales reps, we didnot get fifty times as much bookings and I always thought that there must bean answer to that, and the answer is obviously to affect salesperactivity. Andso when you say sales proctivity, what...

...are we talking about? Are wetalking about specific activities or or, you know, conversion rates? What arethe things that that reps or that manager should be looking at when examining theirreps productivity? That's a great question, and and not coming from sales myself, but be more on the technical side and being an entrepreneur in the CEOI realized it selfperactivity means a lot of different things for a lot of differentpeople, and for me it's comes back to this classic economic definition of activity, which is output per hour or per day or per month or per year. Right, so it's how much your sales reps are producing. And thenthat sounds very simple, but in reality, especially when you're dealing with today's large, complex, high velocity sales teams, it becomes very, very complicated.Yeah, absolutely. And just to be clear, we're talking are wetalking mostly about sales development reps, Business Development Reps, prospectors? All ofabout all of those above and also the true pro activity of account executives,because if you think about it for a second, an account executive, youcan you can think that his productivity is he sold for a hundred thousand dollarsin the quarter. His productivity was a hundred thousand, but that drop.That's not really the case. If you haven't that's ther team. They deliveredvalue to that wrap right to that a and we need to discount that value. And some May that a lot of value and so many as may geta little value. And if you don't keep track of those two two values, then you can you're not comparing apples to apples, and that's again alot of reasons for the inability to scale REP teams very quickly, right,and that's what we have been spending the last couple of years researching and buildingtechnology run. So we're talking about, you know, some of the traditionalKpis, such as, you know, calls made, emails sent, opportunitiesset, like meetings held. But that...

...doesn't paint the whole picture, isthat? Is that what you're trying to say? Yeah, there's so muchmore to it than that. We'd like to say that we can get athree hundred and sixty degree of the sales environment by looking at three distinct areas. The first point is your lead and pipeline factors. That is, thestuff that it's been delivered by your marketing team many times. You have leadsare great quality and you have leads that are not so great, right,like a list lead might not at all be as easy convert as a referralread, for example. Right then the second piece is the wrapped factors,and that where you have things like work ethic, you have things like productknowledge, that things like closing a biblity. You have things like communication skills,so what we call engagement ability, the ability to turn a conversation,like an outreach, into conversation such to speak right. And then the thirdthing is that the macro factors, things that are outside you control but stillaffects your your your sales ability. So that would be things like competitive pressureor seasonality. Some of these seem pretty hard to measure and actually get toa qualitative or qualite quantitative viewpoint of this. How do you explain that to somereps are like, okay, like I can tract things in our reachingand sales force, you know, activity base things, but when you getto those other attributes, how am I going to attract these things right?And that's that's where a lot of the new technology comes into play, whereyou can start looking at not just the number of calls that are being madeor the number of emails have been sent, but also what happened with those emails. For example, one of the things that we are doing is touse natural language processing and analyzing each email to see whether someone is actually respondingin a positive way to that particular email, and if they are not, wedon't consider it an engaged activity. Therefore, it probably does not adda lot of value, whereas, of...

...over hand, someone that is canconstantly write effective emails or someone that can constantly create engage conversations where they're notjust leaving a message, they assue, have a much, much greater things. So we we talked about sales as a number scream, but it's anumbers game with some numbers, such as like whether you're able to engage someone. Those numbers are much, much more important than just their raw numbers themselves. Right. Yeah, absolutely, and I think that's something that our listenersshould really remember, is that the numbers can only tell you so much.And that goes back to the point where you're saying, you know, whenyou you double the amount of reps, you didn't see double amount of productivity. What type of advice would you give to a sales manager, sales leaderwho may be feeling a little, I don't know, scared about the prospectof growing their team when you're telling them they're not going to get the resultsthey probably expect? The first one is to understand the value that they aredelivering to each wrap, especially if you're working with an str team, forexample, are they all receiving the equal amount of leads of equal quality?If you're, for example, if you do an around rope and distribution,you can be fairly certain that you're giving everybody equal value. But in manycase different two territories and different subindustries and so forth. Right. And thenyou may be giving what you think are equal value because you're given them thesame number of leads, they may receive very, very different value because,for example, and Industry, the company is doing really well sell into thetechnology industry but doing really pour it to sell into the hospitality industry, forexample, right. Or they've been doing really well selling to the US butdoing much worse sealing to Germany because the product is not as well established inGermany. And if they are then trying to understand the the true contribution ofthose strs that are working there, they are not comparing apples to apples.So that's one thing. What you're giving...

...each rap and and there are someways to at least, has should say it, estimate those those values right. But it's something that most sales managers are not even thinking about. They'rejust looking at the raw numbers and not taking the true value of these leadsinto account. The second thing is, what are the attributes of these traps? What is their work ethic? Can you determine the consistent pattern of,you know, outreach for each one of those companies? Can Look at theoverall volume? And the third thing want to look at is their effect termsof getting engagement from their prospecting time. Are they just getting, you know, five percent, or they getting ten percent or they getting nothing right?And if you can understand that, you understand a little bit about their abilityto communicate and particular, valid propositions in a clear way and so forth.And there's this giant push to be more data driven in how we make decisions, business decisions, how what direction our company is going. But some ofthese things you're saying are pretty subjective and so that that could throw people offa little bit. I know your company does have provides a service that helpswith that. Can you talk about your company a little bit? Sure?So our prompt company is an AI first company. It means that everything we'redoing is based on analyzing data using, you know, various types of machinelearning algorithms and, mentioned before, natural language processing, which means that you'reunderstanding the content of even text of voice in addition to just kind of likejust the the numbers itself in a record or something like that. Right.So what we are doing is not to try to replace sales force or outreachor any our sales enable men too, but we're trying to do is tohelp you understand how your team can move the needle on some of these thingsso that you can deliver more value through...

...your cells team. So, forexample, if you're finding as a sells wrap is has very little product knowledge, he and then you can objectively measure that through surveys of the wrap himself, the the the manager, look at number of years he has worked inthe company and the industry and so forth and thinking, then you that thingthat's was. Thus it becomes much more clear and then you can correlate thatback to his or her success. You might many times see that there isa certain low minimum level of product knowledge needed in order to be successful inchances are that in your organization you have some reps are well about that,but you may have some reps are struggling with that particular things. So ifyou can help them with the training for those particular reps, you can bringthem about that minimum threshold. Our wraps may be struggling with other things,such as work ethic, in a sense that they are just not able toconsistently do that activity level that is needed for for success. A third rapmight have a different problem. He or she may not be a closer,you know she's now they are never asking for the for the sale. Theyare getting the deals, you know, to seventy five percent, but thennot pushing them across the finishing line. So each one of those things canbe measured, even if they sound like, you know, fused things, especiallywhen you're using machine only, like we are, and then you canget much better results because of that, and I recommend everyone use some sortof tool like your company's, like machine learning, like Ai. But ifyou weren't to do that, what are some of the things that sales managercould do today without purchasing a product that could help them to measure some ofthese seemingly like, as you put it, fuzzy traits that will eventually help movementright. So let's look at this stuff. But the one thing thatI think, for example, I think inside outreach all you can do thisstuff fairly easily. You can look at the total number of activities are particularrap has by category, so number of...

...calls and number of emails, andthen you can see how many of those had a positive outcome, in asense that they provided some type of engagement with the prospect. And if youthen compare that on each rap as a kind of a percentage, you havea general idea of how effective they are in generating an important enough message tothe prospect that they start talking back to you as opposed to just ignore youremail. Right. Yeah, I mean I think that's that's a good point. Understanding which activities provide that actual measurable lift and any the outcomes. Right, we talked about I'll reach a lot about, you know, reply oropen rates, the AI or even reply rates. Wow, while those aregreat metrics, what if the reply was taking me off your list? Right, it's you have to look past that number, right, and that's wherethe they more advanced AI and Soulf for comes in, where starts saying takeme off your list is not an engagement, that's a rejection, right, andif you're using something like a natural language process and you can distinguish betweenthose two responses, yes, I'm interesting. Versus taking up the list, andthat's that's obviously one of the areas that are now starting to become moreand more important with these types of sales assistants, tool, sexy and andothers. And as you've implemented your your solution at companies, what are someof the surprising findings that you have about uncovered, like, what are someof the eye opening like Oh, I didn't know, I didn't know thatmattered so much with with a Rep. so this is my favorite topic andit comes down to a question that I always ask people. What's the mostimportant thing to you need to have in order to be a great salesperson?And people say, Oh, great, communication skills, Oh, great work, ethic, great, this, great, that right, great, and Isay all of them, but all...

...of them. It's not that youhave to be awesome, awesome in all of them. You just can't suckin any single one of them because the second you are terrible in one ofthose categories, the factors kind of becomes a multiplication factor where you've multiplied byzero, like if you're working, I think is zero, then like theentire thing becomes zero. So oftentimes you can find the one weakest link inyour kind of in that particular reps behavior and address that a little bit andthen get much, much better sells. I love, I love that day. I mean it is is, it is somewhat like a multiplying by zeroright. It's totally, totally negates all of your other positive attributes because you'reterrible one thing, or, as you would put it, you suck itone thing. That's that's fantastic. What type of results of you have youbeen saying? So if you go in, you analyze, you know, anentire kind of team of of their activity and then you, you know, they give the you give the insights the sales leaders. What type ofresults have you been told that that, once implementing your solution, sales leadersare starting to see right? So we made our business from the get gothat we don't want to be basing this on anecdotal evidence of success. We'remeasuring our level of success every single second as we're running it with a company, because that's the whole beauty of running a completely integrated solution. It connectsstraight into sales force and any data from a comfort, from a product likeoutreach also goes into our solution and then we are measuring the overall productivity ofthe team in that Non Fassi way I talked about originally. We've been measuringthat true pro activity for the entire team and for each individual on an ongoingbasis as output per hour or output per month, depending on how you configurethe system. And then our goal is just to move that parctivity need though. It's not about selling more. It's...

...easy to sell more. You justhire more reps. you know, if you hire more reps and spend moreon marketing, of course you're going to sell more. But what we arewant to do is to maintain that or increase that level of productivity. Typically, what we can do is to increase that four, five six percent very, very easily, and when you do that and you combine that with ventincremental investment into sales and marketing, you have this fantastic growth machine for foryour company, and a lot of our companies are, our customers are thetype of modern SASS companies that sell a recurring service where each incremental doors isso incredibly valuable to the company because it allows you to run the company muchmore capital but efficient. You get much more predictability in in your in yourgrowth and you increase the enterprise value at many of these companies are venture funded, that the next venture run can happen at the higher valuation and you canget quicker to an APEO IPO exit. That I mean you're now you're speakingour language. Are At outreach. We talk a lot about revenue efficiency.Right, being more effective and efficient without adding more resources or investing more,and I think you know you're that's what you're working at right. You wantthose incremental increases, find the the activities and the behaviors that provide measurable liftand then roll those out across the entire team. Right, and that's oneof the things that we always look at. Right. Company that's use is atool like outcreach typically captures a lot more of the data that is neededto make these types of improvements and they also tend to make their processes toget the data in and perform the path much easier. And when you havethose steps in place or you have those tools in place, you immediately getincreased self perativity. That's one of the things certain fine and rob if ifyou had one takeaway for our listeners, one thing that they could use orlearn from this podcast episode if they tuned out for the rest of the episode, and this is the part that they're fighting finally paying attention to. Whatwould that take away? The pay attention...

...to your wraps and find their weakestarea for each one of them, whether it's closing ability, whether it's workethic, whether it's part knowledge, whether it's something else, and try tofix that and if it's not fixable, the wrap is problem not fixable.But if they can do that they can immediately get much more value out ofthat particular team member and make that team member much more happy in their rolebecause all of a sudden they see improvement in their in their performance. Soreally is a win win for both sides. Right for the come funny end forthe employee. Absolutely, Rob if people wanted to get a hold ofyou learn more about cn or just kind of, you know, send overa question or two, how could they do that? Is this way isto email us at info at CN DOT AI. You can also connect withme personally on Linkedin. It's linkedin flash. I am Flash, ROBERT COW ONEWORD KA L and you can also check out our twitter. it's CNunderscore AI. Wonderful. Yeah, I mean I imagine a lot of peoplegoing to be reaching out to learn more about your company, because those subjectivetraits that actually affect your bottom line, people need to be looking at them, people need to be measuring them and it's going to be a lot easierwhen you have a tool to do that. So, rob thank you so muchfor coming on the show today. I want to thank all of ourlisteners for tuning in once again and we will see you next time on thesales engagement podcast. Thank you. Thank you. This was another episode ofthe sales engagement podcast. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes, resourcesand the book on sales engagement coming soon. To get the most out of yoursales engagement strategy, make sure to check out outreach dioh, the leadingsales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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