How can you quantify the contribution of your sales development team to your overall sales process? And how can you ensure your reps are performing to the best of their abilities? It starts with a qualitative look at the data from your outreach.
Don’t just look at how much and how often. In order to see your team succeed, focus on the quality of your SDR efforts and how to improve.
Below are some of the main metrics we look at to measure how well our team functions at setting appointments, qualifying leads for sales, and growing the pipeline.
1. How many records are touched
The first metric we look at to determine productivity is the number of records that have been touched. This gives us an idea of how many conversations our SDRs are having.
While we can track these metrics easily through our phone and other communication systems, the total number of touches is not necessarily a measure of SDR performance. We want to keep our outbound volume high, but it’s hard to tell from that number alone if reps are spending their time having productive conversations or just dialing through to meet a quota.
The number of dials won’t give you the full picture of an SDR’s performance. That’s why we always examine the quality of those attempts and look for ways to improve.
One of the major frustrations that come with the SDR role is the relatively low number of leads willing to pick up and speak on the phone. Ask any new SDR what their biggest challenge is, and they’re likely to cite this lack of response.
The key to this metric is to focus on the conversations your SDRs are having. Low connect rates are just a reality of the position, but conversational issues, like difficulty finding the right point of contact, are challenges that can be overcome with better training and tools.
Touches vs. dials
What do we mean when we say “touch,” and how do we differentiate that from a “dial”? Let us take a moment to explain our method of tracking this metric.
When we refer to touches, we’re looking at the individual ways an SDR reaches out to a lead. A phone call is a touch, a voicemail is a touch, an email is another touch, a LinkedIn message is another one, and so on. You get the idea.
However, when we talk about the number of dials an SDR has made, we’re referring to each periodic attempt an SDR makes to reach a customer. The difference is that we include each touch—the voicemail, email, and message—within one attempt or “dial.”
We differentiate between dials and touches not only to track how many prospects our SDRs are reaching out to but also if they’re using all the tools at their disposal during those attempts.
2. How many times records get touched over a period of time
When we look at the average number of times records are being touched, it gives us some important insight about our call cadence strategy. It tells us:
- If SDRs are proactively taking the next steps on a record
- How long it takes a lead to engage with our company
- How long it takes for a lead to become a sales-qualified lead
This metric can alert you of any reps that are not maintaining the proper cadence or giving up on contacts too soon. At EBQ, we use our own lead rating system called EBRating to track lead progress and act as a cadence guide for our SDRs.
It’s crucial that your reps follow the established call cadence, so, with all other variables being the same, you can better track and determine what cadence works best for your buyers and how receptive your leads are.
We can adjust our outreach frequency based on the averages we see in this metric. For example, if we find out that touching on cold leads five times over a two-week period gives us the highest engagement rate, we will want to match our cold call cadence to this benchmark in the future.
It’s helpful to look at the touches-over-time metric in relation to lead source. If we see a relatively low number of touches needed to convert leads generated from a trade show, we might conclude that the event was a good source of quality leads who fit well with our company.
If we notice that leads from other sources, like inbound efforts or certain list purchases, are receiving the same amount of touches as the trade show leads but not converting, we could adjust the frequency of our outreach or try to identify issues in lead fit or our messaging.
The number of touches over time can determine an ideal call cadence for your different types of leads, but after taking a closer look, you can also deduce where your most promising leads are being sourced from.
While quantitative measurements can be taken with more simplistic apps and systems, we depend on Salesforce, our CRM of choice, for essentially all of our SDR metrics and reporting.
Salesforce is unsurpassed in its ability to provide deep insights and assist in qualitative improvements, and if you need help implementing or administering your own instance, EBQ has Salesforce-certified administrators who can help with the process.
3. Appointment completion rates
The number of sales appointments our SDRs set is important, but we are primarily concerned with how many appointments are actually completed. We can learn more about our customers and get valuable feedback on our outreach methods by looking at the number of accepted meetings.
There are a few different factors that can contribute to a low completion rate, including:
- Quality of leads
- SDR performance issues
- Nature of the target industry
When looking at our rate of sales appointments completed successfully, the standard that we measure our reps against is one appointment scheduled for every 100 dials to made.
Out of every 10 appointments set, we generally expect two of those meetings to end up being rescheduled. And as far as standard SDR metrics are concerned, one of those is likely to fall through entirely.
A 90% completion rate might seem optimistic, but keep in mind the rate can differ widely from this standard depending on the target persona, sales cycle, and selling price of an offering.
Also, keep in mind that completed meeting rates are typically higher for marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), leads who were brought in by inbound marketing efforts, compared to cold leads because MQLs are usually “warm” leads that have made it past the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.
In any case, if you see this rate dipping lower than expected, take a close look at the variables within your qualification process:
Eventually, you will come across leads who agreed to a meeting just to get your cold caller off the phone, even if they don’t fit your target persona and have no intention of learning about your offering. This is why it’s important to have a fully developed and market-tested buyer persona, only import lists of narrowly targeted contacts, and tailor your inbound strategy to match.
If your metric data is showing you a significantly lower meeting rate than expected, revisit the quality of the leads you are providing for your reps. It’s improbable that a lead will take a meeting, or ultimately buy your offering, if they’re not a good fit, no matter how skilled your SDR team is.
Another common issue when it comes to completion rate, however, is SDRs pushing leads to set an appointment without properly qualifying the lead and ensuring interest is genuine. If you notice a considerable variation in this metric between different reps calling the same persona for the same offering, the less successful SDR likely requires further coaching on qualification procedures.
If you’re pursuing the right leads and your SDRs are qualifying them properly, missed meeting rates can possibly be affected by the nature of your persona’s industry. For example, industrial personas who primarily work out in the field are going to be harder to reach when the time for a sales call rolls around. We’ve been able to improve these answer rates by:
- Sending calendar invites immediately after the lead agrees to a meeting
- Verifying that calendar invites match for both the lead and the sales rep
- Confirming participation and details the day before or the morning of the call
- Having leadership join calls to ensure leads get on the line
Our other KPIs
There are two other key performance indicators we use to track the effectiveness of our SDR team that are worth mentioning here. We pay close attention to how many records reps add to the database and how much they contribute to pipeline progress.
Both of these metrics are somewhat unique to EBQ because of our prospecting strategy and our custom lead rating system. However, we’re sure you can find ways to apply this to your team and maybe even some inspiration for improving your own processes.
Records added to the database
Since we use an account-based strategy, we expect our SDRs to go beyond the data provided and contribute to the pursuit of our target companies.
When on a call, reps should perform adequate prospect discovery to determine a contact’s purchasing authority and seek out alternative points of contact who have the ability to make budget decisions. This can also be accomplished with thorough account research and manual prospecting via LinkedIn to find contacts in other roles at the same company.
We measure the number of records that SDRs add to our database to make sure reps contribute to pipeline growth, and align with our overall goal of streamlining sales processes for our closers, instead of just hitting quotas.
Pipeline movement with EBRating
Some of the most compelling evidence of an SDR’s skills is their ability to move leads down the pipeline and closer to becoming an SQL. Let’s take another look at the EBRating system to see the steps our SDRs take to help buyers move closer to qualification.
SDRs shouldn’t make the same calls to the same leads over and over; they should be warming leads up and nudging them nearer to conversion with each touch. We look at contacts’ EBRating over time to find out if our reps are asking the right questions and providing the right information to generate interest for their leads.
We want to see a lead’s rating go from the number they entered our pipeline with to that qualified rating of zero, and we sure don’t want to see their rating increase or leads unsubscribe.
When experiencing a lack of movement or too much negative movement in the pipeline, there are a couple of adjustments to your outreach strategy we recommend.
- Touch cadence: Providing your team with the best practices for call cadence and making sure they utilize them will help your SDRs seem less intrusive with their calls and stay persistent.
- Call scripts: We don’t advise SDRs follow a script verbatim, but having a guide for what to say when beginning the call will help reps make the most of that short window of time they have to capture leads’ attention.
If your goals are to grow your pipeline and deliver more qualified meetings to your sales team, then these metrics apply to you.
Quantity is important when evaluating your SDRs and your team as a whole—high call volumes are imperative to B2B appointment setting. But an in-depth look at the quality of your outreach and qualification processes, and the knowledge of how to track it, is paramount to your team’s success.