Today I was working with a client setting KPIs (key performance indicators) for a new business development sales rep he wants to hire. We calculated the number of sales they need the rep to make this year, the length of the sales process, the number of first-time appointments the new rep will have to conduct every week, right down to the number of prospecting hours required to get those meetings.
And then the business owner asked, “But don’t we have to set a KPI for the number of new prospect calls the rep has to make every day – you know, the very first call to a prospect?”
He thought every call after the first dial didn’t count as prospecting. In his mind, those calls were simply follow up and not nearly as important as the first one. Somehow he’d built up the first dial to be the hardest one to make. Every call after that was supposedly easier. But prospectors know that isn’t the case.
Every call can be difficult until you successfully set the first appointment.
A small percentage of reps happily pick up the phone, smile and dial every day. But most reps have to diligently prepare themselves to make prospecting calls whether it’s the very first dial or a follow-up call. They prepare their lists, value propositions, objection responses and initial questions. Then they mentally prepare for the overbearing gatekeepers, droning voicemail, and circular phone system issues.
This is why you’ll see such high turnover in appointment setters and telemarketers. It’s also why it’s so difficult to find good hunters. If you aren’t valuing and measuring prospecting appropriately, many reps burnout within a year. One business owner I spoke with lost his rep within 6 weeks!
It takes 9 or more attempts to reach a new prospect. At best only 1 out of 10 dials result in a conversation with a real decision maker.
When their KPIs don’t recognize the importance of consistent prospecting follow-up to reach target contacts, you’re not only setting yourself up to lose a potentially good rep, you are also directly impacting your prospecting success.
This attitude toward prospecting calls is why so many new business development reps and appointment setters fail. They give up too soon. They make the first call and perhaps two more. Then give up. And your KPIs actually support that.
Prospecting is a form of nurturing, just like you do with email nurturing campaigns. It’s the repetition that finally gets you in the door.
When we’re training sales reps how to prospect, we teach them the Bloodhound Follow-up Strategy that covers 28 days and 16 touches. After 28 days, if a prospect is going to take your call, they will. If prospects don’t respond, good reps schedule the whole process to begin again next quarter.
To motivate your reps’ prospecting activities, redefine what prospecting means to include all the touches required in the Bloodhound Follow-up Strategy. Then set your prospecting metrics to acknowledge and reinforce the effort required to execute and get the first appointment.
Here are the three prospecting metrics that I always look at:
- Number of prospecting hours per week or day. Yes, you really do need to set a number for everyone who is not an appointment setter. Without this target, prospecting time tends to slip in favor of working existing sales opportunities.
- Number of first-time appointments per week. Now they have a results-based target for their prospecting hours. It isn’t just about the activity of prospecting but the results, too.
- Number of first-time appointments that convert to sales opportunities. Here you’re reinforcing the importance of setting qualified, first-time appointments. If the first-time appointments aren’t qualified, reps will have a difficult time achieving this target.
Once an opportunity is generated, your sales metrics kick in to measure the length of the sales process and close ratios.
Without the right KPIs in place, you may actually be discouraging the very prospecting behavior you want from your sales reps. Not only can that cost you new business, but it can also cost you talented sales reps.