Why Sales Opportunities are the Best Metric for Tracking SDR Success

With the amount of data available today the prevailing challenge has gone from gathering it to knowing how to action it. This is true for every aspect of business, from the C-level all the way down to your entry level Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). As sales enablement technology becomes more data-driven, managers are more likely to have too much data than too little when it comes to tracking the progress and success of their SDRs. So which metrics work and which should be put out of their misery? Let’s run through them and find out.

Call Activity

Tracking call activities (total calls made + emails sent) is often seen as the tried and true metric for evaluating SDR success, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. The problem is that call activity is “broke” and needs some fixing.

The main issue with using call activities to keep tabs on your SDRs is that it doesn’t always translate to qualified leads and opportunities down the line. Every time your SDR picks up the phone to make a call they could get a lead, but there is no certainty with that, even on a massive scale across weeks or months of activity.

It also doesn’t differentiate between activities of different quality. A grammatically horrific email or a voicemail-less call is worth just as much as a personalized email or a quality phone conversation. That’s not right.

Additionally, a good call will take significantly longer than a voicemail, so there should be days when your best SDRs won’t hit their usual call numbers because they are busy having quality conversations - a much better use of their time and energy.

If a manager primarily focuses on call activities, even their best SDRs will start to focus on volume in lieu of the non-call activities that could make them great, inadvertently stunting their professional growth and hurting your bottom line.

All this being said, there is clearly still a place for tracking SDR call activities on a regular basis. If an SDR is consistently missing their activities goal that should still be flagged and addressed, but there are clearly flaws when you take an interpersonal role and break it down into purely quantitative metrics. The good news is that today’s CRM’s allow for - and even encourage - including details when logging a call activity. At demandDrive we have a standard metric that we use with every client to determine the quality of their activities:

The QC

The QC (quality connect) adds a qualitative measure to your call activities by separating one-sided attempts like voicemails and sent emails from conversational connects. When our SDRs have an informative conversation or email response (even without leading to a lead) we label it as a QC and include as much detail as possible when it’s logged into the CRM.

Tracking QCs gives significant insight into successful call activities and allows a manager to easily see both how many conversations the SDR is having and the quality of those conversations. If an SDR’s activities are high but their QC numbers are low there could be an issue with their messaging that needs to be addressed. Conversely, if they have a decent number of QCs but you find that many of them have irrelevant information it points to a different issue centered around the SDRs inability to carry a qualification conversation. By tracking QCs, SDR managers can gain important insight into the quality of their teams work.

But just as call activities only measure activity quantity, QCs are only ideal for measuring activity quality. No two QCs are identical, so to treat them as a number does a disservice to both the metric and the SDR putting in the work. Two SDRs could have the same number of QCs, but there is no easy way to identify if the quality of SDR 1’s QCs are the same as SDR 2’s without the time-consuming act of diving into every single QC they both log in the CRM.

By combining the results of call activities and QCs you can learn a lot about the process your SDRs use day-to-day, but you still have no way to measure its outcome. So why don’t we consider tracking the ultimate result of SDR success:

The Lead

Leads are the fruits of an SDR’s labor. Every call & email leads up to this (pun intended). Almost every SDR is primarily focused on the number of leads they pass - and for good reason. The majority of SDRs are compensated based on how many leads they hand over to an AE. On the surface this makes sense. Passing over a qualified lead is the final step the SDR has with a prospect -  their portion of the funnel ends here.

Once a handover call successfully occurs the SDR hands the reigns over to their AE, at which point they have little to no further influence over the chances of it closing. Or do they? Just as a call activity fails to express quality, so too does a lead when measured traditionally. A ring of the bell (or your team’s equivalent) is the same for every lead, but if every lead were equal they would all become closed deals of the same size, and we all know that’s not true.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to develop some fancy new metric to try and qualify the value of a lead that your SDR hands over, you simply have to look down the sales funnel at:

The Opportunity

Think about it this way: Activities are to QCs as Leads are to Opportunities. Where QCs are used to measure the quality of activities, opportunities can be used to measure the quality of a lead. This is important to note because there is a prevailing disconnect between the importance of lead quality and opportunity quality. There are two reasons this shouldn't be the case.

For one, not every lead becomes an opportunity. There are a myriad of reasons for this, from poor timing to lack of budget and everything in between. So why should your SDR be compensated for passing a lead that gets you nowhere? Sure, it’s great that they have the ability to convince a prospect to have a deeper conversation, but if that conversation becomes a bunch of tire kicking then it was ultimately a waste of time - and an SDR shouldn’t be rewarded for wasting an AE’s time.

Secondly, even among opportunities there are discrepancies in quality. An enterprise account will almost always be worth more than an SMB for obvious reasons. If you’re judging your SDRs based on the number of leads they pass, there is no distinction for which ones yield the most revenue. Ultimately the quality of these leads affects your company’s bottom line, so why should they be treated equally just because they’re at the top of the funnel?

The good news is that this data should already be in your CRM (assuming your AEs are responsible when it comes to updating their pipeline). By evaluating and compensating your SDR on the opportunities their leads create, you value the quantity and quality of their work while getting them to focus on finding high quality opportunities instead of leads that are easy to pass to the AE team.

Conclusion

Before you go changing the comp structure for all of your SDRs it’s important to remember that no two companies are the same, so you need to take the time to find out what makes the most sense for your business. If you still feel that leads have individual value, try creating a mixed comp plan where they earn part of their commission when they pass a lead and the rest when it becomes an opportunity. If you task your SDRs to focus on qualification and leads are secondary at the moment, work QCs into the plan. Tracking SDRs is no longer as simple as it used to be, and that’s for the better. Tracking SDRs properly in 2019 takes smart work, but if done right it can lead to considerable success for you, your team, and your company as a whole.