The Sabremetrics of Prospecting

Posted by Mike Scher

Apr 10, 2015 11:01:00 AM

shutterstock_102627152With baseball season upon us, I couldn’t help but think of baseball as a metaphor for what we do in sales and prospecting.  For nearly 100 years, Major League Baseball used the same statistics to measure baseball players.  The three most popular metrics have always been Batting Average, Home Runs and Runs Batted In (RBI’s).

In the 1970’s, a gentleman by the name of Bill James founded an organization called the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR). Bill wrote a little publication called Baseball Abstract and the organization looked at a different set of indicators to determine the real impact a particular player would have. These metrics have become known as Sabremetrics and include On-base Percentage, Runs Created, Slugging Percentage and OPS (On Base plus Slugging).

At first, the baseball establishment ridiculed the SABR team as just a bunch of stat nerds. That lasted until the 1990’s when Oakland As General Manager Bill Beane (who was played by Brad Pitt in the movie “Moneyball”) wholeheartedly embraced Sabremetrics as a way of building competitive teams.  The A’s, with a payroll that was often at the bottom of the rankings, became competitive with the big spending franchises. 

Even though I am a Yankee fan, I also have to give props to the hated Boston Red Sox. They hadn’t won a World Series since the Russian Revolution (the one in 1917).   Then, their General Manager, Theo Epstein hired Bill James as a special advisor. By focusing on metrics that moved the needle, Boston has gone from a perennial joke to a formidable contender and regular post-season participant.  Today, Sabremetrics are as common around baseball as hot dogs and beer commercials.

When we look at prospecting, I feel as if we are back in the 1970’s. For my entire adult sales career, I have observed hundreds of business development teams and spoken with many sales leaders. I ask most every one of these people what metrics they track.   The answer is almost always “dials”, “connects” and “conversions”.

Just like Batting Average, these metrics are so last century.

Next, our conversation shifts to behaviors.  When I ask these same leaders to describe the behaviors they want to reinforce, the responses are also common.  They all want their business development team to NOT do single-threaded selling. They want them to sell and prospect into multiple people in an account.   They want them to touch these people in different ways using the phone, email, social media, etc.  They want their team to be effective at uncovering sales intelligence and use it. . . ”intelligently”.  Lastly, they want their people to follow-up on a regular basis, fully understanding it takes time to connect with the right decision makers.

If these are the same behaviors you want to see, then why track only dials, connects and conversions?

What if you could track AND manage the behaviors you really want to reinforce?

What if you could teach and instill those behaviors throughout your team?

Well, you can and there are thousands of sales reps that are knocking it out of the park as a result. 

The first step in becoming the Billy Beane or Theo Epstein of your organization is understanding what those metrics need to be.  In other words, the Sabremetrics of Prospecting.

At FRONTLINE Selling, we like to think of ourselves as the Bill James of Prospecting. We studied 1.8 million outreach efforts and developed our own version of Sabremetrics within a prospecting software solution called Staccato.  Staccato tracks what we refer to as the Metrics that Matter.   Here are four of them to help get you started:


Key Players (Contacts) per Account
–  If your sales process has any level of complexity, chances are there are multiple influencers or decision makers.  CEB says there are 5.4 influencers in the average decision process.   It would then stand to reason, you don’t want your reps doing “single-threaded” selling or prospecting. You want them communicating with multiple people in an account.   Measuring key players touched per account is a terrific indicator.
Rounds per Day – Multi-touch approaches are only effective if they are combined in close proximity to one another.Leaving a voicemail on Monday and sending an email on Friday is not as effective as doing both in the same day.A “Round” is a cluster of prospecting touches engendered in a single day, to a single key player.Measuring “Rounds” of activities vs. dials is a much better reinforcement of a multi-touch strategy.
Touches per Round – If you believe in a multi-touch approach, then it stands to reason that more touches, more consistently is better than fewer touches, less consistently.Three touches is better than two; but not as good as four.Measuring touches per round is an indicator of the quality of outreach that your reps are doing.
Net-new Key Players Touched – You want your people doing follow-up in a proper frequency and interval.Often times we see a lot of “one-and-done” calling.On the other end of the spectrum, we see the “water-boarding” approach where the rep gets infatuated with a small number of prospects and calls the same people over and over again.Neither are behaviors you want to reinforce.By measuring how many new key players your reps initiated prospecting activities with; you can help guide your team to following up in the right frequency and interval.

If you haven’t noticed, the calendar says its 2015.  Are you stuck in the 1970’s tracking dials, connects and talk time?   If so, do you also drive an AMC Pacer to work every day, too? Just askin’ . . . 

To learn more, download one of our Think Differently eBook today.   Download eBook

 
FRONTLINE Selling can help you refine your client communication processes. Contact us today for more information on services that help you prospect more efficiently and close more sales.

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