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Sellers: Pay attention to these leading indicators

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 3/2/23 2:04 PM


I asked Tiffany Lyman Otten to share her best advice for sales managers on how to improve, and leading indicators were at the top of her list:

The first thing I would say will probably be a little controversial. Abandon the vanity metric. Because number of dials, number of this, number of that that make you feel comfortable like a warm blanket. They're the same thing as, like, open rates for email. 

At the time, they don't even mean anything. It's just me marking it all as red. There are so many things that it just it's meaningless. Find out what works. Customize those plans to the people that work for you. If you have a nurturer, who sells five deals a year, but they're worth five times your company's sales target, let them sell how they sell.

And then, if you have someone that is a smile and dial and brings in a whole bunch of small values, let them do that too. Don't be afraid to make that custom.

And metrics is the number one thing there because they will drive someone into the ground.

You might have someone willing to do what they know will help the client buy and buy a lot, but they can't because of their actual metrics, or their manager won't let them sell how the buyer wants to buy.

And I think of their alternate status.

That is a tough one. I would say advocacy because I know it's tough when you're a salesperson if the process fights you the whole time, so if you know that this is what is needed to buy.

Talk to your marketing. Talk to your CMO, your chief revenue officer. Talk to the people that help make these decisions and figure it out. They might have a limited amount of juice to make it happen. Unless they're quite up there and have the pull. Branding is of vital importance.

When I was in sales at Global Spec, they had an article that went out and was possibly one of the most important things I'd ever seen. And it was about how if your company is not effectively doing branding, then your sales reps have to do it at the beginning of every single call that they have.

And think about that. If I am Apple, and I call you, I'm selling you on something I know you'll love. Apple is, you know, what we're about, and it's, you know, a pretty easy thing. 

But if I'm banana, you don't know what banana does. You have yet to learn if banana is relevant. And because banana hasn't done a good job branding, I, as the salesperson, must do that whole part before I can have that conversation. 

sales posturing.

We call it Sales Posturing, one of the things in which salespeople position themselves in the company when the company isn't very well known. And, yeah, you know, and I would never have thought of that third point. If you as a company don't have a strong message and brand about who you are, what's important to you, and what you do best instead of rebranding, you're relying on salespeople with different types of messaging to do that. 

So they need to figure out when they're talking to someone, are they accomplishing awareness, understanding, or engagement? Because everybody, regardless of what we call the funnel, falls into those three. And where is the person you're talking to?

And that's where you have to start, even if it's not where you want to start.

Leading Indicators

So number one, the vanity metrics. I love that. I talk with many sales leaders about what metric I should look at. And in certain respects, what I call a lagging indicator because it happened, and you don't know until after the fact whether it has.

And it's not something that necessarily means that you're going to get the deal where it is. Leading indicators, things as I look at talk time on calls, number of questions, buyer engagement on the call, response times open like open rates, and sends a follow-up after opening your emails.

These are all leading indicators that tell us whether this is an actual quality conversation that's gonna move and impacts your lagging indicators. I also love that too because sellers, a lot of times, the behaviors that they adopt are because they're under pressure to meet their activity metrics. I need to do fifty calls. I don't have time to customize all of those to my buyer, so I'm just going to spray and pray. I've done it. And this is how companies create the problems that salespeople are struggling with.

And then to your second point: The Advocacy side of things

Sales managers have the toughest jobs, really. Because they're trying to be the buffer between their sellers and all of the demands coming down the pike, they have to create this bubble of an environment for their sellers to operate in to be focused on their buyers.

Luckily, what most managers do is as the pressure comes down to them, it continues to travel. You know, that's saying, "It rolls downhill." That is such a great point, Tiffany. Thank you so much.

What's the best way for people to reach out and ask you some questions to get a hold of you?

LinkedIn's probably the easiest one because, given the nature of my role, my email box is where things go to die. After I clear my three hundred unread emails every morning, I might see what I care about, but LinkedIn's probably best. Yes. So if you want, and if you're going to sell me something, do not waste my time. 

I was just going to say that. Because now Tiffany has told you exactly what she cares about. And so, if you're a seller and you think Tiffany will be your buyer, my best advice to you is to follow her advice. Otherwise, I will hear about it.

Until next time, everyone, keep learning and keep sharing out there.

If you're a seller listening and you want to know what's going on in your buyer's head, send Carole a message. Let me know who your ultimate buyer is, and I'll see if I can find someone in my network to understand what's happening inside your buyerS' brains. 



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Topics: sales, sales leadership, sales analysis, Buyer First