How to Manage a Sales Team to Make Prospecting Predictable?

Outbound emailing requires a lot of research into a target group and A/B testing before it can take off and become truly predictable. It’s not unusual that a sales team (ours included) loses its motivation before that happens. Either that or they lose focus and target prospects ad hoc, just to get their numbers right. There is something that helped us. It is a proper goal setting.

There are a lot of team management frameworks available online. Quick research made me learn something about AOR, agile sales management, and some general management advice. Nonetheless, I’d love to introduce you to something that works here, at Woodpecker, and that thing is OKR.

What are OKRs?

OKR is a goal setting and tracking technique that is applied in many popular organizations like Google (which popularized the use of OKRs), Dropbox, Zalando or Capgemini. It’s an abbreviation that stands for Objectives Key Results. The name encompasses two concepts — the first one is Objectives (what a team wants to accomplish), the other is Key Results (how a team will achieve that).

Why is it a great method of organizing your sales team?

OKR can be a great management tool for a couple of reason. First of all, OKRs build a collaborative relationship across the team. Your entire outbound team works together on achieving a common objective. Such alignment makes a goal easier to accomplish. Secondly, every member of your sales team is involved in strategic decisions, so they don’t lose the motivation to work in sales. They also feel that they can grow together with the company.

But the most important benefit goes as follows. Generally, sales teams thrive on going over the numbers. It is what drives them and makes them strive for more. I think that choosing an organizational system that focuses on getting quantifiable results is a great fit for an outbound sales team.

How to apply OKRs to manage outbound sales

We’ve started implementing OKRs by setting up a two-hour-long meeting to write down objectives and key results for this quarter.

Objectives need to be clearly defined, provide direction and focus on quality. What does it mean exactly? Suppose that you want to make your prospecting predictable, your objective can be, having a predictable way of sourcing quality prospects.

Now, you need to come up with key results that will allow you to tell whether you got to your objective. Define about 1 to 4 key results per objective. Each of them needs to be specific, inspiring or hard to achieve, and measurable (either numerical or show an increase or reduction or that something has been generated). Yet, they shouldn’t be based on vanity metrics.

To accomplish our OKR, having a predictable way of sourcing quality prospects, our key results could be:

  1. Determine a new reliable prospect source every week.
  2. Find 50 qualified prospects with validated email addresses a week.
  3. Interview 5 ICPs a week to gain insight that will help you target better.
  4. Reduce dependence on ready-made list, make 85% of contacts found manually.

Those are just examples from the top of my head. What do you think? Are you ready to start?

Bring OKRs to your team

Does it sound like your sales team could create a predictable prospecting process with this goal-setting method? If so, I have a few resources and tips to share with you.

A bucket of resources

First, there’s a great book by John Doerr who helped implement OKRs in Google. I recommend you also watch his TED talk.

You can also grab a step-by-step guide by OKR-tracking software, Weekdone. I found a great Medium post filled to the brim with examples of OKRs from Uber, YouTube, and other companies. I also encourage you to see the OKR template linked in the article.

A few tips on setting OKRs for your department

There are a couple of rules you should follow if you’re feeling like starting with OKRs right now.

  • make your objectives aspirational – they should give you a sense of challenge. Google says that they achieve their OKRs in 70% each quarter.
  • set the maximum of 5 objectives – trust me, it’s more than enough to have five objectives, but you can start with one and see where it gets you.
  • set objectives every quarter – goals should be motivating and hard to achieve, that’s why having a goal that should be completed with 3 months ahead is a good idea.
  • share progress regularly via email – send an email to everybody involved in your teams’ OKRs, so you’re all updated how it’s going. We send emails every two weeks.
  • assess how you’re doing – use a scale of 0-0.1 or 0-100% to communicate on how you’re doing on a key result with your team; it will help you iterate the next quarter.

That’s all. How do you feel about it? Are you going to give it a shot? Please, share your experience in the comments.