Since March of 2009, OpenView, a Boston-based venture capital firm, has helped launch 6 lead qualification teams for our portfolio companies as part of the Labs team’s operational support services. As a key player in this specific support service that our unique VC offers, I believe that one of the most important things to consider when kicking off an outbound calling program are the metrics that you will be holding the individuals on the team accountable to on a daily basis.
The management team of your company must determine these KPIs before the recruitment process even begins, because it will be necessary to share the metrics with candidates who are interviewing. Being forthcoming with this information will help you, as the hiring manager, weed through the candidates who are serious about the commitment that it will take to be successful in the role — from those who are interviewing for the job simply to have a job. Diana Winings, OpenView’s Recruitment Support Analyst, has mastered the art of interviewing lead qualification candidates and finding the best of the best for our portfolio companies.
The metrics that we typically advise our expansion stage portfolio companies to to hold their lead qualification specialists to are:
Opportunities generated: 2/day
These metrics obviously will differ from company to company, depending on the knowledge of the segment that is being called into, the quality of the leads, etc. However, for the most part, we have found that these three KPIs make for a very successful program. All of these metrics MUST be recorded in the CRM that the team is using. On a side note, we recommend that our portfolio companies use Salesforce.com. If the activity is not recorded in Salesforce…. it never happened. That is the motto that outbound callers must learn to live by.
So what counts as a call? Simple — a call is a conversation, a voicemail, a hangup, an interaction with an operator/administrator. Basically every time you pick up the phone and dial – it should be recorded in your CRM as a call.
What is a conversation? A conversation is a verbal interaction with someone within your target company who is a.) the decision maker (the goal) or b.) someone who gives you a great deal of information about the decision maker (contact info, personality, schedule, etc), buying process, and/or the type of software/services that the company is currently using that is competitive with what your business offers.
Finally, what is an opportunity? Generating opportunities is the most important aspect of a lead qualifier’s role. Again, the definition of an opportunity can vary by business, however OpenView’s recommendations of opportunity criteria are:
- The decision maker has communicated a pain point which your software/solution can help solve
- The value proposition has been communicated to the lead
- There is a need to buy within the next 90 days
- The decision maker is open to the next step — a call/demo with the Account Executive
There is no doubt about it — cold calling is a tough role. However, as the CEO or executive team member of a growing business, if you have designed a program where the goals and metrics are clear to your team from the get-go, you have quality content to support the effort, and you have found ways to keep your hires motivated (quarterly bonuses for opportunities generated for example), you have a greater chance of seeing positive results (aka hot opportunities that actually close) from this initiative.