BC Startup Sales Podcast – Building Success Metrics for Early Sales Teams with Jenn Etherton (Klara)
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Jenn Etherton, Head of Sales at Klara, to discuss “Building Success Metrics for Early Sales Teams.” Klara offers a secure healthcare communication platform that helps everyone along a patient’s journey communicate more efficiently thus improving patient outcomes. Though founded in 2013, Klara already has over an 80% patient adoption rate and over half a million users.
Before jumping into the topic, Jenn began with her personal story as an account executive who transitioned into working in sales for early stage companies and from there side-stepped into Klara unexpectedly after meeting the company’s founders and connecting with their vision.
Because companies that are just getting started don’t have a lot of sales data to begin with, setting goals for their reps can be difficult. With that in mind, Jenn gave four recommendations that startups should consider as they put in place success metrics for early sales teams:
1. Start At The Top Of The Funnel. Before you begin measuring sales reps success meaningfully, make sure you’re sufficiently focused on sourcing leads. You can set metrics all day long, but if you don’t have the leads to begin with, the sales won’t be there.
2. Make Sure The Goals You’re Setting Align. Early-stage companies need to make sure their metrics for evaluating sales reps’ success align with the company’s focus. For early-stage companies, the goals are usually customer acquisition and customer success so goals should be aligned with that. As the company grows and begins segmenting its sales org, make sure the overall goals remain consistent. While SDRs and AEs might have different specific focuses and metrics for evaluating their performance, make sure the sales org as a whole is working together to hit a broader goal – revenue for example.
3. Build Your Data Quickly. It’s never too soon to start collecting data, and while you shouldn’t expect industry standards across your metrics immediately, data should be collected and used to determine what the overall sales org should be focused on to improve. Without this data, decisions are based more off instinct, which, though in some cases successful, is usually outperformed by data-driven decision making.
4. Find Out What Motivates Your Employees. Sales reps can be driven by many different things, and in order to maximize their productivity, it’s best to understand what individual contributors are after. Once you know what that is, Jenn explained that setting expectations is key. But, expectations must be very realistic and based on the company’s individual goals. Sales reps should understand the growth strategy of the company so that they can see where they can fit in. To best achieve this, Jenn recommends developing a personal development plan with each employee.
Jenn concluded by explaining how else these personal development plans can be used. For example, if an employee wants to be a manager, Jenn will often set that employee up first as a mentor to a new hire so that they can get a taste what that position might be like. She firmly believes in this model because it allows employees to hone their leadership skills and, in the event that they might prefer a traditional sales rep role, the model also lets employees self-select out if they realize managing is not what they’re interested in.
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Jenn Atherton currently serves as Head of Sales at Klara and focuses on improving efficiency in healthcare communication. Jenn has a lot of experience working at early-stage companies, and was previously the Head of Sales at Zapper and DipJar and Head of Inside Sales at WayUp. Prior to those roles, she was Strategic Account Executive at Livingsocial and Snagajob. Jenn is uniquely qualified to talk about building success metrics for early sales teams. She graduated Longwood University with a degree in business administration.