Key performance indicators critical to the effective management of your team
by John Griscavage

In the past four issues, I have discussed several ways to improve sales performance, from methods on hiring and retaining top talent to developing patient stories to connect with your referral sources. In this issue, I want to discuss Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are critical to the effective management of your team. While there are a near-infinite number of metrics you could consider, I have chosen to only discuss the three that were most beneficial for me when I was managing a high-performance HME sales team. I have also outlined how accountability and the use of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution were drivers to our success. Accurately tracking and reviewing these KPIs will provide you with the information you need to drive sales growth in your organization.

1. How many visits are your sales reps making each day?

Often, underperforming salespeople are not making enough daily visits. This may indicate a lack of confidence on their part, or a lack of understanding on what it takes to build and sustain long-term business relationships. The number of visits a rep makes each day is the best indicator of whether or not the appropriate attention is being paid to your referral sources. In general, a sales rep should be able to make seven to 10 sustentative visits per day.

If a sales rep is having regular 30-minute calls with a doctor who is not referring to her, then there has to be a disconnect somewhere. The calls might be too social, and the rep may just lack the ability to turn the conversation in a professional direction; or she could simply not be making the calls she claims to be making. By regularly monitoring a rep's daily visits, you can determine how effective those visits are and ensure that she is maximizing the use of her time. In addition, each account should be given a rating (generally A, B or C) that determines the frequency that your sales rep should call on that referral source. Remember: You are paying sales reps for their time, so it is essentially your time. Protect your investment by monitoring how that time is being spent.

2. How many referrals are reps bringing in each month?

The number of referrals a salesperson brings in each month is a testament to her ability to effectively communicate the value of your products and services, as well as her ability to build trust with your referring physicians. It still amazes me how many HME providers are not monitoring this number as if their company depends on it—because, quite frankly, it does.

By reviewing monthly referral metrics with your sales team and intake managers, you can determine where a new strategy is required to continue growth, while also revising or suspending efforts that are not providing value. This transparency will also motivate your sales team to perform at the optimal level, as they do not want to be responsible for a lack of new business.

3. How is each salesperson performing against his or her monthly and quarterly goals?

Goals are one of, if not the, most critical part of getting the best return on your investment when it comes to your sales team. Baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." Without a clear set of expectations for salespeople to aspire to, they are most likely aiming for whatever they feel is a valid expectation. Potentially, that could be a number of sales far greater than what you expect, but more often, it is a number far lower than required to meet your broader business goals.

Once you have each sales rep's goal in place, you have to monitor the progress he or she is making. Identify how many referrals a rep has halfway through the month and, with that in mind, how many you can expect by month's end. If a rep has just one referral by the end of the third week of the month, you cannot expect her to get 19 more in the last week. Monitoring goals will ensure that you are providing your sales team with the tools and coaching they need to be successful.

4. Is your sales team accountable for their contributions to your revenue?

A completely self-motivated salesperson can come in and help lead a company to success. However, it is very unlikely this will happen without some kind of system of accountability. It is vital you create a level of transparency to ensure that success is public knowledge in your company. If sales reps are underperforming, accountability will help motivate them to perform at a higher level. If they are exceeding expectations, then recognition of their performance not only keeps your top performers happy, but also inspires your entire team.

This is not specifically a KPI, but instead a reason to increase visibility of your KPIs to make the continued success of your organization something that each employee is personally invested in. An O2 setup cannot be placed without a doctor's referral, and if orders are not coming in, there is a company-wide problem that needs to be corrected. Accountability can dramatically change the way a salesperson performs, and it can motivate a below-average rep to become a superstar.

5. How can a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) system help?

Nothing is more valuable to you or your employees than time. Gathering KPIs and storing them in one place can be a burden for which many companies do not have a solution. Without a firm grasp on your salespeople's continued performance, you are hoping they will deliver what you are paying them for. Not having a reasonable solution for this data or not having an accessible place to store it is often a costly mistake.

A well-implemented CRM not only tracks sales, salesperson activity and performance goals, but it also provides predictive insights on the kind of performance you can expect to have in the future. While a CRM is an indispensible tool when it comes to understanding historical events, its illumination of quarterly and yearly trends will also help you plan for the future. If you received 15 sales of a specific product last year, and 14 sales the year before that, you can forecast what this year's sales will be if all the conditions remain the same. What if sales plummet to seven or eight placements for the year? You can use the data captured in the system to see what changed from last year to the current year.

The mobile functionality that a CRM provides will also save your sales team time and increase their communication in the field. Gaining visibility to the dates and times they receive orders, when products and services are delivered and important notes about the care provided will help your salespeople effectively monitor their relationships with both the patient and the referral source. By applying the CRM to their day-to-day activity, they will create better reports that will highlight their successes and keep them focused on the services you are paying them to provide and the results they are expected to deliver.

This article is the final in a five-part series. Each segment focused on best business practices and relevant HME topics. Read other articles in this series here.

Have questions or comments? The author wants to hear your patient stories and how they have impacted your agency. Contribute to the conversation online through PlayMaker's social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) or subscribe to their blog.