Today’s Metric: Leads Worked in the Pipeline
One of the tenants identified in “The Science of Building a Scalable Sales Team” is to “work leads with the same process every time.” Creating a scalable sales team requires am empirical process that is replicable as your sales team grows.
The article continues that when deciding how to efficiently assign and work leads with “just a handful of sales people,” using nothing more than “gut feel” can seem like an “adequate approach.” The scientific aspect becomes more appropriate on teams with “hundreds of sales people.”
But at InsightSquared, we don’t shoot for just adequate. And we don’t expect you too either.
Pairing a consistent, repeated process with a metric like Worked Leads is key for objectively manage your pipeline. It not only helps to measure effort of your sales reps, but it also can be used to align Sales and Marketing. Let’s dig in.
Definition of Worked Leads
First, let’s get clear on the definition of a worked lead.
Your company can have interaction with a lead in various forms. But the worked lead metric is measuring the sales activities associated to the lead, specifically your sales person’s activities. A “worked lead” is any lead into which one of your sales reps has put effort, with the purpose of converting them to a real a sales opportunity.
Worked Leads as a metric is a leading indicator of the quality of your pipeline. At its most basic form, it measures the amount of effort your sales team is putting in. Are they working a lot of leads? Are they working more leads than they typically do? Less leads?
But the metric doesn’t just measure effort. Worked Leads measures the activities of your sales team. But specifically it measures where they are placing their efforts relative to the leads that marketing is presenting to them. As such, it becomes a key metric for measuring the relationship between Sales and Marketing. If your sales team is working fewer leads, it might be because they are putting in less effort overall. But it might also be that the quality of the leads being presented to them has gone down (or simply the quantity) and as such they are left putting their efforts in other areas.
Paired with a consistent sales process, leads worked can be used both as a measure of the volume your team’s efforts and as a measure of the quality of your collaboration with marketing.
Sample Uses of the Leads Worked Metric
Take the guesswork out of working your leads by understanding the effort that your team is putting into moving leads down the pipeline. While closing opportunities in the sales funnel is sexier, working leads is the dirty work in the trenches that sets up the closes.
Working leads is a leading indicator of how your future sales pipeline will shape up. Without putting in the effort to move leads to opportunities, your opportunity funnel will be very, very quiet.
Overall Count Over Time
The primary method to measure the level of effort put forth by your team is to bucket your leads based on overall count. This is a month by month (or whichever time frame you choose) breakdown of your leads by lead status. Stacking bar charts side by side visualizes the net growth or decrease of leads in particular statuses.
If you see your Worked Leads count increasing, you are likely getting more leads month over month and are keeping up, to some degree. But there might be some gotchas. We’ll get into that when talking about the “By Lead Age Breakdown”.
If you see your Worked Leads count plateauing, you should dig in further. Are you getting more leads month over month and your team can’t effectively keep up? Are you getting more leads, but avoiding low quality leads that should be worked? Is it time to scale your team up to take advantage of these leads?
And if you see your Worked Leads going down, you really want to dig in. Has Marketing dropped the number of new leads it is providing? Is your team distracted or feeling the impact of attrition? A reduced number of leads being worked is an early indicator of a weakness in your sales pipeline. You might have a problem that requires short-term action to turn around before it becomes critical.
By Lead Age Breakdown
Effectively assigning and working leads sets your team on the right path for closing deals. One of the biggest inhibitors to successfully converting leads into opportunities is the total time that leads age in your team’s queue. This is why actively monitoring leads worked in your pipeline is so important to improving your close percentage. Of the leads worked in a particular timeframe, how old are the leads that are being worked?
First, this can help you identify whether you are rapidly picking up new leads and working the hot ones.
Second, the age of leads is a measure of your lead quality. If your marketing team is presenting new leads, but the sales team is putting significant effort in working much older leads, it is an indicator that the sales team might be finding low quality leads in the queue of new leads and as such are putting their efforts into mining the older cohorts of leads for potential deals.
So when I mentioned some “gotchas” around being happy with increasing counts of leads worked, this is one of them. You might be working more leads month-over-month not because you are increasing your productivity but rather because your team is lightly working new leads and diving deeper into your queue of older leads.
By Employee Breakdown
Bucketing your leads worked by employees gives you another effort metric to measure your reps on. But similar to measuring activities and activity goals, you don’t want to incentivize working leads. This activity should be an expectation for a hungry rep. If a rep struggles to close deals, you may have to look upstream to how, and the amount of time the rep spends with moving leads into opportunities. Breaking down your employees effort is a great talking point for one-on-one meetings for measuring whether they are putting in the up-front effort needed to have a full pipeline and executing on consistent processes.
By Lead Creation Date Breakdown
Typically, with your “over time” measurement of worked leads, you’ll group the leads by the date leads were worked. But if you are trying to answer about changes in your marketing efforts, you’ll want to group the leads based on when they were created. Maybe you changed your marketing strategy, mixing in more paid vs. organic leads. Looking at worked leads, grouped by the creation date of those leads, will help you answer that question.
By Lead Source Breakdown
One of the best ways for your sales team to prioritize leads is by their source. Inbound leads should be your team’s first priority, always. They came to you seeking more information. Sometimes they want a product demo, other times they just wanted more information in an eBook. Clearly these two leads are at different stages – one is ready to buy, the other is not. Look to ensure that you are working your high-priority lead sources first, over your lower priority leads.
Returning to the article, “The Science of Building a Scalable Sales Team”, it talks about “scalable, predictive revenue growth.” At the core of this philosophy is testing and exploring. The author says, “We meddle constantly. We are forever poking at the numbers, prodding the data to tell us more: What’s working, why it’s working, and how we can do better to build a better company.”
Sales will not be perfect the first time or every month, but improving sales team requires understanding the numbers driving the growth. Improvement comes from consistent execution on the sales floor in combination with exploration of the numbers: finding an aberration and digging deeper with more analysis to get a stronger explanation. And once you have that explanation, putting a solution into place rapidly.
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