There is a world of metrics available to you as a sales leader for measuring your sales team. You might have infinite appetite for metrics in order to analyze your team’s performance. Yet it is critical that you limit the number of metrics that you use incorporate into your Salesforce metrics reporting since your reps and managers can only focus on so many metrics at once.

Here’s a framework for choosing the sales performance metrics that are right for your organization.

(For even more detailed information about sales metrics, check out our FREE eBook: The Right Metrics for Your Inside Sales Team.)


1. Inspect what you expect

First and foremost, focus your attention on the Salesforce metrics that align best to your team’s and company’s strategy. Is your company trying to aggressively grow? Focus more on pipeline metrics. Is your company investing heavily in a new product? Focus on your product related metrics, like conversion rates from your demo opportunity stage. Is your team transitioning to higher ticket sales? Filter down your data to just that market segment.

Be smart about choosing and inspecting Salesforce metrics that encourage the behavior you expect from your sales team. Those metrics shouldn’t be the same old ones you’ve used in the past or at your old job. They need to be metrics that relate directly to the behavior you want to reward in your organization.

2. Leading vs. Lagging Indicators

Sales has long been the most easily measured portion of an organization. Why? Because their performance maps most easily to the most critical metrics a company tracks: bookings and revenue.

Individual sales people can be – and almost always are – measured based on these kinds of Salesforce metrics. It is their primary goal.

But these key business metrics have a counter-balance: tactical measures. Tactical metrics are ones that measure the work being done in support of meeting the business goals. Examples of tactical measures might be “Number of Prospect Meetings”, “Number of Demos”, “Number of Emails Sent”, “Number of Leads Worked” and so forth. They are a measure of the tangible activities being completed by the sales reps. These Salesforce metrics measure the work that typically needs to be done to realize the business outcome of closed business.

Why use these tactical measures? It comes down to the difference between leading indicators and lagging indicators.

A lagging indicator measures performance in hindsight. You only get a lagging indicator after the results are in. The quarter is over and the bookings report is delivered. It shows historic performance.

Tactical measures, on the other hand, act as leading indicators. They help to predict future performance. Will we close enough next month if our reps haven’t been working many leads this month? Probably not.

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You obviously need to measure your key business metrics. But those tend to be lagging indicators. Therefore its critical to add leading indicators to the mix. Otherwise you are in the dark with respect to the future performance of your business.

3. Conversion Rates and Ratios vs. Raw Counts

Raw counts are simple and well understood. They answer questions like “How much?” and “How many?” They are the starting point when selecting metrics. “How much money is in our pipeline?” “How many deals did we book?” “How many calls did we make?”

Raw counts are obviously critical for judging overall performance (like amount booked) and the effort being exerted by your sales reps (number of calls made, number of meetings held).

But conversion rates and ratios tell a second side to the story and need to be incorporated into your measurement approach. A conversion rate measures the percentage from one stage of a sales process to the next.”What percentage of Demos were won?” “What percentage of Prospect Meetings progressed to Trial?” These conversion rates can be measured for different steps in your process. Why are they useful? You can use conversion rates to identify the weakness in your process. Even if a particular rep is doing a low volume of deals because they’re ramping up, you can assess how well they will do when they are running at full speed based on their conversion rates. Are they strong in one area vs. another? The conversion rates will tell you. Conversion rates are the key foundational element for assessing your sales funnel.

Another example: are you better off making 30 well researched calls or 60 less researched calls? Somewhere in between? Your conversion rates will help to tell you.

Ratios can serve a similar purpose as conversion rates. Ratios can be used when measuring different activities that can occur in parallel. If a rep has a choice between sending emails and calling prospects, how should they divide their effort? Examining the ratios for the successful reps of calls-made-to-emails-sent will help to answer that question.

4. Metrics Measurement Frequency

Different Salesforce metrics are better suited to being calculated at different frequencies. Do we measure something daily? Weekly? Monthly?

The key criteria for choosing the frequency of calculating a metric is the length of your sales cycle and the volume with which your key metrics occur. If your sales cycle is long, you might have a key activity metric like “Prospect Meeting Held” that you want to track, but they only happen a few times a week, at best. In that case, you should consider measuring that metric weekly or monthly.

On the other hand, if you are running an inside sales team who are making 30 calls every day, you have enough data to measure the your reps’ activities on a daily basis.

Be mindful of having enough data for your measurement period. Otherwise, the communication of those metrics will be ignored by your organization. Your team will get used to seeing sparse, meaningless data and will train themselves to ignore the metric. With higher volumes of data, comes greater ability to assess leading indicators, with greater frequency.

How do you decide on which Salesforce metrics to measure when doing your reporting?

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Magnifying glass photo courtesy of flickr user Images_of_Money.

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