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Sales managers can create a dashboard in our system for any activity type they want. For example, we ourselves track:

  • Connects
  • Demos
  • Trial Delivery
  • Trial Followup
  • Proposals
  • Close

One of the common activity types that’s conspicuously missing from this list is “Emails Sent,” a metric that is popular with sales (micro)managers.

While you can track anything you want…should you? Is “Emails Sent” a valuable sales metric to track? We don’t think so.

Here are two tests we would recommend to in deciding which activity types to track in your dashboards:

Test 1: Does +1 Matter?

If a salesperson did one less or one more of that activity type, would you care?

Activity Dashboard
For example, this team (screenshot, right) tracks Internal Submissions (“IS”) as a key activity type. The first employee in the list has done 9 submissions month-to-date, up 4 from the equivalent range last month.

As a sales manager, do I care that the top employee in the list has done +4 versus last month? Yes! For this kind of company (a staffing firm), Submissions are key to the sales process because each additional Submission has a chance to convert into revenue for the company.

Conversely, do I care that the same employee sent 255 emails, +94 from the previous month? If they had sent 255+1=256 instead, would I care? No. “Emails Sent” is data but not useful data, because it doesn’t translate either directly or indirectly into sales for the company. These emails could be anything, from confirming a phone meeting, to shooting the breeze about the last Patriots game. 94 additional emails are effectively meaningless.

Test 2: Does The Conversion Rate Matter?

Does the ratio between that activity type and the next matter?

Conversion Ratios
For some sales activities, the answer is clearly yes. In the example data set to the right, the ratio of Sendouts to to Interviews helps this company identify the quality of their sendouts and how easy (or difficult!) a client is to work with.

There is a direct “flow” from one activity type to another. Both Sendouts and Interviews are necessary steps in the sales process for this company. Some quantity of Sendouts will convert into Interviews.

Conversely, Emails can happen at any time during the sales process. Again, a sales person could trade 10 emails just trying to figure out where to get lunch. They are a tool of the sales process, not a phase within it. Thus, the conversion ratio of Emails to anything else would not make sense.

If the conversion ratio to another activity is not relevant, then that’s a signal that this activity is not a critical step in your sales flow. You might as well measure how many cups of coffee someone has. Might be more telling.


Samuel Clemens
Sam is founder and chief of product & marketing for InsightSquared. Previously, Sam was VP Product at HubSpot, VP Product at BzzAgent, and on the founding team at His background also includes venture capital with Greylock Partners, the Algorithms group at, and management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton. Sam has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Applied Math from Yale. In his off time he dives shipwrecks in the New England area.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Phil Polson

    You are quite right guys certain matters are a waste of time checking. However, I would advise regularly checking the wording of the emails though. Every document, sent by someone in contact with the client is still contributing towards the overall sales effort.

  • Samuel Clemens

    Good point Phil – thanks!

  • Don

    I have to disagree. In this day and age where email is rapdingly taking the place of phone calls – it is sent emails that are the baseline level of effort to measure in recruiting. In your own example – that person that sent out 94 more emails ended up with 4 more submittals. Email is where it all starts! If that number (emails sent) is low then submittals, interviews and placements will also be low. Measuring sent email and then also comparing volumes of top producers vs. others is also telling. Measuring a recruiters volume of email month over month is also telling (are they really working as hard each month?). Of course there are ways to game this system … but if you have employees emailing 10 times about where to go to lunch – that is a whole other issue. Happy Hunting 😉

    Don Catino
    Digital Prospectors Corp

  • Samuel Clemens

    Good point about emails replacing calls. As you mentioned, if they are emailing about lunch then that isn’t going to impact the submissions metric you want to increase. Also, emails could occur at various places in the process, which makes an email::submissions ratio difficult. Given both of those issues, why not just track submissions?

  • Don

    Don’t get me wrong – the main thing we track is placements – every other data point is only complimentary. However, my whole point of tracking emails sent is to get an insight into the overall level of effort by our recruiting staff each month. As you know – sometimes even with the best effort we don’t come up with placements. Sometimes we all have a bad month – even when we’re working our hardest. This is particularly true with new recruiters. So in the absence of submittals, interviews and placements – we look at emails sent to see that the effort is where it should be. I can be a lot more patient with a recruiter who isn’t making placements as long as I can see that they are trying their hardest (by seeing their sent emails). Conversely – there are times when recruiters make a lot of placements w/o trying that hard (lower email sent compared to other months). So even though they are making their quota, I still want to talk to them about why they didn’t work as hard as in months past and make even more placements. In this way tracking email sent keeps everyone honest and working hard and eliminates the ability to ‘coast’ after placement quotas are made.

  • Samuel Clemens

    So, it sounds like you are using Submissions as a leading indicator of Placements, and Emails as a leading indicator of Submissions. I think that’s great (the more leading indicators the better!) when you can make them reliable and useful for you. Sounds like you have a well-run shop.
    Best, Sam

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