Sales Metrics: Vanity vs. KPIs

Sales success looks vastly different to different people.

To a sales rep, success is hitting this month’s number – even if it’s at the very last second. To a sales manager, success is reaching an overall team revenue goal. To a Sales VP, success means consistently growing sales revenue over time, according to company-wide goals. Though these definitions of sales success have a lot in common, the numbers look very different. It’s all a matter of perspective.

But are those sales numbers your team is so focused on a true indicator of success? Though you may be tracking metrics across your team, you may not be relying on the right metrics. Some metrics are little more than vanity metrics – designed to make you feel great about your team’s progress without giving any real insights into the inner workings of the team.

It’s up to you to separate the easy-to-love vanity metrics from the tried-and-true Key Performance Indicators. Don’t just congratulate your team on successfully hitting a number – make sure you’re using the KPIs that offer deep actionable insights into your sales process.

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


Activity Levels vs. Call Efficiency

For a sales prospecting team, it’s important to know exactly how many calls each rep is making per day, per week and per month. Many sales teams evaluate prospecting performance solely on these specific activity levels, and don’t realize there are more useful numbers to track. Say you’ve set a goal of 1,000 dials per month for each rep, and you’re pleased that reps are hitting this number consistently. However, you’re surprised to see that even with such a high number of calls, the number of meetings booked hasn’t increased. That’s because tracking activity levels is really just a vanity metric, whereas the KPIs you should be tracking are the efficiency of those activities.

This report shows you how effective your team is in converting a call into a booked meeting. Rather than just tracking the total number of calls made this month, it compares calls to connects, connects to meetings scheduled, and meetings to opportunities sourced. This allows you to see the big picture, and really understand the true performance of your prospecting team in the past month.

Total Bookings vs. Won/Lost Ratios

You may know exactly how much each of your reps has closed in new business this month, but do you know their Win and Loss Ratios throughout the entire sales funnel? Looking at Closed-Won deals is only telling you half of the story. While it’s great for your team to understand what works, the deals your team loses are also potential goldmines for information. If you’re looking to drive improvements in the sales process, you should closely track the metrics that led to Closed-Lost deals.


For example, this report shows that the team is losing the most deals in the Qualification and Present Solution stages at the top of the funnel. These deals spend a much longer time in each stage, and – ultimately – don’t convert. With this knowledge, you can work on improving your win rate and sales cycle in these two stages. Coach your reps to improve their skills in overcoming objections at the top of the funnel, pushing deals into the next stage more quickly, and offering better demos to prospects. By driving even just a 5% improvement in these two stages, you could see a huge boost in your total revenue. Rather than just patting yourself on the back for your successes, you can learn from your failures to improve your team.


Total Pipeline vs. Pipeline Flow

You’re confident that your team is in great shape for next quarter, with more than $5 million in deals currently open in the pipeline. If your goal is to close just $1 million next month, that pipeline feels very comfortable. However, the total value is a complete vanity metric. Just because you have a huge pipeline value today doesn’t mean all of those deals are going to close this month, or even close at all.


This report not only shows you the total value of your pipeline, but also the stage each opportunity is in. This allows you to predict more accurately which deals will close in the next month, based on the length of your typical sales cycle and your conversion rates through each stage. You see that most of that $5 million in pipeline is in the Qualifying Stage and Present Solution stages. Because you know your KPIs so well, you’re aware that your sales cycle is long, and so very little of that value is likely to close next month. In fact, conversion rates are low, which means most of those opportunities will probably be Close-Lost. With KPIs, that comfortable $5 million in pipeline quickly feels less secure and you realize that the open amount in the later stages of the pipeline is all that matters. This will help your team forecast more accurately, and hit goals more consistently.


It’s time to stop tracking vanity metrics that make you feel happy and start analyzing the sales KPIs that tell the real story. Don’t just measure your success – use metrics to drive improvements across the sales organization and close more deals.