For relative newcomers to sales analytics and marketing metrics, the whole endeavor might seem overwhelming. That first deep dive into your data might leave you gasping for air, as you try to make sense of all these new concepts and heretofore foreign lingo.

Well fear not! We’re here to help guide you through your initial venture into sales analytics and marketing metrics. Just as any kindergartener starts off his or her formal education by learning their A-B-C’s, so will you. With this basic foundational knowledge under your belt, you can then jump in further and really unleash the true power of sales analytics.

Here are the A-B-C’s of sales analytics and marketing metrics.

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


A – Activities

Sales managers are inherently interested in the activities of their sales reps but with the help of analytics, they can get a total grasp of not only what their reps are doing but how efficiently they are performing. Some managers track the raw activities (i.e. how many calls a rep makes each day, week and month); others go a step further by tracking the conversion ratios of these activities (i.e. how many calls produce meetings scheduled, how many meetings scheduled lead to deals) in order to identify their most efficient sales reps and activities.

B – Bookings

Sales is all about closing as many deals and making as many bookings as possible. Sales VPs need visibility into not just how their bookings are doing this month-to-date, but how their bookings are trending over time for the entire sales team. This report will provide a critical overview of whether the sales team is heading in the right direction.

C – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

Many sales organizations use CRM software – like Salesforce – to help organize and keep track of their various accounts and opportunities. Sales reps should be trained on the proper data entry process and what information they are expected to log for every opportunity they work on. However, note that CRM software is limited in its analysis and reporting capabilities.

D – Deep dive

The thing about analytics is that while surface-level overviews might be interesting and open the eyes of newly exposed sales managers, the true actionable insights to be gained lie deeper beneath the surface. Managers looking to enact actual positive change in how they run their sales teams need to really dive into the data and look for emerging trends.

E – Engagement

An opportunity that has not been engaged with by a sales rep in some time will lose momentum and be less likely to close. One key report that sales managers can benefit from is the Pipeline Today report, which not only charts every open opportunity within the time period, but also measures the level of engagement that each opportunity has seen in recent times. The larger the bubble, the more effort has been expended on that specific opportunity.

F – Forecasting

One of the greatest benefits of sales analytics is the chance to measure predictable revenue – after all, a sales manager that can accurately determine how their team will do this month, quarter or year can better plan accordingly. Traditional sales forecasts rely heavily on the intuition of sales reps to determine which opportunities will close; data-driven sales forecasting, on the other hand, takes into account current pipeline opportunities and historical conversion rates to produce a much more accurate sales forecast.

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G – Growth

Data is great, but visualized data is even better, especially when these various reports are all up and to the right, indicating what every sales manager strives for – growth. With the proper application of sales analytics and the actionable insights it reveals, sales managers should be able to grow and improve every aspect of their sales process, from the number of opportunities in the pipeline to the number of bookings closed.

H – History

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and nowhere is this adage more true than in sales analytics. Many actionable insights are derived by looking at what happened yesterday. For instance, if your team’s historical conversion rates at the top of the funnel are anemically low, your sales coaching should be primarily focused on that area, so that your team can improve on its historically poor performances in this area.

I – InsightSquared

The number one Salesforce analytics product for small- and mid-sized businesses. Unlike legacy business intelligence platforms, InsightSquared can be deployed affordably in less than a day and comes preloaded with reports that real business people can use to maximize sales performance, increase team productivity and close more deals. (And back to our regularly scheduled alphabet lesson after this brief message.)

J – Justification

For every action you take as a sales manager, there should be a justification that is buttressed by data. The numbers and findings from your deep dive into sales analytics should govern your decisions. Before enacting changes, or even continuing with the status quo, make sure there is sufficient justification for doing so provided by the data.

K – Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Before diving into sales analytics, sales managers should know which KPIs and sales performance metrics they want to track on their team. This could include activity metrics (number of activities, efficiency), pipeline metrics (pipeline coverage, historical trends) and retrospective closed sales analysis (sales funnel, sales cycle, bookings trend). Pick the ones that are most important for your business and that will provide you with the most actionable insights.

L – Lead Trajectory

Both marketing and sales managers need to know where the team stands in terms of lead generation – if there are not enough leads being created, there will be insufficient opportunities in the pipeline for reps to work on. The Lead Trajectory report shows all the leads your team has generated in a given time period in an ascending waterfall, with separate breakdowns by lead sources. The report also allows managers to gauge themselves against historical trajectories and the current time period’s goal, to see if they are on track or well off the pace.

M – Marketing Campaigns

Do you know which of your marketing campaigns are most effective in terms of generating the most numbers of leads? How about which ones are most efficient, in terms of delivering the best return on investment? Without diving into the marketing metrics of your campaigns, you won’t be able to answer those two questions, limiting your ability as a marketing manager to deliver the leads that the sales team needs.

N – Nightly Status Email

Sales managers might not have the time to really look over the shoulders of each of their reps to ensure they are expending maximum effort and performing well. This is where the nightly status email – delivered right to the sales manager’s inbox each night – comes in. The email highlights the important activity and pipeline metrics – such as how many dials the team made or what current opportunities they are working on – from the previous day. This ensures full transparency, increased motivation and visibility of progress against goals.

O – Opportunity Changes

If you are only reviewing your current pipeline as it stands today, you are missing a big part of the picture. It is critical for sales managers to track the changes among their opportunities. One reason sales teams miss their start-of-month projection is because close dates have pushed or opportunity values have decreased. Use history tracking to keep track of opportunity changes as they happen.

P – Pipeline Management

Pipeline management is an absolutely critical component of a sales manager’s job. Every Monday morning meeting should begin with a study of the team’s pipeline to identify, collectively, which opportunities are at risk and why. Opportunities that have had their close date pushed back multiple times, have not seen any recent activity, are significantly larger than your average deals and have languished in certain stages are at risk and need to be prioritized.

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Q – Questioning

Analytics provides a great opportunity for you to question everything. Keep questioning the status quo. If something is an accepted norm at your company or within your sales process, make sure to validate it with data. Keep digging deeper and questioning every observation, every hypothesis and every result to ensure that your findings are well-supported by the numbers.

R – Results

Sales is a results-oriented business – the more deals your team closes, the more successful they are. However, instead of accepting results at face value, the onus is on you as a sales manager to dive deeper and figure out why these results happen, be they positive or negative. Performing a retrospective closed sale analysis (looking closely at the sales cycle, for example) should unearth great insights that determine your sales decisions going forward.

S – Sales cycle

We could have gone in any direction for the letter ‘S’, but we wanted to shine a light on the sales cycle, an often-ignored aspect of the sales process. Many sales managers might know their average sales cycle, but do they know the difference in sales cycles between opportunities that win compared to those that lose? Knowing this difference and applying those insights could impact the accuracy of your sales forecast while better helping your team prioritize its pipeline opportunities.

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T – Trajectories

A big part of sales analytics is all about looking at both current and historical trajectories. Are you on pace to reach this month’s lead generation goal? Is your bookings trajectory for the month surpassing your typical month? What about over a longer period of time? Is the historical trajectory for this current reporting year improving month-over-month?

U – Sales fUnnel

Ok, so we fudged a little on this one. It is crucial for sales managers to analyze their sales fUnnel, regardless of which letter we capitalize. Looking at the historical conversion rates at each stage of the sales funnel can reveal where the team’s weaknesses are in the sales process. If there is a high conversion rate between the first two stages, followed by a sharp drop-off at the next stage, managers need to take action. Do reps need better coaching at the second level? Or should they be more stringent in qualifying opportunities at the top?

V – Visibility

Do a survey of the sales managers you know that aren’t working with sales analytics. How many of them truly have full, 360-degree visibility into everything that is going on within their sales team and sales process? Chances are, very few (or even none of them!) will. Sales analytics provides that type of visibility and transparency, ensuring that nothing – from a risky opportunity to an underperforming rep – passes through your radar unnoticed.

W – Win Rates

Quite simply, how many of your opportunities do you win? Is this number increasing over time as your team becomes more adept at selling? Which time period saw the best win rate? As you grow your number of opportunities, is your win rate being affected?

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X – eXamine

Similarly for the need to question everything, sales managers with the power of sales analytics at their fingertips are responsible for examining every part of their sales process, from the lead generation beginnings of marketing through the pipeline management and sales funnel in the meat of the sales process, all the way through the retrospective closed sale examination.

Y – Year-to-Date

Setting goals – which every sales organization does, in the form of monthly quotas or quarterly numbers – requires tracking your team’s progress against those goals. Having a trend goal line on your lead generation, bookings results or any other metric can help you measure your progress in that department for the year-to-date, determining if you need to do anything different to get on pace or simply maintain the status quo.

Z – Strike Zone

Imagine being able to use historical data and performances to predict current and future sales success. That’s what the Strike Zone report allows, plotting all your open opportunities on a graph with a heat map showing your team’s win rate on similar historical opportunities. Opportunities in the green zone – graphed against total age versus value – are more likely to be won than those in the red zone.

Strike Zone

Now you know your A-B-C’s (of sales analytics), next time won’t you dive deep in with me!

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