Tracking sales KPIs is a foundational element of effective sales management.
It’s through the appropriate selection and subsequent tracking of these metrics, that sales managers can determine if their approach is having the expected effect on the team and their number.
The problem with traditional sales KPIs is that they are usually backwards-facing (e.g. ‘closed revenue’). Meaning that they can only inform us whether or not those efforts have been effective, after the fact.
Which is why many organisations are instead focusing on new ways to track and drive ‘leading’ KPIs. These are the steps that contribute to the achievement of our more traditional measures (such as closed revenue). They are also the telltale signs that alert us if we’re running off course.
Leading KPIs are Challenging to Measure
The difficulty with leading KPIs is that they’re often hard to measure.
Seasoned users of Salesforce will tell you, it takes a lot of time and significant meddling with the system in order to do it.
Even with a capable Salesforce architect or a time-rich Sales Ops person to hand, we have to make do with tracking the very basic, activity-based signals the platform can produce.
Maybe we can see a surge in the number of opportunities created. Perhaps our win rate has improved this month. ‘Amazing’, we think, ‘we’re set to meet our revenue target!’
However, we still need to go a level deeper to understand why that has happened – and we definitely want to understand why. Only by understanding our success, do we have a chance of replicating it.
So we start looking at the activities that our reps undertook that particular month that made them so successful.
Did they make more calls? Were there just more willing prospects in the pipeline? Was their timing better?
And here is where it starts to get tricky.
We may be able to see the volume of activity that is happening, but we can’t see defining qualities like timing, cadence or even intent.
Enter a new layer of granularity beyond ‘leading KPIs’; the ‘sales behaviour’.
In the CRM world a ‘sales activity’ translates as the recording of a simple action undertaken by a rep, no matter of the actual benefit on the final outcome.
So, for example, recording the placement of 80 sales calls in a day might be considered a positive achievement. Even if 70% of those calls ended up being conversations with answering machines.
On the other hand, a sales behaviour takes into account more meaningful elements like cadence, intent and sequence. Providing a clearer indication of the impact on our targets.
For example, focusing on behaviours can tell us, of those 80 calls our rep made, which lasted for more than 10 minutes? Did they manage to speak to the identified buyer? Was the call related to an opportunity closing this quarter?
To illustrate the point further, let’s use football as an analogy.
If our target is to: Win the Match
Our leading KPI would be: Score Goals
Therefore, to score goals, we’d need to drive more of these behaviours:
Shots on target
Crosses into the box
In Sales, this would translate to:
Goal: Close Revenue & Hit Target
A Leading KPI might be: Increase Number of Opportunities
Relevant sales behaviours would then be:
Qualify New Leads in less than 48 hours
Create New Opportunities
Open Opportunities in each pipeline stage
These are the sort of high-value sales behaviours that drive success. And if we can track them, we can motivate more of them.
Having visibility into this sort of data can help us hugely impact not just our sales results, but also the everyday management of our sales team.
By tracking how our reps behave and interact in this way, we can start identifying things like:
– High performers with conversion challenges
– Successful closers with process deficiencies
– Core performers with clear skill gaps
– Training needs
– Process bottlenecks
– Pipeline quality
– Data quality
– Team engagement issues
– Customer or employee attrition risks
What rings true for every business is the need to have a true hold on your situation. To deeply understand and have a way of measuring effectiveness and success for your team.
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