The Most Important Sales Metrics You’re Not Tracking @DeidreWM

October 25, 2017 Jennifer Wyne

The Sales analytics category has exploded in recent years, both in number and diversity. A recent industry round-up listed 50+ providers, and the list continues to grow. Metrics are the bedrock of any sales function (in fact, one could argue that no enterprise function is tracked, measured and analyzed more than sales!)

But not all data is created equal. Sales leaders have been well trained over the past decade to believe that when it comes to data, more is better. In fact, with the growth of CRM, sales professionals have become overrun with data – mostly lagging indicators like activity levels or close rates. The problem is that these are all things that, once reported, are simply too late to impact.

Rather than just hiring more “A” players, sales leaders need to find new ways, supported by data, to improve the performance of the salespeople they already have. (And even small improvements can yield big gains: research shows that at little as a 5% gain from the middle performers in your sales team can yield 70% more revenue.)

So given the challenges with “rear-view” data, what should sales managers be measuring to impact the future performance of their sales people and help more of their team reach the top of the leaderboard? Here are 3 key sales metrics you may be missing:

1. Sales Proficiency (Knowledge & Skills)

Believe it or not, many managers don’t stop to consider what each of their sales reps is actually prepared to bring to every customer interaction. We don’t mean memorizing a script, or the “sales theater” involved in most canned demos and sales presentations. We’re talking about your reps’ ability to add real value during the customer’s buying process, and the sales cycle itself – from first meeting all the way to close.

Real sales skills go beyond simple metrics like number of calls completed or number of deals closed, and they can and should be measured and managed proactively. Over a period of several months, metrics like win rate and quota attainment can offer a general picture of your reps’ sales performance. But what if you could know sooner — and, even better — impact the end result?

The ability to achieve this has two parts: first, understanding with data, where your team’s proficiency level is today (what they know and don’t know, where their strengths and weaknesses are) and second, having a proven methodology to change their behavior before revenue and customer relationships are at risk.

Qstream’s own solution analyzes and synthesizes thousands of these data points in real-time from your reps’ responses to brief scenario-based challenges. Delivered as a rich set of real-time reports and dashboards, these KPIs are helping revenue leaders and sales enablement pros answer important business questions like “Do we have the right people on our team?” and, “Can I trust the data in my team’s pipeline to generate an accurate forecast?”

2. Coaching Effectiveness & Impact

Managers surveyed by the Sales Management Association rated coaching as the number one most important activity based on impact to sales effectiveness. And they ranked it higher than lead generation, compensation, and sales methodology.

While it makes sense to prioritize coaching, many sales managers do very little of it, never mind measure how effective they are. Why is that? According to the same survey, they said they were just too busy. Some also admitted they didn’t have the skills, data, or tools to coach effectively. So if we want to make this a priority, we need to do two things:

First, give managers the insights they need to deliver good coaching, then measure the effectiveness of that coaching over time. Many execs are turning to technology solutions like Qstream for this. The most critical benefit of our approach is that it effectively engages time-constrained sales managers in the process of coaching on a regular basis, while providing the proficiency and engagement data they need to make coaching tasks both actionable and accountable.

3. Correlation to Sales Performance

There’s one thing you’ll discover immediately when correlating sales capabilities to revenue, and it’s that top performers have one thing common: they’re highly proficient in almost all aspects of their job. And we aren’t just talking about selling skills. Good alignment with your company’s KPIs means that in a given year, you may be focused on one specific component of a sales reps’ job, such as their grasp of your new sales methodology or a new product launch. For other groups or other time periods, it may be expanded to include skills like handling competitive objections, or responding to a recent regulatory change in your market.

Either way, there’s a simple way to correlate this, and it starts with your data. Based on your unique sales process and KPIs, you might select capabilities data, such as proficiency scores related to a particular skill or product set. You can bring in other data, too, like average discounts or deal size. By simply correlating that with the productivity and sales performance data already resident in your CRM system, sales leaders can get a complete view of both past and predictive business outcomes.

For example, you might see that the rep with the biggest pipeline also has the weakest qualification skills. (How confident do you feel about that pipeline now?) Knowing this allows you to not only take a second look at your forecast, but also intervene with that rep to scrub their pipeline and offer some much-needed coaching on early stage deal discovery and qualification.

Companies tracking these often overlooked sales metrics are seeing great returns. In just one example, a U.S.-based security services company was able to increase quota attainment by 30%, improve gross profit by 3%, and reduce sales turn-over by 12%.

The result of any successful sales analytics strategy should be the ability to not just understand the data and its impact on your sales strategy, but to act upon it in a way that moves the needle in your favor. By expanding the types of analytics available, sales leaders can gain new levels of predictability into their people, as well as their future performance.

Today’s post is by guest author, Deidre Moore, Director of Marketing for Qstream, a sales acceleration software that uses science, data, and mobile technology to ignite high-performing teams in minutes a day.

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