The three most important sales success metrics are the ones that let you know you are on track to make your sales plan—or not—before it’s too late. When we engage with a prospective client, one of the first questions we cover is the subject of this post. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that we hear metrics such as Performance to Quota, Win Ratio, and Sales Cycle Length. While these metrics are important in understanding a sales organization’s past performance, the metrics are lagging metrics (or indicators); in other words, they reflect what is in the rearview mirror. Think of them as the score of the game without insight as to how you got to the score.
From our perspective, sales success metrics should focus on leading indicators.
For example, if one of your organization’s key sales plan elements is to increase the number of $250,000+ opportunity wins from 20 to 40, you might consider measuring the number of $250,000+ opportunities making it to the proposal stage. If your win ratio is 25%, you’d need to propose 160 opportunities in the year to get to 40 won opportunities. So your leading success metric would be the number of $250,000+ opportunities making it to proposal. The math is simple, but how exactly your sales organization would double the number of proposals is an entirely different matter, and that’s where the success metrics should reside.
The right leading sales success metrics set clear, Technicolor targets and help highlight the specific sales (and/or marketing) activities needed to deliver results. When your sales leaders understand what needs to get done, and your organization measures what is or is not getting done, the likelihood of successful execution of your sales plan improves dramatically.