Dozens of our sales experts give their advice on the best SMART sales goals to employ with your teams to see more results, and better pipeline performance.
Sales | Mar 31
Belynda Cianci on March 12, 2020 (last modified on March 9, 2020) • 35 minute read
The art of B2B marketing in the digital age is becoming more complex.
In a world where buyers and decision-makers have access to a world of information (offered by you and your competitors) and the buyer’s journey is becoming increasingly noisy, more effort does not always equal better results.
Crafting and tracking solid KPIs becomes more important to the success of your team and organization.
But which metrics deserve your attention: Activity? Retention? Revenue? All can have an impact on your pipeline and your results.
It’s a thorny question, but with the advice of over 60 experts, we’re here to help you uncover the best marketing KPIs for marketing your B2B products and services.
The results are broken down into four major areas of focus:
To learn more about any of these KPI approaches, click the links above, or scroll through to get all the best tips and advice covered throughout the report.
Getting and keeping customers can have a major impact on your ongoing success. They can increase stabilize revenue, expand their use over time, and even bring new prospects to the table through referrals. It’s no surprise then, that many of our experts regarded this area as a high priority for KPI focus.
It all starts with getting your name out there, according to Luke Budka of TopLine Comms who cites brand awareness as a top priority. “Asking prospects if they’ve heard of your company is valuable for several reasons. Firstly, increased B2B competition means top-of-funnel awareness and credibility is more important than ever,” says Budka. “It can be hard to measure the outcomes of B2B public relations campaigns (more often than not you see output measurements instead, like links built and coverage generated), but fundamentally if you see a marked increase in the number of prospects who have heard of your company over a 6-12 month period, then it shows awareness-raising has been effective.”
“Prospects are more likely to buy from companies they’ve heard of, so extending this KPI would see your sales team measuring conversion rates of prospects who have heard of you versus those that haven’t – that’s as close as you’ll get to directly linking public relations to revenue generation.”
One way to check on this, says Sara Morrin of CarPaymentCalculator.net is by keeping tabs on brand-related searches. “Many offline marketing channels are hard to track & increasingly many online channels are also being obfuscated through users who visit sites across devices, the shift to HTTPS, and browser privacy settings in web browsers like Apple Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox.”
Says Morrin. “B2B sales are typically larger purchases and as much as people want to solve problems they also do not want to be the one who switched the company onto something that later caused problems. Thus the more popular something is the less risk it is perceived to have & the more likely people are to find you and the more likely they are to convert when they do.”
Once you have their attention, elevating your brand awareness through high-profile clients can help you evaluate sales reps and boost your brand, says Brett Peterson of Causal iQ, who sets a high bar for logo sales. “So many organizations look at activity or leads generated, but in order to scale an organization, new logos must be a primary focus. Looking at new logos allows you to see which leads were actually ‘sales eligible’ and also which reps are bringing in new business to help scale and grow the organization.”
Many of our experts take a long view of things, looking to customer lifetime value (CLV) as a KPI to strive for. “It adds so much clarity to your attribution model,” says John Morton of Archive Digital Marketing Inc.
Téa Liarokapi of Moosend calls CLV “the one metric that can allow a sales team to make well-rounded decisions and know whether the company’s budget is one that can grow or not… [it is] the only way to know what kind of profit you can potentially make off your customers in the long run and not because of just one order they may or may not place on your website.
Says Liarokapi, “CLTV can also potentially help you with figuring out a loyalty program for your repeaters and perhaps luxury membership programs as well, as it will give you a well-rounded image of your long-term profit.”
Says Natalie Lane of Roger Wes says CLV gives ”sales and marketing both insight into the quality of the lead, sales cycle time estimates and a high-level insight into the value and potential of growing the account (sales) and nurturing the account to prepare for up-selling (marketing). It brings both departments together so they working more closely together. Identify qualified leads, get insight to-true account value and better understand the business as a cohesive unit. It’s also better for your company’s business development culture in which your customers will gain major benefits.”
Khabeer Rockley of The 5% Institute agrees, saying “Lifetime value is important because it allows you to properly ascertain how much time, effort and cost you can forecast to acquire a new customer. This means that you can potentially lose money on the front end – if it means they’ll become profitable on the back end. It allows you to properly plan what it takes to acquire a new customer.”
Alexander Kesler of INFUSEmedia prefers CLV to cost Per Action (CPA), saying “CPA is often used as a universal measure in digital advertising. Yet its efficiency as a guide is not always reliable. For example, if your business model is built on customer engagement and retention (e.g. most subscription businesses), CPA might be low for such campaigns, but the business might still be seeing little benefit. Comparing and optimizing against a metric such as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) would be much more relevant.
Editor’s Note: Need to keep on top of all your team’s stats? Check out the Sales Manager KPI dashboard to get at-a-glance reporting on closed-won, deal size, outcomes, and how they stack up to your tracked goals.
Other experts see value in using Customer Acquisition cost (CAC) as a KP for various reasons. For instance, Jose M. Gomez of Evinex explains that Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) — how much you spend to make a potential customer purchase your product (or service) — can be used to “ measure the profitability and scalability of the company. In the marketing world, we use CAC to optimize the company’s costs as marketing spends. It is a simple way to measure how your marketing investments turn into profits. Improving (decreasing) Customer Acquisition Cost is crucial for a company in any industry.”
Mostafa Yasser of Stacks Market also uses this formula (expressed here as Cost per Acquisition or CPA.) “CPA is the total cost per promotion (Advertising + expenses (ex: phone calls) divided by the number of new customers acquired. it indicates if your sales funnel is profitable or if you need to optimize the cost of some early steps of the funnel such as your CPL (cost per lead) or your CPM (Cost per mile) depends on the marketing strategy you’re using.”
CAC also works for Ross Simmonds of Foundation. “Out of all the KPIs an organization can measure, the cost of customer acquisition is at the top of my list as the most important metric.” As Simmonds explains, “The CAC is determined by taking the cost of sales and marketing over a month or quarter, including salaries and dividing it by the number of customers acquired in that period. In an ideal situation, the lifetime value of those contracts is extremely high while the cost to acquire them is very low. The most successful SaaS companies have a customer lifetime value that is often 4 or 5x as much their costs to acquire.”
There is a middle road to the big CLV vs CAC debate though, points out Nick Roberts of Global App Testing, who uses customer acquisition costs vs LTV in order to gain a full picture. “It is the single most important metric for companies to understand if they need to invest more or less in certain channels. If you don’t know or fundamentally understand these you can easily be getting customers that cost your business more than it is worth. Likewise, finding pockets or channels that you can exploit allows you to continually reinvest in those which scale your business quickly.”
Adam Hempenstall of Better Proposals looks to one metric in search of a solid KP: Churn. Hempenstall uses it “because churn means that something is wrong about your product. It could be that customers no longer see the value, so they’re churning. It could be that they only use the app once and have no use for it anymore. It could also mean that they don’t discover the full use of the app early enough so they stop paying. Whatever the cause, churn is like a high fever for your body – an obvious sign that something has gone wrong and needs immediate attention.
There are other metrics important to understanding the retention angle and the overall customer experience. Two of our experts point to Net Promoter Score (NPS) for their KPI needs. Michael Howard of Nichefire explains, “A good NPS is a great indicator that your company is doing great work for your customers. It measures more than just product; it measures the customer experience as well. It’s an indication that your company has evangelists that can help sell for you.
Tushar Sonal of Polestar Solutions says, “Many companies I think often fail to correctly track an important metric that can often point out the direction where extra efforts need to be put in, helping them to prioritize their tactics and efforts – the Net Promoter Score (or NPS).”
Says Sonal, “NPS is very helpful to measure, because it not only helps you to identify which of your customers are likely to stick with you for a long time, but also helps you to understand which customer will be willing to recommend you to others, on both online and offline platforms. It will also help you to identify which of your customers are your detractors so that you prioritize the relevant efforts using the right offers to win them over to your side.
Sonal goes on to say, “Increasing customer lifetime value should be one of the highest priorities today. This is especially true for SaaS focussed companies like us. Analysis of the customer NPS provides valuable insights to increase customer retention, run the right referral programmes and obtain customer recommendations and testimonials which help to do further purchases.”
Jayson DeMers of Oro Inc. uses the overall customer retention rate as a KPI. “This is one KPI that can measure several things. First off, if you just launched an online store for your customers this will provide insights into how many customers keep using the store to place orders. If your customers continually come back to the store for orders then you know that your site is providing something they actually needed and desired. This will likely suggest they are happier!!” Conversely, explains DeMers, “If customers are still placing orders the old fashioned way, via email, fax, or over the phone and some are being placed online here and there then it will show that yes the store works, but it wasn’t necessarily fundamental for them to have it and the efforts being made to keep them placing orders online need to be improved and there’s more work to be done to make them make the shift to 100% online. This one KPI can provide you with many useful insights into your efforts to digitally transform the business.”
Dario Zadro of Zadro Web also keeps an eye on where those customers are coming from. Location, which Zadro describes as an “often-overlooked KPI” has “tremendous value for the insights it can provide towards current sales activity, as well as missed opportunities. You can easily find location data directly in Google Analytics under Audience -> Geo -> Location. Here you will see a list of countries providing traffic. You can then drill down into each specific country for additional details. But, how is this data important?”
“This critical location data helps to understand the primary target(s) your products or services are serving. Does your messaging line up? Are you tracking conversions (which you should be), and does the data correlate to what you expected? If not, you might consider re-thinking your content strategy.”
Says Zadro, “If your business has location landing pages that do not target what the data shows, it would be a relatively quick win to spin up a new page with Geo optimized terms to show up in a search for that area. If your business is in e-commerce, updating your copy and images to reflect the location could also help. Are you hiring a new sales rep? Consider the top-heavy location area. There are many ways to use location as a strong KPI.”
The numbers don’t usually lie. Sales and revenue figures can reveal internal and external trends over time and can be used to fine-tune your processes and team behaviors in order to move the needle.
Kev Jefcoate of Oak Marketing Compliance Limited cuts straight to the chase with gross profit, explaining that this KPI “is where you understand that the sales are delivering cash to pay bills and keep the lights on.”
Steve Hawkins of Image Inflators.com also goes with unvarnished numbers, preferring to track Revenue Growth. “Bottom line any sales program should increase revenue or be short-lived.”
Meanwhile, Jamie-Lee Kay of The Other Straw tracks Average deal size in dollars. By doing so, explains Kay, “ you can track how many deals you need in your pipeline to hit your monthly, quarterly or yearly sales targets.”
This method also works for Dheeraj Neevan of Keka HR. “Let me explain it with an example: If this month I converted 40 prospects into paying customers with an average deal size of $10k and the next month if I happened to convert 60 prospects into paying clients with an average deal size of $10k then according to me it’s bad performance from the sales team. As the cost of retaining the client in the latter case will be more because the number of customers has increased but the MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) is the same, which in turn, proves to be a loss on the company’s end.”
To break these numbers down further, Andrea Loubier of Mailbird uses Individual sales totals. “Every company should make it a point to track individual sales from each member of the team. While the overall numbers as a whole are definitely a focus, it’s still always important to be sure that each person is pulling his or her own weight.”
Others use the numbers generated by the whole department as a guidepost. Hope Ashley of UpFlip uses short-term sales goals, explaining, “While we all need to look ahead when it comes to goals, we can’t forget about the short-term possibilities. When long-term goals are high and not easily attainable, it can be better for morale to focus on goals in increments and, as they are achieved, move towards the next.”
Some experts want to examine progress over time, either monthly, quarterly or another identified interval. FOr instance, Kevin Erb of Vykan looks at Dollar Value for New Contracts Signed Per Period. As Erb explains, “This is extremely important for companies that are trying to grow from small manufacturing to larger manufacturing. Falling into signing smaller clients with lower overall contract value can essentially burn out management and staff. Gaining larger average contracts will ensure that you are securing the right contracts to promote the overall financial health of the company.”
Pipeline is also important, as it eventually must become a revenue number. Alonso Chehade of Sales Readiness Group uses total potential revenue in the pipeline to monitor and assess its health.
Change over time is also high on the list for Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls, who uses net expansion revenue or “ the total additional revenue generated by existing customers who have increased their spend, less any revenue contraction or churn.”
“Existing business KPIs measure how effectively we’re getting current customers to spend more money with us. Retention and expansion are key to our strategy for driving sustainable revenue growth. It’s so much more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one so this KPI is key to know.”
Tim Grinsdale of TOAD Diaries uses a similar method, choosing Cash Flow health. “It’s the lifeblood of every company,” explains Grinsdale, “Especially with B2B transactions, there can be huge pressure placed cash flow. Having terms with our clients (sometimes up to 60 days) meant we’d often pay upfront for materials, do the bookmaking, and create the final product before placing the invoice. This put huge pressure on our cash flow in the process. I had to make major changes to protect our cash flow in the form of a 50% pay upfront policy, and no more than 30 days terms thereafter. “
Grinsdale says, “We’ve lost a couple of clients in the process, but the health of the company, especially from a cash flow perspective, is much better now. I believe that eCommerce companies need to take similar steps in order to stay ahead in the modern competitive landscape.”
Editor’s Note: Want to know how things look at the top of the funnel? The Top of Funnel Website Performance dashboard will help you understand your audience and their engagement within the website, which can help you capture more attention and fill the pipeline.
Thomas Perez of Trident examines the health of revenues by examining sales to revenue ratios. Perez uses this method as “It tells you how ‘efficiently’ your sales are. It tells you if your sales are effective and/or should be a warning that your sales strategy needs adjustment or change. If you’re spending a lot on sales and not moving the needle on revenue, it may be time to adjust fire.”
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers also examines the numbers with a KPI tracking sales % growth month over month. “You want your business to grow and the most important metric to track is your sales percentage growth week over week, month over month, quarter over quarter and year over year. You want to make more sales this month compared to last month. If that’s the case, your business is growing and succeeding.”
This also works for Oliver Houart of Smartoperations, who says “You have a business if you have a paying customer. No need to focus on the price at first when you start a business but look at your ability to generate some interest and added value for the customer. Profitability is important but comes in a second time. For more established businesses, this neutralizes the price effect and gives you the net trend for your product. There shouldn’t be conflicts with the rentability as prices are given to the sales team and there is a double check when you look at profitability KPIs. You have bigger leverage if you are able to increase your customer base.”
This is a one-size-fits-all metric, according to Houart. “It is valid for all businesses, the moment you expand, you have less dependency on customers and you are able to test and modify your tactics. I operate in small-margin industries and if you don’t have the sales volume increasing itis almost impossible to structure or restructure the business.”
“On the contrary, if you can demonstrate your capability to increase sales volume you are in a good position with all stakeholders. This will work in cases of single products or product mixes. This includes the customer churn rate, which is good to get a first global overview of how the business is evolving. You can then look at the churn rate separately and in more detail.”
Joe Bailey of My Trading Skills considers that not every sale is created equal, and examines sales from new business as a barometer of future business health. Bailey says, “It is important because it helps quantify the effectiveness of the company’s marketing methods. This KPI will have a direct impact on ad spend, and the advertising techniques the company should use in order to attract new business”
Getting sales in the door is most important to Ana Paulina of Hektikus, who tracks sales velocity. “It essentially measures how fast you’re making money, so aside from including some key sales metrics (number of sales opportunities, average deal size, conversion rate, and pipeline length), it gives you a diagnosis of your business’ ability to bring a profit and is a fantastic selling point for investors.”
Says Paulina, “If you’re not satisfied with the number, you can easily play with the four factors to figure out what you need to improve in order to be more profitable, as quickly and easily as possible.”
For others, it’s the margin on those sales that matters most. Michael Rewers of Blogerio explains, “For me, the most important for all companies should be margins (profits) they generate. This can be measured both is percentage and value in USD for example. A healthy profit allows companies to grow their business and can be used to scale, build a solid financial foundation or acquisitions.”
Getting people across the finish line is really what it’s all about in the end; however, moving them along every step of the customer journey is important, too! Tracking conversion KPIs is a great way to understand adoption, and where you can improve marketing to increase sales at the end of the day.
Quite a few of our experts, including Katarzyna Iwanich of Insightland, track the overall conversion rate from lead to sale/purchase. “One of the most important KPI for B2B sales is the CONVERSION rate from lead to sale/purchase. The percentage of generated sales out of leads which were reached can tell us how effective we are at leads selection, how many of them are valuable and whether the tools which were used for reaching the audience were properly selected.”
Angelica Pereira of energyX Solutions also takes this tip-to-tail approach. “The duration of time each prospect stays at every stage in your sales funnel. This will give you a clear understanding of which prospects need to be moved and by when they need to be moved by. EnergyX “licenses enterprise software solution to utilities across North America in order to help them automate their energy efficiency programs and achieve their program participation targets.” Because utilities “are known to be naturally risk-averse [they] tend to not act with a sense of urgency when it comes to licensing software.” For this reason, Pereira explains that the sales cycle is long – an average of anywhere from 12 – 24 months. “At the same time, because of these longer sales cycle, one needs to fully understand their pipeline and their top of the funnel so that they can hit their quarterly targets.”
Therefore, Pereira says:
“1) Tracking the conversion rate from initial contact to deal closure gives us a clear understanding of what our pipeline needs to be at the top of the funnel in order for us to successfully and consistently hit our targets. It also allows us to accurately forecast our numbers for subsequent quarters and adjust as necessary based on the conversion rates we are seeing. This becomes exceedingly important as we add reps, with varying experience levels, and allows us to monitor performance and set quotas that are achievable.
2)Tracking the duration of time each prospect stays at every stage in our sales funnel gives us a clear understanding of which prospects need to be moved and by when they need to be moved by. This allows us to stay within our sales cycle timelines and more importantly, move prospects out of our funnel which has exceeded their stay and may not close. It also allows us to analyze deals that close the fastest and the reasons behind those (for example, we have found that the longer the prospect stays in the discovery phase, the lesser the chance of closure). Moreover, this also forces our reps to question and perhaps even justify the validity of these prospects (if they have exceeded their timelines at any particular stage) instead of simply keeping them in their funnel for an infinite period of time.”
Pereira says in closing, “At EnergyX, we have an enviable conversion rate from initial contact to deal closure and we have managed to shorten and stay within our sales cycle by understanding and managing the above two metrics/KPI’s.”
The length of the sales cycle is also the recommendation from Henning Schwinum of Vendux Interim Sales who likes to keep track of this KPI because “it drives a lot of others. E.g. if it is 12 months, there is no point in looking at the pipeline created last quarter. A change in the length also indicates changes in market dynamics.”
John Hill of Adapted Growth also tracks conversions. “Most salespeople rush to pitch without doing any qualifying. I am a firm believer that we should qualify rigidly so that closing is easier. If you are not closing at 50% or higher of the people who you give a proposal to, you are not qualifying hard enough.”
This rings true for Jack Choros of Iron Monk, who explains, “Success ratios make it easy for us to set realistic targets for our salespeople. Our targets are just high enough to motivate the team to keep reaching new heights but not so high that they get discouraged. We also strive to explain to our team that reaching a given success ratio allows us to provide our solutions to real-world problems our prospects have. We always want to come from a place of service.”
This method helps Morgan Taylor of LetMeBank.com keep an eye on the bigger picture. “If you have a thousand ads out there and you’re tracking the views for those ads, but you’re only getting a hundred page-visits, then it stands to reason that your campaign needs some work. If you’re putting a lot of money towards an ineffective campaign, then you’re losing money that could be, at the very least, put to good use elsewhere.”
Other experts, such as Kristie Jones of Sales Acceleration Group, prefer to track the close rate specifically to keep things in perspective. “Understanding the team’s (and individual reps) close rate helps sales leaders set a lot of other sales metrics. If you know what you’re close rate is then you know how many deals need to be in the pipeline in order to hit your sales goals.
(I.e. If you have a 20% close rate and your team’s sales goal is $1M in revenue then the team will need to have $5M in their pipeline throughout the course of the year to hit $1M.)”
Meanwhile, Jasz Joseph of SyncShow takes a different perspective on close rate, reviewing the percentage of digital leads that close. “When you know the percentage of your digital leads that generally close, you are able to work backward and determine how many leads your marketing team will need to generate from digital. This allows for strong sales and marketing team alignment and a centralized goal.”
Ramey Miller of Text Request reviews the percentage of conversions that take place after a completed demo. Says Miller, “In our B2B Saas company, we either get organic sign-ups which have no contact with us before they sign up, sign-ups after receiving a sales email or sign-ups after a completed demo. The demo is put on by our sales team, it is one-on-one and has a decent conversion rate. But that rate needs to be watched for two reasons, If it is high, then we need to work on scheduling more demos. If it is low, we need to work on sales training. It helps keep everyone accountable, as well as directs marketing towards their next big project.
Liam Barnes of Directive approaches this KPI in a similar manner, examining the leads to opportunities rate on a regular basis. “Most B2B companies prefer the method of lead generation as a means of gathering potential customers. The problem with track leads as a KPI is that they may not be quality or qualified. Tracking your leads to opportunities rate (or leads to SQLs rate), you can determine whether or not you are efficient in your lead generation strategy.”
There are other KPIs our experts use to track their progress, including Gloria Lafont of Action Marketing who uses the number of ‘move forward conversations’ per week in their metrics. “Follow up is the secret sauce to sales and it’s also the hardest thing to keep up with. Keeping track of the number of conversations that move the sales forward, along with other metrics such as proposals sent, demos booked, and sales closed, helps in getting it the follow up done, which results in closing more sales.”
It takes a lot of work to get customers engaged and committed, and sometimes, it’s a numbers game. Keeping activity levels high helps get more customers in the door, which can improve pipeline and revenue over time.
Melanie Musson of 360QuoteLLC looks to pipeline progression to understand and correct any leaks in the funnel. “Sometimes B2B deals take months to close. I believe weekly pipeline progression KPI gives a better picture of the progress being made than just keeping track of leads and deals. Tracking the progression can keep you motivated on what would otherwise look like a slow week. If there is progression, things are happening even without deals being closed yet.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls tracks the number of SQLs in order to determine sales and pipeline health, saying “B2B sales is a numbers game and you have to kiss a lot of toads to find the Prince Charmings. Whether you set the number of calls/outreach per day/week and the vetting process to ensure they are a good fit for further discussion or you reverse engineer you best customers or you create criteria for your funnel based on a quantitative or qualitative screener the key is to track and measure which pathways are most effective. Depending on your target audience you may see that direct mail, high touch events, or affiliate programs are the best way to find your best customers for example.”
Alexa Stefani of Sagefrog Marketing Group looks at MQL’s per week and new deals per week. “We look at these numbers every week and find these numbers important because it helps us ensure we are hitting our weekly goals in order to stay on track with monthly and annual goals. It also allows us to track what is working and what is not working and what we need to be changing or continuing to do.”
Brice GERMAIN of Agence Copernic tracks the number of sequences sent last week in order to stay close on the heels of any needed change, saying the practice is “important to follow the rhythm of my sales and the performance.”
Outbound leads are the most important KPI to track, according to Julien Raby of Cookwared. “I’ve been managing sales at 2 different companies. I’ve learned that the difference between hitting or missing our monthly targets resides in our ability to generate outbound leads.
You should already have a fixed and slowly growing amount of inbound leads (if not, go and fix that now :), as well as referrals and existing client upsells. But that is usually not enough to reach aggressive sales targets. That’s why each salesperson is tasked with generating additional outbound leads on his own. This can be achieved by networking at events, outreaching on LinkedIn, cold calling/emailing, asking for referrals, etc. That way, every salesperson is responsible for filling their pipeline and our results get much more predictable.”
Many experts rely on call volumes, but volume isn’t all there is to it. Getting face time with decision-makers is key. Erik Fisher of Erik Fisher Official, therefore “tracks the number and frequency of meetings with decision-makers.” Employing this type of tracking in the overall sales and KPI process has allowed Fisher to remain “in the top 1% in sales production in my organization of over 1000 B2B outside salespeople.” Those numbers speak to the success of a good process and tracking.
Meetings also reign supreme for Kim Orlesky of KO Advantage Group, who says, “Most companies measure revenue. But revenue is a lagging indicator. It shows you the results based on what you’ve already done. Meetings, on the other hand, are a leading indicator. They are within the control of the salesperson and will determine if you’re on track to meet your revenue targets, or not. Thankfully with 60 advance accuracy”
Fellow activity-tracker Cauvee keeps an eye on appointments set to understand how well a team is performing. ”If a sales representative is putting in the time and effort, making an attempt with then everything else can be adjusted in performance. The traditional standard for a top performer is 110 dials per day, so as long as the representative is in the top 7 to 15% of his or her class with outbound activity if the cycle isn’t moving to a second call close or Close ratio isn’t above 30% we know what we need to train on.”
Nathan Bliss of Kinsta instead uses the number of meetings or demos completed as a barometer for progress. “Booking a demo or a meeting isn’t enough. Actually completing it is what really matters. Perhaps it was canceled or rescheduled? Maybe your contact didn’t show up at all. Booking a meeting and completing a meeting are two different things. They should be tracked separately for more accurate results.”
Avinash Chandra of BrandLoom uses the number of new customer leads for the same purpose. “For the growth of any B2B business, it is important to acquire new customers. It is important to manage the churn rate by acquiring new customers.”
Editor’s Note: Need to keep an eye on your response times and conversation success? Check out the Drift Campaigns and Conversations dashboard to understand how the team is interacting with your leads and prospects, and how you can keep the conversation going all the way to closed-won.
To get them talking to you, you first need to get them to reply, according to our expert Lori Mankin of ClearPivot. “I think most sales teams leveraging tools like SalesLoft put too much emphasis on open rate and CTR when they really should be focusing on reply rate. Why? Because replies result in a conversation. While KPIs further in the customer journey like SQLs, opportunity pipeline, or customer expansion is critical to a business’s success none of them can exist without starting a two-way dialogue. Therefore defining a KPI for replies is essential to meet those KPIs”
It’s also about the right ice-breakers in your content, says Mankin. “Furthermore, understanding which topics result in a conversation is powerful information that can be leveraged at every point in the customer lifecycle. It can improve marketing messaging to attract new leads. It can be leveraged in sales conversations once a meeting has been booked. And it can be leveraged again in customer account reviews.”
And the time to acquire those new leads and turn them into buyers is important as well, according to Brian Taylor of Forix. “For B2B, a sale often takes weeks to months to develop and close rather than days in B2C. Because of this, it’s important to measure and get a good idea of how long it takes a sale to close so you can properly forecast what’s on the horizon. This is crucial for sales process evaluation, cash flow planning, pipeline development, hiring decisions, and more. Not being able to forecast properly could mean your business fails to scale in a healthy manner, or worse leads to disaster.”
Says Taylor, “As an owner, it will help in calculating how many new leads are needed per month, and how many closes to expect/when. This not only affects sales but also other departments such as advertising and marketing. If for example, your business is seasonal (heavy demand around the holidays), you may see a slump in new leads and sales during the summer. Knowing all leads from winter close by then could mean you need more marketing and advertising pushed out starting in spring to get more leads and keep the pipeline full.”
Anosha Imran of TradeWheel also needs to know what channel your audience comes from, using the information to track activity ratios. “Keeping a track of where the lead was generated, whether it was attained through marketing, referrals, tradeshow or online articles will enable you to identify the source which produces the healthiest lead. For a B2B company, identifying the lead source which offers maximum conversion ratio is essential.”
When a call comes in, get right on it, says Anderson Brookes of Anderson Brookes, who measures first response time as a primary KPI. Says Brookes, “In our industry, we rely on the customers, we send our marketing to, to get in touch with us. So there are often times when the calls are missed or the customer is after a specific member of the sales team, who is indisposed.”
Says Brookes, “So it is vital that every call is responded to in a timely manner. As the saying goes you have ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ the longer a hot lead is left the more likely the customer will move onto somewhere else. So by monitoring first response time, the more efficient we become at converting piping hot leads into sales.”
This goes for Monika Adarsh of QR Code generator by Beaconstac as well. “Inbound conversations at the RIGHT TIME are supremely important for any B2B company. For us, prospects who got a response within 3mins of initiating the conversation converted 62% more than the others. Sometimes it’s as basic as sharing the right resources or directing to the right webpages.”
Says Adarsh, “This is all the more relevant for B2B products which thrive in extremely competitive markets. Quick response assures the prospect that the company is prompt in helping even when there is an issue after buying the product.”
Lead and opportunity response time is high-priority Datis Mohsenipour of Outback Team Building & Training as well, who says “It has been documented by Inside Sales and Harvard Business review, your likelihood of getting a lead on the phone decreases 10x if it takes you longer than five minutes to respond to a lead form submission. The importance of this is emphasized by the fact that a sales rep is 90% more likely to get in touch with a lead on the 6th call. It’s scary to think how much money could be left on the table by not responding to your lead submissions within five minutes – yet, only 4.7% of companies respond to their leads within five minutes. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When the lead is submitting their information to a form on your site, they are engaged in the task of sourcing your services (and likely those of your competitors). If you catch them while they are working on the task, they are more likely to be willing to have a conversation about your services.”
Casey Hill of Bonjoro chooses to focus on demos booked. “In sales, like in marketing, it is crucial to look at leading indicators or KPIs that give you a good signal of what is to come. A huge component of success for B2B sales teams is simply getting qualified people on the phone. If you have a very strong pipeline of conversations, your sales will be close behind.”
Keeping in touch is important, in the view of Spencer Smith of IRC Sales Solutions. Smith recommends tracking the number of touchpoints with prospects/customers, calling it the most important KPI to track “because, well, it’s difficult to sell things without connecting with a prospective buyer. Touchpoints = connections = sales opportunities. The more connections you’re making with prospects- whether you’re communicating via email or phone or even smoke signals- the higher your chances are of selling something. There’s also the number of attempts you’ve made, but that tells me more about your effort than your success on any given day. Connections advance prospects through the timeline and get them closer to making a decision to buy, and, for existing customers, touchpoints encourage them to buy even more.”Daniel Ramsey of MyOutDesk prefers to examine the number of conversations and the number of outbound hours per week. Says Ramsey, “Number of meaningful conversations have a direct impact on the number of sales the team is producing. It is a crucial lead measure in achieving the revenue goal. More conversations will lead to more sales, more referrals, and better client relationships.”
With these tips and strategies in mind, your B2B KPIs can be that much easier to track, and the goals behind them that much closer within reach. Employing even a few of these tips from our experts is sure to have a positive impact on your next sprint or initiative, and move the needle for your B2B product or solution.
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