We polled more than 20 founders and sales leaders to hear which sales metrics teams should be using most to set effective goals for its sales reps.
Sales | Nov 5 2019
Jessica Greene on June 17, 2019 (last modified on June 20, 2019) • 21 minute read
Tracking leads is obviously important. So is tracking won deals and revenue. But what other KPIs should sales managers track? What KPIs will give you insight into your team’s performance or help you identify training opportunities, pipelines issues, or even the source of your highest-quality leads?
For those types of insights, you have to measure more than just the go-to sales metrics.
To uncover some of the more unique KPIs that sales managers are tracking, we asked 41 sales professionals to tell us about the KPIs they’re most focused on right now.
They shared 37 different sales KPIs that span the entire customer lifecycle—from first touch to retention—each with respondents’ thoughts on why tracking that KPI is useful and important.
Editor’s note: If you’re part of an agency that needs to report on sales KPIs for multiple clients, Databox can help. Create a dashboard that displays key metrics from Salesforce, HubSpot CRM, Google Analytics, CallRail, and more than 70 other tools, then share it with your clients for fast and efficient real-time reporting.
“Having an understanding of the percentage of leads your company is generating will not only keep your sales representatives motivated, but you will also be able to track and measure your team’s performance,” says Alejandra Melara of Gray Group International.
“Are they reaching established quotas? Are quotas set too high—or maybe too low? Tracking percentage of leads generated lets you make decisions based on your team’s performance.”
“The most important sales KPI to track is the number of qualified leads you receive,” says Michael Richard of Whetstone Education.
“Receiving a lead is an exciting part of any sales manager’s day or week. However, understanding whether or not that lead has real value helps you determine how to allocate your time and energy.”
“Working in a SaaS company with a year-long sales cycle means that I have to carefully choose the leads I follow up on so I don’t waste my team’s resources. Typically, I can quickly test whether or not a lead is qualified by how much information the person provides—and by his/her email address.”
“The insights that can be drawn from lead response time are three-fold,” says Amanda Daume of Revenue River.
“Are your reps following up with leads in a timely fashion? Are they following up in a way that systematically follows the process they’ve been taught? Is there a bunch of unnecessary friction that should be eliminated from the lead routing process?”
“Track sales emails sent, types of emails, and open rates,” says Roman Kniahynyckyj of LyntonWeb.
“You want to see if prospects are engaging with your emails regularly. The more frequently they open emails from you, the more likely they are going to be to talk with you and ultimately buy from you.”
“Track the number of follow-up meetings you or your sales reps get,” says Oliver Lopez of Structsales.
“If you bring enough value to the first meeting, the client will want to meet with you again!”
“I think an important metric to look out for is call-show rate,” says Brandon Fargo of Brahvia Consulting. “How often are your booked sales presentations actually showing up for the call?”
“This is important because sales is obviously a numbers game. If your show rate is lower than 50% then you have an issue and should dig into why people are not showing up.”
“Is it a problem with the salesperson? Are people not sure about your company or solution before they even hear about it? These could all be issues.”
“Activity is incredibly important, and tracking last contact/activity ensures that leads are being contacted and deals are being followed up on,” says Tim Parkin of Parkin Consulting.
“If the sales team is taking action, the opportunities and deals will follow suit. This is why tracking activity (last contact) as a KPI is so important.”
Balto Software’s Marc Bernstein recommends tracking conversation drip. “Here’s a quick summary: let’s say that your sales team closes 30% of their calls—a super respectable number. We know that this means 70% of their calls didn’t close. Where did 70% of your business go?”
“We’ll start with a conservative scenario. Let’s say that out of the 70% of calls that didn’t close, 80% of them were ‘unwinnable.’ This means that for whatever reason, for 80% of your lost calls, there was no way the buyer would have moved forward with your solution no matter how good the pitch was.”
“Here, the unwinnable calls represent 56% of all calls: 70% of all calls didn’t close, and 80% of those calls were unwinnable. 70% x 80% = 56%.”
“Here’s where the math gets a little frightening. Even though you closed 30% of your calls, which for many sales teams is a feat in itself, and even though 56% of all the calls that came your way were unwinnable, you still left 14% of your calls on the table.”
“This is the chunk that was winnable—but lost. Fourteen whole freaking points.”
“If you’re running Facebook ads to an ecommerce store, you can track pixel events on the site,” says AdEspresso’s Paul Fairbrother. “Events include ‘View Content’ (when someone visits a product page), ‘Add To Cart,’ ‘Initiate Checkout,’ and ‘Purchase.’”
“By looking at the numbers for each step, you can see if there are any parts of the funnel on the website that need optimizing. For example, if you get lots of ‘Initiate Checkouts’ but not many ‘Purchases,’ it suggests the checkout process needs to be improved, such as adding easier payment options.”
Editor’s note: Get a complete picture of how your Facebook ads are contributing to your pipeline by downloading this free Facebook Ads Purchase & Leads Breakdown dashboard that shows basic campaign metrics alongside costs incurred and revenue generated.
“One of the most important sales metrics marketers and sales pros should be tracking are brand mentions,” says Jonathan Mentor of Successment – Vivid Digital Branding.
“In an increasingly social market, brand mentions online are often overlooked as an important sales metric. If people are discussing brands online it indicates that they are contemplating a sale, voicing an opinion about a sale, or expressing dissatisfaction with a sale.”
“By carefully curating brand mention data and aggregating it, the sales and marketing pipeline can become more targeted and agile.”
“For any business that has a strong online presence, track the ratio of the number of visitors to your site in relation to how many of them become leads,” says Jared Weitz of United Capital Source.
“This KPI is a strong indicator of your website’s conversion rate optimization. Be sure to have a clear definition of what a lead is (i.e. signing up for a product or subscribing to an email list) in order to best capture this metric.”
“While there isn’t one sales KPI to rule them all, a really good one would be the quality of leads from marketing,” says Namoo Lee of TK101 Global.
“This requires a conscientious effort from both departments, but if done right, it should lead to a steady pipeline of qualified leads.”
“In my opinion, the most important sales KPI is leads to opportunities,” says COFORGE’s Eric Melillo. “It allows a sales manager to monitor inbound lead flow versus actual opportunities.”
“It can also help evaluate when there might be trouble with lead quality or missed opportunity advancement from your sales reps.”
Purple Frog’s David Finch recommends tracking competitor pricing: “Sales teams need to fully understand the price of competitors to understand where their value lies.”
“You can be more expensive, so long as you understand what extra value you deliver for the premium. But if you don’t know the premium, you cannot ascertain the price you need to justify for the value.”
“In my experience, so many sales teams regard competitor pricing as something they need to beat as opposed to explaining away.”
“Track the number of deals of the board along with a pinned note explaining why it’s a deal,” says Martin Shervington of Plus Your Business. “For example, it’s a deal based on a sales rep’s conversation with a prospect.”
“Then at ‘Qualified Sales Deal,’ for example, there will in one in three conversions to ‘Customer,’ verified at the end of a sales cycle for accuracy of the salesperson’s judgment.”
“A sales KPI we’ve been focusing on lately is deals by stage, or how many opportunities exist at each preset percentage,” says demandDrive’s AJ Alonzo.
“Organizations traditionally look at their sales pipeline like a funnel, but we’ve started to see a different shape emerge for us: a bell curve.”
“Pipelines with more deals in the middle tend to be healthier than the traditional pipeline with more deals on the top. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see a pipeline full of deals at 0% (so much opportunity), but reps tend to be more motivated to work the deals that are in the 50-75% range due to their propensity to close.”
“Each activity into those accounts holds so much more weight, and reps know it. Having a bunch of those deals floating around in the middle gives us more motivated and excited reps, and that feeling trickles into the 0-25% bucket.”
Michael Maynes of CIENCE recommends tracking sales stage conversions: “Not just from opportunity open to closed, won or lost, but also the stage-to-stage movement, i.e. Disco to Evaluation, Evaluation to Validation, Validation to X, etc.”
Carlos Puig of BUNCH agrees: “We track the conversion percentage from new sales qualified leads to call appointments, and then the conversion from call appointments to closed contracts.”
“Duration per stage is a great metric, regardless of your go-to-market strategy,” says Andrea Lechner-Becker of LeadMD.
“After creating the opportunity, optimizing the amount of time to move through the funnel becomes paramount. It’s low-hanging fruit to simply take people already in the sales cycle and feed them content that expedites their current stage or future stages.”
“It’s also a great way to create sales and marketing alignment because marketing acts in service of improving the experience for people sales is already in conversation with, thus avoiding the classic demand gen issue of bad leads.”
“There are plenty of great metrics B2B sales managers should be keeping tabs on—close rates, calls scheduled, average deal size—the list rolls on forever,” says Foundation Marketing’s Josh Gallant. “The thing with these metrics is they’re all focused on the bottom of the funnel.”
“This is where the disconnect between sales and marketing always seems to fall.”
“One of the best ways to measure top-to-bottom performance and keep your sales and marketing teams motivated is by tracking deals closed by acquisition channel. You’ll start to learn where your best customers are coming from, which marketing can then use to double down on your best sources of leads.”
“Repeat sales per channel is an essential sales KPI,” says John Donnachie of ClydeBank Media. “A lot of focus is put on new sales and reaching more customers, which is important, but if we’re letting the customers that will be easiest to sell to stagnate and go without attention, then we’re leaving money on the table.”
“Repeat customers are the best customers, and they require less effort to sell to. Additionally, it is unsustainable to only acquire new sales without tapping into our existing sales base.”
“Per-session value makes it easy to compare traffic sources with vastly different amounts of traffic,” says Branko Kral of B King Digital. “Many times a small channel or landing page may be getting overlooked even though it’s powerful in closing sales whenever people do visit your site through it.”
“One way in which this metric enables comparison is by benchmarking to click cost. Imagine you advertise for direct response sales on Facebook, Google Ads, and AdRoll. You get different amounts of sessions (clicks) from each of the three. And the three traffic segments behave differently, too.”
“Thorough analysis of the differences in behavior may be helpful. But you can also just look at per-session values and see how much in sales each click brings you, on average.”
“Imagine this: cost per click is $4 on Facebook, $8 on Google, $0.50 on AdRoll. Per-session value is $3 for Facebook, $16 for Google, $0.30 on AdRoll. Google is the only one making you money via direct response website sales, even though clicks there cost you the most.”
“If sales leaders have to focus on a single KPI, it should be pipeline velocity,” says Dan Liska of AutoVerify. “Pipeline Velocity takes into account the way a sales team prospects (active opportunities), demos (average sales size), moves the deal through the stages (sales cycle), and closes.”
“It’s also very useful for forecasting as pipeline velocity can be multiplied by the number of selling days in a month,” says Mobials Inc.’s Samantha Kohn.
“Pipeline velocity can be calculated using the following equation: (average sales price in dollars x number of active opportunities x win rate or close rate percentage) / sales cycle, in days,” Kohn says.
SocketLabs’ Keith Hontz recommends tracking your opportunity pipeline multiplier: “Sales reps should maintain a 3-4x pipeline multiple of their revenue target.”
Bernard May of National Positions recommends tracking average time to conversion.
“Depending on your business model, it may take multiple touchpoints and nurturing for leads to convert. Understanding how long it takes to convert a lead (on average) will help you set expectations for your sales team.”
“A lot of companies track time to win, but few track the time it takes a deal to be marked ‘closed-lost,’” says Kiite’s Joseph Fung.
“The status quo lets reps get away with poorly qualified leads: letting a deal linger in your pipeline doesn’t show up.”
“However, if you start reporting on time to lose—and make it clear you want that number to be low—it’ll make sure deals are getting disqualified earlier in the process and will give you a pipeline report that’s much more reliable.”
“An important KPI all sales managers should be tracking is the percentage of their sales team who are hitting quotas,” says Best Company’s McCall Robison. “This is so important because it lets you know whether or not your quotas are realistic.”
“If less than 60% of your team is hitting quota, you likely need to reevaluate your goals. You want your quota to be difficult but not unreachable.”
“Also, if more than 90% of your team is hitting quota, you likely have the opposite problem: your quota is too easy.”
“Each quarter, take a look at your percentage of sales team hitting quota and base your new numbers off of that. Reevaluate every quarter to ensure you have realistic and up-to-date numbers.”
“Many businesses fail to track results generated by individual salespeople who are provided with leads by the business,” says Tomasz Alemany of Top Whole Life.
“The reason that tracking closing ratio on leads provided is critical is that not every salesperson treats these leads the same. Not only that, not every sales person has the same talent to close leads provided to them. They may be great at generating their own sales from their own leads, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“But if you provide leads to salespeople that close these types of deals more often, you’ll see an increase in closing ratio. So make sure you provide more of these types of leads to the people that close more provided leads. It’s really simple.”
“One important KPI every sales manager should be tracking is conversion rate, which measures the percentage of leads that ultimately become paying customers,” says Fundera’s Nate Causey.
“This metric is important to track because it can help sales managers calculate how effective their team is, which helps expose training gaps and forecast revenue targets,” Causey says.
Greg Schraff of digetry agrees: “Be sure to track the percentage of your leads that convert to paying customers, and always be working to increase this rate.”
“Look closely at the leads that are converting: do they have themes, traits, or user behaviors in common? Clues like this allow you to target the best prospects for your products or services,” Schraff says.
Causey says that “sales managers should also track conversation rates associated with existing customers. This measures the percentage of existing customers who have renewed their business or have been upsold on additional products.”
“This metric is also important because it indicates success in increasing customer lifetime value, which ultimately shows a successful product through satisfied customers. Renewing existing customers is beneficial for any company because it doesn’t entail additional customer acquisition costs,” Causey says.
Similar to conversion rate—but more specific to service businesses—thumbprint’s Morgan Lathaen recommends tracking client acquisition rate. “Of the new prospects your reps reach out to, how many are converted to customers?”
“Compare client acquisition rates to the number of prospects a rep reaches out to. If you find that conversions decrease after a certain number of touches, use that number as a benchmark to prevent your reps from getting burned out or stretched too thin.”
“Lastly, use client acquisition rates to compare different outreach methods, such as emailing or cold calling versus pursuing face-to-face interactions.”
“Close rate percentage is by far one of the most important KPIs a sales manager should track,” says Luke Conrad of Ascesis Media. “Ideally, at least 30% of quotes should be closed. Any less than this means that either your salesperson needs support and training or he/she simply isn’t good enough to meet target requirements.”
“Tracking close percentage is also a key metric that assists in working our sales forecasts. It allows for more informed, strategic decision-making across the business, including recruitment and budgeting,” Conrad says.
“Every sales team should be able to have a clear sales process and corresponding steps to follow based on where the customer is in the sales pipeline,” says Avidly’s Henri Pallonen. “If a business is having a problem getting a clear number for close rate, it’s a signal that there is a problem on previous steps.”
“You want your close rate to provide valuable info so you can actually enhance your score and get great insights on lost deals and what should be done differently. When you backtrack close rate, you’ll be able to enhance your sales a lot,” Pallonen says.
“One important KPI every sales manager should track is revenue per deal,” says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “A lot of sales managers focus on the number of deals they close but forget about how much revenue they bring per deal.”
“If you close 30 deals per month and the average of each deal is $200, it means you bring in $6,000 in revenue. In that case, it might be interesting to focus on larger accounts and only close five deals at $2,000 each.”
“This is not about the number of deals a sales manager closes but the quality of these deals.”
Maxburst’s Andrew Ruditser recommends tracking monthly sales growth: “This measures your revenue on a monthly basis, keeping you aware of if your sales are increasing or decreasing each month.”
“It’s important to track your monthly sales growth because it will help you identify which strategies are increasing your revenue—and which are not. If your sales increase one month but then decrease the next, you know you must change your strategy to make it increase again.”
“One of the most important sales KPIs that needs to be tracked by any kind of company is the average profit margin,” says Premium Joy’s Hassan Alnassir. “A business is ultimately all about the bottom line, and the key metric to evaluate that is the profit ratio for the offerings.”
“Profit margins help you know how much you can reduce pricing without losing money. By knowing net margins, you can judge whether you should increase the prices—and by how much based on the selling rates.”
“To make things simple, you should find the average profit margin across all your products or services. You can then utilize the average net margin along with the average number of monthly sales for one year to figure out how much you’re earning roughly every month.”
“If you’re selling using Shopify or WooCommerce, all the sales data needed to calculate the profit margins should be available in the online dashboard, ready to be exported.”
Editor’s note: Shopify users can get the metrics they need to quickly calculate their average profit margins using Databox. Download the free Shopify dashboard (pictured below) to see KPIs like gross sales and top products by sales. WooCommerce users can also grab this free WooCommerce Shop Overview dashboard.
“Customer lifetime value (CLV) refers to the amount of value a buyer provides over his/her lifetime as a customer,” says Hima Pujara of Your Team In India. “Every sales manager should measure CLV at regular intervals to maintain business sustainability.”
“There are a couple of methods for measuring CLV:”
“Keeping track of churn rate (the number of people who cancel their subscription in any given month) is essential while calculating CLV.”
“CLV/CAC ratio reveals the health of the business. If CAC is higher than CLV, business struggle to grow. Lead nurturing campaigns are a great way to reach out to existing customers and increase the lifetime value of your customers.”
“Focus on optimizing this ratio so that your business can grow at a healthy rate. The ideal LTV/CAC should be 3:1. If the ratio is 1:1 or 5:1, it means you are spending too much or too little, respectively.”
“I think the most important sales KPI should be existing customer/client retention,” says Rachael Jessney of Atelier.
“Everyone knows that it takes much less effort to retain and upsell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. Despite this, sales teams tend to be focused solely on acquiring new customers, with much less effort centered around client satisfaction and retention.”
“It takes a lot to bring in new customers, but it doesn’t matter how many you bring in if they all stop working with you after a few months,” says Text Request’s Kenneth Burke.
“Look at churn by rep (and lifetime value of those churned accounts), and use that information to guide your sales process. Are reps asking the right questions? Are they setting the right expectations?”
“One very frequently overlooked but important sales metric is cannibalization rate,” says Chane Steiner of Crediful. “This lets you know how a new product is negatively affecting sales of a previous product.”
“It is particularly relevant for companies who release the latest version of an existing line: think Apple with their iPhones. Tracking cannibalization rate will help you provide a better customer experience.”
Out of these 37 sales KPIs, which is the most important for sales managers to track? When we polled our respondents, deals closed and won came out on top:
But Intrafocus’ Clive Keyte says that “there is no one most important KPI that every sales manager should be tracking. In fact, if they are managing their sales by looking at KPIs first, then they will fail.”
“If sales managers are doing their jobs properly, the first thing they should do is look at what the company is trying to achieve, translate that into a set of four or five sales objectives, and then measure the success of the objectives by selecting the right KPIs.”
“Obviously, they will be tracking sales revenue, number of sales, sales conversion rate, etc., but these KPIs will not provide a competitive advantage or motivate a sales force.”
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