Numbers are the bread, butter, and heart of sales. Our days are full of numbers we must meet, numbers we must increase, and numbers we must understand. Numbers give sales meaning and value. But don’t let their ubiquitous nature fool you, or you just might end up with too much of a good thing.
The Internet is full to bursting with lists of “top” sales metrics, and while each list has its merits, you’ll be hard pressed to find any two that match up with each other. So, how are we to know which numbers really are the most important? Here are some red flags to watch out for.
Nonspecific metrics. A lot of the most lauded metrics out there don’t actually tell you the full story. Tracking your win rate, for example, is a powerful way to gain insight into the strength of your sales team. Track that same win rate by lead source, however, and you might discover weak points in your overall strategy.
Metrics that don’t solve the problem at hand. The sheer volume of sales metrics available to you at any given time can be a problem in and of itself. Let’s say you’re trying to identify the cause of last quarter’s lagging numbers. In your search, you end up drilling down through your data to look at your sales by region, then by product, then by team, and then by sales rep. Even if you do identify which individuals were responsible for your low numbers, you still need to understand the reason behind their poor performance.
Instead, try tracking your win/loss ratio by stage. By identifying which points in your sales pipeline are most responsible for lost sales, you can root out trends that have not only impeded wins for your chief offenders, but across your entire organization.
Risky metrics. There are a lot of great forward-looking metrics out there, but be sure you’re getting the whole picture. Relying on data like the total number of leads in your pipeline can sometimes backfire on you, unless you’re also focusing on what percentage of your prospects end up as sales qualified leads (SQLs).
Static metrics. Accurate forecasting depends on a clear picture of the present. When drawing up your projections, make sure you account for changes in the market, new product features, and any other factors that might positively or negatively impact your numbers.
The next five metrics, and the five after that, and the five after that. At a certain point, plumbing your data for insights begins to deliver diminishing returns. Just like poring over endless spreadsheets during a meeting, obsessing over the minutiae of your data leads to a loss in productivity and, even worse, perspective.
As a rule, try starting with the metric most associated with the task at hand. Then gain perspective by looking up five more related metrics. Any more than that and you risk falling down a rabbit hole of data points that could grind your productivity to a halt.
Metrics are a great resource for sales professionals, but if the data starts drawing time and focus away from the act of selling, you’ve got a problem. Minimize the time you spend generating and understanding the numbers and you’ll set your entire team up for success. We’ll cover how to do that very soon, but for now here’s a sneak peek at the sort of system that can get help you get the right numbers at the right time.