Sales POP - Purveyors of Propserity
Sales Management: Importance of Leading and Lagging Indicators
Blog / Pipeliner CRM / Oct 20, 2015 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 15445

Sales Management: Importance of Leading and Lagging Indicators

Much of the time, sales management is conducted through what are called lagging indicators. These are KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that show what has already happened after all is said and done.

Examples of lagging indicators:

  • Sales
    • # of units sold
  • Gross margin
    • # of different products sold
  • Market share
  • Gross revenue
    • # of deals won
    • # of deals lost

A clue to the problem with analyzing and managing only through lagging indicators is right there in the name: lagging. It means, “what has already happened.” By the time lagging indicators become clear, it is too late to change anything. That is why calculating risk only through lagging indicators is, itself, risky.

We certainly need lagging indicators—we need to be able to look back over time and see how we did. But in managing for the future, we need something that will show us how the activities we are engaging in now will impact our figures for the quarter or the year.

Leading Indicators

The other kind of KPIs are called leading indicators. Leading indicators are factors that can be monitored on a day-to-day basis, that give us an indication of how our lagging indicators are going to turn out.

Examples of leading indicators:

  • leads created
  • new leads into the pipeline
  • leads converted to opportunities
  • lead-to-opportunity conversion rate
  • sales rep closing ratio
  • team closing ratio
  • % of opportunities through each sales stage
  • opportunities proceeding within expected time frame

Combining Leading and Lagging

The combining of leading and lagging indicators give you a full picture of your operation. Moreover, the combination gives you a comprehensive look at your risk, and allows you to make changes to improve the scene before your lagging indicators come into effect.

You should be able to utilize your leading indicators to show how your lagging indicators are going to appear, if nothing changes between now and the time of your lagging indicators. For example, if you add up the value of your opportunities in the pipeline, the percentage chances of their making it through, the rankings of each deal, and other leading factors, you see that, if all goes according to plan, you’ll have $1.5 million for the quarter. If you add up all your leading indicators and see that you’re falling short of your target, you then have time to do something about it. For example:

  • Get more leads into the pipeline
  • Take steps to raise lead-to-opportunity conversion rates
  • Coach and mentor your reps to raise closing ratios
  • Make sure you have no unnecessary activities or tasks
  • Make sure all necessary activities and tasks are being done
  • Monitor your sales process to makes sure it is efficient

Tracking Leading and Lagging

Now, it’s one thing to decide what your leading and lagging indicators should be. It’s quite another to begin tracking them in such a way that you can actually use them to gain accurate sales performance insight, and skillfully manage.

For example, you could have all of your leading indicators arranged in a spreadsheet, and either have someone who is constantly updating it, or share it so that reps can update it with their own figures.

The basic issue with such an application—aside from the fact that someone can forget to update it—is that none of them present an instant, visual insight into how all of your leading indicators add up to your lagging indicators, moment to moment, day to day and week to week.

CRM Should Be—But It Isn’t

The traditional CRM approach has been more or less to ”track everything”—primarily the reps, their calls, their progress, their activities and so on. Reps entered their contact, account and activity data.

But what should a CRM solution really be? What should it show a company? The answer: Where sales has been, where they’re currently at, and where they’re going. In order for a CRM to do that, it must function with leading and lagging indicators, so it provides real insight.

No CRM has truly addressed this issue—until now.

Pipeliner CRM: It’s Built Right In

Pipeline View

Unlike any other CRM solution, leading and lagging indicators are instantly and visually displayed. It’s all right there before you, starting with the main Pipeline View.

Right here you can see how many leads are available, how many opportunities are in each stage of the pipeline, and how many are overdue (per the average length of time for each stage). Your primary leading indicators are right there.


On the right-hand side, the target is always visible, showing your primary lagging indicators, and how they are affected by all the leading indicators as they now stand.


In Pipeliner, the most important lagging indicator is something not available in any other CRM: the Archive. The Pipeliner CRM Archive is arranged exactly the same as the active pipeline view. Leads and opportunities contain all information present when they were archived—including documents, emails, notes, social media interactions, tasks, and activities.

An in-depth analysis can be done right in the Archive of lost deals—with the same degree of detail that can be done with current opportunities. With Pipeliner’s new Multi-KPI feature, which is available both in the main Pipeline View and in the Archive, you can compare 2 different values (for example Revenue and Units Sold) or 2 different time periods. There has never been an analysis tool like the Pipeliner CRM Archive.

Pipeliner’s other features, such as filters, ranking, account view, and timeline all display leading and lagging indicators in various configurations, allowing you to instantly see how your leading indicators add up to your lagging indicators.

Sales Performance Insights

As you can see, it’s not just the indicators, but how they are displayed and used. And with Pipeliner, that view is about to gain another major improvement with its all-new feature called Sales Performance Insights. With Sales Performance Insights a sales leader or sales representative can see, at a glance, how various leading and lagging indicators have been combined so far for a sales unit, for reps as compared with other reps, and for territories as compared with others. Not only can reps be compared, but so can various indicators for those reps.

Leading indicators include items such as created leads/opportunities, created accounts, and won opportunities. Lagging indicators include won opportunities, lost opportunities, won amount and lost amount.

For overall sales management and for calculating risk, make sure you take both leading and lagging KPIs fully into account.

See how Pipeliner CRM incorporates both leading and lagging KPIs right into is functions.  Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

About Author

CEO and partner of and the uptime ITechnologies, which I founded in 1994 and has since played a significant role in the development of the IT-environment. pipeliner is the most innovative sales CRM management solution on the market. Pipeliner was designed by sales professionals for sales professionals and helps close the gap between the requirements of C-level executives for transparency and the day-to-day operational needs of field and inside sales. I am also the founder and Initiator of the independent economic platform GO-AHEAD!, which orientates itself on the principles of a free marketplace in terms of liberal and social responsibility. Connecting people, the trust of business leadership in terms of values such as freedom, self-responsibility, and entrepreneurial spirit, and strengthening their awareness in order to create a dynamic boost within the economy triggered through spontaneity, all stand for the initial ideas surrounding GO-AHEAD! I studied in Los Angeles and Vienna and received my Masters's Degree in 1994. I am married and have 3 children My Specialties are in: Sales Management, Sales CRM Software, CRM Cloud Solutions, SAAS, Business Strategy, Software Development, "Pipeline Management", Social responsibility, outbound sales, b2b sales, inside sales, sales strategy, lead generation, sales process, entrepreneurship, coaching, mentoring, speaker, opportunity management, lead management, Austrian School of Economics

Author's Publications on Amazon

This is a practical manual covering the vital subject of Sales Management. I firmly believe that sales are the most important profession for dealing with today’s turbulent world and Econo my, for salespeople create wealth and produce peace. But salespeople need a competent, stable leader—and…
Buy on Amazon
Inside this eBook, you’ll discover a series of chapters dedicated to some of the most important areas facing sales today. From the sales process definition to measurement, lead generation, and proven sales techniques, this comprehensive eBook will provide you with the information you need to…
Buy on Amazon
A common term in sales today is EQ, which stands for “emotional I.Q.” It means the skill a salesperson has in reading emotions and utilizing them in sales. It means empathy and a number of other abilities. The short version is, it’s an I.Q. when…
Buy on Amazon
People are smart to question the future of automation, for it has become part of everything we do. With the quantity of applications and technology around us, we yet still crave more. We become convinced of its power when our package is delivered from Amazon…
Buy on Amazon
Sales management isn’t a simple subject by any means. But at the same time, it does have some basic and somewhat simple fundamentals—and that is what we are bringing to you with this book. First come pain points of sales management, and how to overcome…
Buy on Amazon
Today the Internet has transformed a seller's market into a buyer's market and author Nikolaus Kimla states that the role of sales has never been more crucial. It is now time to give salespeople the role they factually can play: entrepreneurs within the enterprise. They…
Buy on Amazon
This is our public declaration of the intentions behind Pipeliner, and our objectives and motives for the product and for our company. Behind the development of that CRM application and, in fact, behind everything we do, we have a real cause. The story begins with…
Buy on Amazon
For the future, there must be a perfect balance of humans and technology. You have to have the perfect technology, andthen the perfect human being in application, performance and presentation. Today and into the future, it’s a 50-50 balance. In the past it was perhaps…
Buy on Amazon
The salespreneur is based on the concept of the entrepreneur. Before we can explain the salespreneur, you have to have some understanding of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur plays a crucial role in any economic system. The entrepreneur seeks out information that can be utilized for…
Buy on Amazon
A seasoned captain would never leave port without a competent navigator. In a similar way, a sales manager might be a total ace at "commanding the ship" – at inspiring and coaching sales reps, pointing out and getting agreement on making quotas, and keeping everyone's…
Buy on Amazon
Sales Process Automation
This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this website you are giving consent to cookies being used. For information on cookies and how you can disable them, visit our privacy and cookie policy.