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Sales Process Metrics: Know Your Context
Blog / For Sales Pros / Oct 17, 2013 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 4708 

Sales Process Metrics: Know Your Context

We already know that it’s vitally important for a company to have and use a sales process, and for each stage of that sales process to have accurate metrics.

Those broad steps in themselves will take a company well beyond the traditional methods of the past in which the successful sales process was not well known and used, let alone measured—it was in the main a matter of hopeful guesswork.

But in actuality it is not enough to simply and only have such sales process metrics. The person doing the analyzing must also have an understanding of the context for each of those measures, and of their relationship to each other.

Effective Sales Process MetricsThe Broader View

One example of this context is to be able to view trends.

It isn’t enough to simply take a snapshot view of current statistics—you have to know how they compare to what has been done in the past, or what is the norm. For example, Sales Rep A has an improved closing ratio at this time in the month, which is a good thing. But now take a step back and view that salesperson’s trend over the last few months or even the last year. It might be found that while the closing ratio is higher than it was last week, it is below where it was at the same time last year.

In another example, one can look over a trend for an entire sales force and catch the fact that a higher percentage of sales are now stalling at a particular pipeline step than they were before. Time to possibly change the actions performed at that step, or at the least to discover what is hanging things up so it can be resolved.

Relationship of Sales Process Metrics

For a moment let us return to Sales Rep A given in the above example. The sales manager in that case was examining Sales Rep A’s closing ratio and discovered it was running generally lower than it was at the same time in the previous year.

But there is a broader context: how is Sales Rep A performing in relationship to other salespeople in the same department, or the same region?

The sales manager should be able to create a report that compares the average closing ratio for the whole team and compares it to that of Sales Rep A. The sales manager might be in for a nice surprise: Sales Rep A’s “lowered” closing ratio is still considerably higher than other members of the sales force. What is Sales Rep A doing that the others are not? Time to find out and share the successful methods so that the whole sales force can benefit.

Metrics and Understanding Make the Difference

It is certainly a different sales world than it once was. In the old days a salesperson was given a lead, and went out and met or called a prospect. The salesperson had his or her own methodology (sales process) that was not shared with others, nor were others’ successful methods shared back. Whatever sales processes existed did not have its individual steps measured; it was “all or nothing at all”—it was a close or it wasn’t. Additionally the prospect was most likely being shown a product or solution they knew nothing about, and could be easily “dazzled” into a purchase or at least a strong interest that could eventually be converted to a purchase.

The big game changer has been the internet. Many prospects today fully research a product before a sales rep calls them or shows up; they not only know about that product but also what others have said about it. A salesperson must be at the top of their game.

The advantage of automation not only greatly empowers prospects through the web—it empowers the sales force and its management through CRM solutions. We now know the importance of establishing a sales process, and getting it well known and used by everyone on the team. The added advantage is that of sales process metrics; being able to measure each and every step of the sales process and the overall sales process itself.

Take the one final step and understand the full context of sales process metrics—and raise the number of closes consistently into the future.

Look for our other articles on sales process measure and control. 

About Author

A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipelinersales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles, and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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