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If you’re not careful, measuring the performance of your sales force can quickly become a complex exercise. The number of possible measures is too great to be able to track everything. To make sense of it all, you need to simplify as much as possible and stick to two or three indicators at a time.
What’s more, not all measures are created equal. You need to understand the different categories of indicators before choosing to measure any.
In this article, we’ll look at :
- Performance indicator categories;
- The two key indicators for any sales force;
- How to monitor these indicators on a daily basis.
What are the categories of sales performance indicators?
The four categories of performance indicators are as follows:
- Results indicators (reactive);
- Sales funnel indicators (prospective);
- Behavior indicators (prospective);
- Activity indicators (prospective).
Outcome indicators are often the only ones that can be measured, because they are relatively easy to measure. Typically, this category of indicators measures
- sales revenues;
- number of accounts opened;
- profit margin;
These are measurements that allow you to check your current position against the position you’d like to have. If there’s a discrepancy, you can create an action plan to compensate. And that’s their biggest problem.
Performance indicators only look at the past. It’s like looking in the rear-view mirror while driving.
Once we have the data, it’s too late to correct our aim. We’re in reactive mode. What’s more, historical data doesn’t necessarily represent what’s to come-especially in times of growth.
The solution to this problem is to use more upstream (forward-looking) indicators that help predict future results. It’s harder to do, but it yields better results.
Sales pipeline indicators
Sales pipeline indicators are forward-looking data that measure the progress of stages in the sales process. They include:
- How many opportunities are underway;
- The value of each stage in the sales process;
- The time each opportunity spends in a given stage;
- The conversion rate between each stage.
All this data is used to determine the weighted value of the sales funnel. This value represents the total number of opportunities multiplied by the probability of closing each stage.
Behavioral indicators measure the actions taken by the sales team. The behaviors measured are those that lead to progress in the sales process.
These behaviors include:
- How many times have sales reps talked about “compelling reasons”?
- How often they talked about a given product;
- The number of references requested;
- Number of introductions requested.
These actions help to improve conversion rates, shorten the sales cycle, generate new opportunities or maintain margins.
Behavioral indicators are particularly relevant when implementing a sales process or when training. In both cases, the aim is to develop new habits within the team.
We have no direct control over sales results, only over behavior. By measuring them, we can predict results.
Activity indicators measure the behaviors that drive the sales funnel:
- Number of calls made;
- Number of leads called;
- Number of references obtained;
- Number of voicemails left;
- Number of times a prospect said no;
- Number of appointments scheduled;
- Number of webinars presented;
The more of these activities that take place, the more opportunities will be added to the funnel, and the more these opportunities will progress through the sales funnel.
The two key indicators of sales team performance
The above examples show that it’s not difficult to find something to measure in your sales force. On the other hand, it’s not realistic to manage all this on a day-to-day basis. It’s time to simplify.
In general, you only need to track two indicators.
If these two indicators increase, so will sales. Without fail.
Key Indicator 1: Number of new meetings
A new meeting (a first base meeting in the baseball sales method) is a first meeting with a potential new customer or a meeting with an existing customer to discuss a new project or problem.
Please note: this is not the number of meetings. New meetings must meet certain quality criteria.
At PRIMA, the criteria for a first meeting are as follows:
- The first meeting must be with the company owner or a member of the company’s senior management;
- The meeting must last at least 60 minutes, otherwise it’s just prospecting;
- The potential customer must have a problem that we can solve and that requires a meeting.
You have to be realistic when making these measurements. Sales team members won’t be doing 12 to 15 first base meetings a week. Three to four meetings a week are excellent results.
Typically, when companies first look at this indicator, they realize that sales team members barely make 3 or 4 meetings a month. In that case, one or two new meetings a week is a huge step forward.
Key indicator 2: opportunities that have changed stage
To obtain this data, each week we measure the opportunities that have moved from one stage of the sales cycle to the next. So, from step 1 to step 2, from step 2 to step 3, etc. This indicator reports the activities carried out by team representatives in the previous week.
If there are few or no new meetings, you need to ask yourself how busy your sales team is.
If a person has been very busy but the results aren’t there, you need to check whether they were busy on the right things.
On the other hand, if movement in the sales cycle accelerates and the number of first-goal encounters increases, it’s a guarantee that sales results will increase too.
Indicateur clé 3: un indicateur de comportement
Il peut être avantageux de suivre un indicateur de comportement. Ce n’est pas essentiel mais ça peut servir pour renforcer un comportement à développer au sein de l’équipe de ventes.
Des comportements utiles à mesurer incluent:
- Le nombre de fois où les membres de l’équipe ont parlé de raison incontournable;
- Le nombre de fois où ils ont parlé d’argent;
- Le nombre de fois où ils ont parlé du processus décisionnel;
Les indicateurs de comportement évoluent avec le temps et changent avec le niveau de maturité de l’équipe de ventes; c’est pourquoi ils sont facultatifs. Par contre, les deux premiers indicateurs sont fixes et bénéficient à toutes les équipes.
How to track performance indicators
The best way to track these performance indicators is to use CRM data. Normally, CRM should manage them automatically. In the absence of a CRM, you can always use an Excel file. As the data is fairly simple, it’s still functional.
Even without automation, there’s no reason not to track these performance indicators. It’s easy enough for the number of new encounters, but for movement activities in the sales process, a CRM becomes necessary.
When tracking performance indicators, the following rhythm is ideal:
- A results indicator should be monitored once a month. There’s no point in looking at sales figures more often. If you’re behind on your forecasts, reporting results every day will only discourage your team. It’s a reflection of past actions and nothing can be changed. Actions you change today will only show results next month.
- Movements in the sales funnel should be looked at on a weekly basis, during the sales meeting. In general, as long as first-purpose meetings are held, there’s no need to dig any deeper.
- Activity indicators can be checked once a day if the person isn’t making enough first-purpose meetings, isn’t hitting their sales numbers or there isn’t enough activity in their funnel. Focus on activity indicators when someone is struggling, or when you’re evaluating the results of an action plan you’re trying to implement.
You don’t need to set up complex systems to measure the performance of your sales force. Two key indicators are all you need:
- number of new encounters
- changes in stages of the sales funnel
To this can be added a behavioral indicator to reinforce new habits within the sales team. Together, they provide the essential data you need to measure the performance of your sales force.