No sales team wants to be left in the dark about their performance. As the old saying goes: You can’t control what you don’t measure.
Accurate sales metrics are an effective way to measure each step of your sales initiatives. They can quantify team performance and productivity, strengthen decision making and give leaders a clearer view over where their team excels, or falls short.
Every sales leader knows the importance of tracking metrics — they’re the bread and butter of any great selling operation. The question is: How do you identify and track the most appropriate sales KPIs for your teams?
In this article, we take a deeper look at five important sales metrics that you need to consider right now.
What are sales metrics?
Sales metrics are the numerical portrayal of your revenue initiatives. They are the data behind each touchpoint, phone call, email, social outreach or cadence in the customer journey. These data points assess sales performance on a rep, team or company-wide basis. Metrics provide informed insights into the success of operations, helping leaders to optimize areas of performance, remedy areas of weakness and back up decision making.
In the big picture, sales metrics provide a view into strategy and messaging. They give leaders insight into trends happening within their business. Armed with this data, sales leaders can optimize their processes and activities to improve ROE and ROI, reducing bottlenecks that slow their team down.
At a more micro level, sales metrics help leaders understand the performance of their people. They show where certain sales development representatives (SDRs) aren’t meeting quota or their full potential. Using this, managers can direct coaching and deal with adoption challenges based on data rather than instinct.
What are the different types of metrics?
There are three key metric categories worth tracking for any team. This applies to any product or service, industry or territory. These are: activities, connections and success. At Harte Hanks, we call these the “holy trinity” of inside sales metrics.
Activity metrics are the numbers that measure rep performance in a specific time frame. Calls per day. Emails per day. Social touches per day. These are all typical examples.
When used in the right way, activity metrics are some of the most impactful sales data sets. They can help leaders protect their sellers’ time and increase ROE. They also incentivize greater performance by keeping the team informed about the number of touchpoints they need to reach a specific goal. Remember: You can’t manage a team unless you know the activities they’re carrying out and how successful those are.
Measuring activity with common vanity metrics is only one side of the coin. Sales managers and reps can get too caught up in hitting call quotas and lose sight of the end goal: closing deals. Any good seller can make 80 calls in a day, but if none of those lead to closed deals or even booked appointments, it’s wasted effort.
Connection metrics measure the success of a sales team’s outreach efforts. They usually include metrics such as engagement rate, speed-to-lead and call-to-connect. Using the insights provided by this data, sales leaders can better understand the performance of their processes. They can see where outreach activities and tonality have been most potent across their outreach efforts, with a view to replicating this for greater team-wide results.
Success metrics represent the outcomes of the entire sales process. They offer insight into close rates, deals won and market leadership. These often include closing deal rates and conversion rates.
These metrics provide a high-level overview of the sales process across the board. It’s proof of the strength of an outbound sales strategy as a whole. Falling short of success benchmarks is a good sign that a change is required. Analyze key messaging and identify where the strategy is generating a clear ROE, and where processes are falling short of expectations.
If you’re experienced at inside selling, you’ve likely come across speed-to-lead at some point. It’s a metric that measures the average time it takes your sales team to respond to a qualified prospect, starting from the moment they become a lead through an inbound channel. Typically, you may have seen 25 seconds as a “good” speed-to-lead benchmark.
Here’s the problem: Speed-to-lead is outdated. In our buyers’ reality, speed only gets you so far — it’s customer experience that really matters. Any good salesperson can pick up the phone in 25 seconds or less. It’s no longer a luxury; it’s an expectation.
At Harte Hanks, we advise focusing on speed-to-qualification instead. This metric doesn’t just rely on speed-to-conversation, but also meaningful discussions: Did the conversation actually provide value? Speed-to-qualification focuses on routing every inquiry to the most relevant seller, each and every time. This helps sales organizations land more appointments based on worthwhile engagement, not just quick, weightless responses. By doing so, sellers boost both customer satisfaction and conversion rates while still shortening sales cycle length.
2. Email engagement
Email engagement is any action that suggests the receiver is interested in your offering. It’s one of the most useful metrics to measure email quality, helping leaders and SDRs make their outreach more targeted and in line with their prospect’s expectations. While there isn’t one clearly defined “engagement” metric, we can measure audience email engagement using the metrics below:
Open rate: The number of emails opened, divided by the number of emails sent. Open rate can be used as a top-level overview of campaign health. The higher the open rate, the better.
Click-through rate: The number of recipients who clicked on a link in an email campaign, divided by the number of people who received the email. CTR is a great way to gauge buyer sentiment. It helps sellers to tailor their campaigns, in order to achieve better conversion rates from their efforts.
Response rate: The number of responses received, divided by the total number of emails sent. A high email response rate should be the intended outcome for any email campaign. This will obviously vary based on the industry, sector, geo and persona being targeted.
Opt-out rate: The number of people who unsubscribe after an email is sent, divided by the number of recipients. A high opt-out rate can be a red flag for obvious reasons. It suggests that you’re either reaching the wrong audience, or your messaging just isn’t targeted enough.
3. Call-to-connect rate
Call-to-connect rate is one of the best inside sales call metrics for measuring the quality of cold calling outbound strategies. It’s the number of high-quality connections a sales rep has, divided by the number of calls made. As a rule, an increase in connected rate equals an increase in direct sales opportunity.
Whether a seller is speaking to a decision maker or a gatekeeper, a high call-to-connect rate shows accurate prospect targeting. It’s a sign that outbound efforts are doing enough to speak to prospects on their terms, at a time and place and in a style that satisfies their needs.
4. First time appointments (FTAs)
The goal of outreach is to convince a prospect to engage with what you’re offering them. To create a steady first touchpoint before moving them further through the sales funnel.
While the objective of any sales rep is to get an appointment the first time… a lack of success may not be their fault. As a sales leader, it’s important to track success on a macro level. You need to learn where cadences should be tightened for greater engagement and ROE.
Tracking the FTAs your strategy generates will offer a healthy insight into overall prospect engagement. FTAs are crucial pivot points that don’t just make or break new sales pipeline shots. They also reveal high-attention areas to be improved in the sales cycle.
For example, if you run multiple cadences at once, FTAs offer a clear view of the success of each cadence. This helps leaders to judge engagement in real-time and subsequently tailor programs in line with their best-performing strategies.
5. Adoption rates
Designing a best-practice sales process or play will have a major impact on win rates, forecast accuracy and rep performance across your teams. That’s not to say that it will work from the get-go. If your team doesn’t adopt your new initiatives, or shows apprehension, performance is unlikely.
It’s unfair to expect sales reps to switch to a new process right away and without anxiety. In fact, a Gartner survey of more than 2,000 reps found that 62% of seller burden could be attributed to complex internal processes that reps were asked to follow.
Tracking adoption rates provides a clear, structured overview of play performance. Sales reps have been known to jump the gun to get an instant return on investment. They can stray from the path of a well-defined touch pattern to chase commission.
On a rep basis
If an adoption rate sits below a benchmark, this is a good sign that your strategy isn’t working for that person. In this situation, it’s important to stress the purpose of the cadence to that individual — especially if that’s visibility or name recognition, rather than immediate win rates.
On a team basis
If adoption rates are low across the board, it suggests that a rethink is required at strategy level. Adoption rates beneath your set benchmark generally account for misfiring processes, or overzealous benchmarking that isn’t rooted in accurate, historical performance data.
As businesses continue to invest heavily into inside sales, accurate metric setting becomes invaluable. In fact, it’s critical if you want to stay competitive, keep growing and expand your pipeline.
Ultimately, your business will be able to analyze metrics, gain thorough feedback and dig deeper into messaging performance. Then, you’ll be able to understand what motivates buyers in the sales funnel, making it easier to engage existing customers and attract net-new prospects.
Business Intelligence Senior Manager at Harte Hanks Sales Services. A specialist in giving decision makers the insights they need to strengthen their teams and tell their story within their data.