What Key Performance Metrics Should Sales Managers be Held Accountable to?

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I recently attended a sales conference where CEOs, vice presidents of sales and other sales speakers spoke about such great topics as sales enablement, sales compensation and my topic, building high-performance sales teams. 

A participant asked a great question: “What key performance metrics should sales managers be held accountable to?” It was a great question because most of the presenters, including me, had focused our content on what the sales team should be doing – or not doing – to ensure sales success. 

What gets measured improves. And yet, many sales managers aren’t held accountable to specific leadership and management KPIs. Too often, the only KPI being measured is a lagging indicator: achievement of the monthly/quarterly sales goal. 



What aren’t measured are the sales-management activities and behaviors that CREATE consistent achievement of sales goals.

There are several sales management KPIs to consider. They vary by the tenure of the sales team, type of sales team they’re managing and market share. Here are a few to consider to help your sales managers be even more successful.

1. Ride-a-longs. This activity can be applied to field or inside sales. There is nothing that replaces hearing and seeing real live prospect/client/salesperson conversations followed up by real-time sales coaching.

2. Pre-briefing calls. I worked with a group of sales managers that had an immediate lift in sales success because they established a KPI around this activity. They established “X” amount of pre-briefing calls each week with their sales team to make sure the reps were READY for the sales call. We taught them the “What if” approach to sales coaching, which really helped the sales managers identify potential gaps in execution BEFORE the sales meeting.

  • What if the prospect won’t give you a range of budget?
  • What if the prospect doesn’t have real pain? Need?
  • What if a new decision maker shows up at the meeting?

3. Debriefing calls. The research is clear that we all think we are better than we are. Debriefing a sales meeting with a specific checklist eliminates subjective thinking, denial thinking, as the salesperson quickly discovers questions he missed or didn’t answer fully.   

4. Recruiting and interviewing potential sales candidates. Anyone besides me held onto a poor performer too long? You are conducting ride-alongs, pre-briefs and debriefs, and that sales dog still doesn’t hunt. The reason you’re still hanging onto this poor performer is because you don’t have a full salespeople pipeline. It’s the same reason your sales team members hold onto unqualified prospects in their sales pipelines.

5. One-on-one coaching meetings/group sales meetings. I remember interviewing a successful sales manager who had 16 direct reports. Yes, the number was too high. But for a variety of reasons, it was the sales manager’s reality. This sales manager had every excuse to be inconsistent in holding a weekly one-on-one meeting with sales team members, i.e., not enough time, I’m getting pulled into other company meetings, every other week will work. 



The sales manager shared her reasons for unwavering discipline and structure. “I have a really good group of salespeople,” she said. However, it’s easy for them to get distracted from executing the right selling behaviors when we miss our weekly coaching sessions.” This smart manager realized she was dealing with human beings. And human beings perform better with consistent coaching and accountability.

Companies, stop doing a disservice to your sales managers and start measuring the sales management behaviors you know lead to consistent sales revenues. 

As business guru Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Good Selling!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Colleen: good point about measuring the value of holding sales managers accountable for leading indicators. The challenge is knowing which ones best portend the desired results.

    The value of holding managers accountable for lagging indicators, such as quarterly revenue achievement, should not be minimized, however. When a sales team is achieving its revenue commitment, senior management assumes that the sales manager is doing the right things, including hiring, coaching, mentoring, staff development, and resource management.

    What about other measures? In particular, the qualitative and quantitative assessments of salespeople about the value their manager provides to them? Or, the assessments of customers about their customer experiences? A sales manager directly influences these results. They are critical not only to the efficacy of the sales organization, but to the company’s revenue strategy.

    In addition, one company I worked with measured sales management on the percentage of reps in a territory making goal. This was important to ensure that territories were divided fairly, and prevented favoritism, and encouraged managers to make sure all staff were provided equal support and opportunity to achieve quota.

  2. Great points and I agree lagging indicators are important. With that said, I still see too many sales organizations not measuring the leading indicators, some of which you mentioned. I.e. Conversations with clients about their experience with the company. Thanks for sharing!

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