The five most meaningless sales metrics you’re still using


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The only thing that really matters in sales is closed business, but to get there (and to help your team more predictably exceed expectations month after month) there are always a series of leading-indicator metrics we track to ensure we’re on the right path, that our proven processes are being followed, and that activities are being executed that will lead to closed business.

Unfortunately, in our zeal to measure and manage, we often focus on the wrong metrics. If left unchecked, this not only allows reps to game your system, but can also reinforce and/or require behavior that is in fact counterproductive to finding, qualifying and closing good business.

Here are five of the most meaningless metrics still actively tracked and enforced in many current sales organizations.

1. Dials
Of course, the one thing that every sales rep can control is how often then pick up the phone and talk to a prospect. They can’t control inbound lead volume, market conditions, weather events or other external factors. But they can control dials.

Problem is, dials rarely if ever have a direct, independent correlation to pipeline-building and closed business. When aggressive dial expectations are in front of a sales rep, they too often fill their daily-dial quota with unqualified dials, too many dials to a not-ready-to-buy prospect, or (if they really want to game your system) they’ll dial the same dead phone number over and over to inflate their numbers.

There’s no question that increased activity can lead to more opportunities. But dials alone – without watching list quality, dial-to-conversation conversion, and output of dispositioned leads and/or new opportunities – is a shallow and often irrelevant number.

2. Demos or appointments scheduled
The idea of tracking appointments isn’t the issue. It’s doing it without context or qualification that represents the biggest challenge for sales organizations nationwide. A demo or appointment should imply a level of interest on the part of the prospect. Even if you’re offering something of independent value in exchange for some of their time (a market analysis or audit or similar), the rep shouldn’t even waste their time with the demo or appointment if the prospect hasn’t been pre-qualified somehow.

A good rep who wants to inflate her numbers will grab time with as many prospects as possible, even though most of those conversations are going nowhere. Her appointment metrics look great, but with low conversion she’s not creating real closeable pipeline (and wasting time that could have been spent qualifying other prospects).

3. Talk time
Sales managers often incorrectly correlate talk time with quality prospect conversations. In some cases that may be true, but it’s not universal. Long phone conversations (especially with early stage prospects) can just as often be small-talk than qualifying. Small talk can be great for rapport-building at the early stages of a sale, but it can also fill valuable selling time with chatty prospects who like to talk but have no intention of buying (or who may not be qualified as a near or long-term buyer at all).

This is also one of the easiest metrics to game. Smart reps can dial a number and leave their phone off the hook when taking a break or leaving for lunch. They might also fill their talk-time by checking in with existing or past customers to see how they’re doing (which often leads to more small talk). Good relationship-building for the company (and sometimes for a renewal or upsell), but not always the new sales rep’s job.

4. log-ins
This metric is especially used in field sales environments, where reps are distributed and not in the office often. The assumption is that log-ins are equivalent to how often they’re working, or updating their pipeline. Even if you want to better enforce CRM usage, this metric is completely irrelevant. Sure, if a rep hasn’t logged in for over a week, there’s probably something wrong. But having this one on a metrics scorecard belittles your reps and takes focus away from externally-focused metrics that really matter.

5. Logged activities in
Let’s just say that nobody is going to get an award for recording the most touchpoints and actions with a prospect to get the sale. Measuring daily actions (calls, voicemails, emails) without context or qualification not only is way too broad of a metric, but the micro-management implication to the sales team is nearly always counterproductive.

Rather than measure overall logged activities, start with a well-defined sales process and intent for each action. Ensure that certain logged activities or milestones imply a commonly-understood level of qualification or progress with the prospect. That way, you’re looking at the right metrics, but also can better interpret what they mean as it directly relates to pipeline size and velocity.

What other sales metrics do you see that have little value or meaning on successful management or pipeline output?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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