Know Your Sales Metrics

There are two steps to achieving any goal. The first step is to determine the exact goal you want to reach. The second is determining how you'll get there. With regards to sales quotas, your sales manager will usually tell you what your goal is, which takes care of step 1. Knowing how your sales metrics are shaping up is the key to making step 2 work... unless you know how well you're doing on a day-to-day basis, you won't know how quickly -- or slowly -- you will reach your eventual goal.

If you're not tracking any of your sales activities right now, don't try to keep records on all of them right from the start. Begin with a few of the most basic and telling metrics. For most salespeople, that would be the number of cold calls you make, your total number of appointments set, and your total number of sales closed. Those three numbers will help you to track how well you're converting prospects to customers, which is certainly crucial information.

Keeping track of the three basic metrics will allow you to figure out whether your pipeline is sufficiently large to meet your sales quotas. For example, say you have a quota of 40 sales per month. When you divide the number of sales you closed by the number of cold calls you made, you discover that you have a lead conversion percentage of 8%. So to find out how many cold calls you need to make in order to get 40 sales per month, you divide 40 by .08. Now you know that you'll need at least 500 cold calls per month at your current conversion rate in order to reach your minimum quota.

If you plug in your current numbers and discover that you need to make way more cold calls than you'd like, the solution is to raise your lead conversion percentage -- to close prospects more efficiently. In the above example, if you could raise your lead conversion percentage to just 10%, you'd only need to make 400 cold calls per month instead of 500. In order to raise that number, you need more information. Specifically, you need to figure out where in the pipeline those sales are dropping out. Here's where the number of appointments you set is helpful. If you reached your 40 required sales last month by making 500 cold calls and had 120 appointments, that means you're setting appointments on 24% of your cold calls and closing one in three of those appointments. If that percentage of appointments per cold call seems too low to you, it may be time to brush up on your cold calling technique.

You can narrow down your weak point in the sales process further by tracking additional metrics. Once you get into the habit of noting down your numbers, it's not difficult at all. Some other metrics you can track would include:

-Number of business cards you hand out
-Number of business cards you collect (at sales events such as trade shows, for example)
-Number of contacts made with a prospect during the sales cycle
-Length of each sales cycle (the number of days between your first cold call and when you close the prospect)
-Number of referrals requested, received, and closed
-Number of thank-you notes and other correspondence with customers
-Up-sell attempts and number of successes
-Amount of time spent on activities not directly related to sales (filling out paperwork, attending meetings, driving to appointments, etc.)

The specific metrics that are most helpful to you will vary based on your usual sales activities and on your company's quotas. For example, if you are required to close a certain number of up-sells, then tracking your up-sell percentages will be extremely helpful. If you don't have an upsell requirement, it probably won't be important for you to know.
Wendy Connick
Wendy Connick> all articles
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.