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What is an important KPI that you see sales teams completely missing?

Brian Tino
Brian Tino
AlphaSense Director of Strategic Sales, EMEAJanuary 26

In my experience, two of important KPIs that most sales teams miss are:

  • Number of purposeful conversations
  • Number of experiments

And it makes sense because both of these metrics harder to 1) define and 2) measure over time. However, if done well they can be can be two of the biggest unlocks and fastest ways to progress a developing go-to-market motion.

Number of Purposeful Conversations

Many sales teams measure number of contacts sourced, outreaches made, calls/demos completed, etc. While these metrics all help better understand the economics of your sales funnel, they all miss the context of the conversations your team is having (ie. the quality).

In order to measure "purposeful conversations", first you need to define what that means for your organization and sales motion. Each company may define "purposeful" slightly differently, but ultimately it needs to be a conversation in which both parties were engaged, explored problems that your solution could solve for the customer, and lead to an honest discussion about the viability of your product or service helping that customer's specific pain points. If there are tweaks or additional critieria you need to add on to customize the definition for your organization, go for it!

The next step is to determine how you’re going to measure it. Usually I've seen this done as a new "Activity Type" in Salesforce (or whichever CRM you use). It requires training your team on what qualifies/does not qualify as a "purposeful conversation" and then enablement on how to properly log it in your CRM.

By orienting your team around this type of a metric, it unlocks the quality of conversations and gives you as a sales leader the opportunity to probe in more deeply with your reps to understand why certain conversations were purposeful while others were not and allows you to begin to see patterns to focus your efforts towards generating more purposeful conversations.

Number of Experiments

Whether you’re first getting started and in the early stages of validating product-market fit, identifying your ideal customer profile, or refining your sales motion; or even as you mature as an organizion and are looking to move into Enterprise, launch new products, or break into new markets...experimentation is critical.

To find the right recipe for success, you're likely going to need to test different personas, outreach techniques, messaging, narratives, objection handling, etc. The more experiments your sales team is able to run, validate in the market, learn from the results, and share those learnings, the faster your sales team is able to find success.  

Work with your team to build a light weight framework for tracking & documenting the experiements you have in flight. At the very least, make sure you capture:

  • What you want to test? (Hypothesis)
  • How you plan to test it? (Experiment)
  • What did you learn? (Learnings)
  • How those learnings will affect your next experiment? (Next Steps)

If your sales team gets great at documenting your go-to-market experiments & learnings and is able to scale the number of experiments running at anyone time, there is no greater unlock to your velocity. 

Katie Harkins
Katie Harkins
UserTesting VP of SalesFebruary 9

An important KPI that I see sales teams completely missing is how many chorus or gong calls were listened to in a month//quarter outside of YOUR calls. It's important to learn from your peers and other people who are successful in your role. Even if it's a different segment or different vertical. You can still listen to someone's pivot points or how they sell around common objections. I recommend downloading the Chorus//Gong mobile app and listening to calls when you're driving or working out. Mark Cuban says, "Time is the most valuable asset you don't own." 

Your ability to blow past your quota consistently is your ability to manage your time.

Roee Zelcer
Roee Zelcer
TikTok Head of Sales, Products & ServicesFebruary 10

Naturally, in most cases, sales teams are mainly measured against revenue. This could come in many forms such as potential revenue such as leads, MQLs, SQLs, etc., or actual revenue from active and existing clients. I think there is one main KPI that is commonly overlooked, and that is the quality of the relationship with the client. This is a critical aspect that more often than not, is not measured. And I completely understand as it is incredibly difficult to do so. While a great and trustful relationship with a client will not always correlate with revenue in the immediate term, this is the key metric that will ensure long-term partnership and mutual accountability going forward. A great sales representative will forgo short-term gains in order to build a long-term partnership.

Nick Feeney
Nick Feeney
Loom VP, RevenueMarch 10

As mentioned earlier, KPIs vary depending on the business and teams specifically. Below are a few metrics that I find businesses neglect to prioritize:

  • Employee satisfaction
    • Retention
    • Burnout and mental health are critical topics managers should be maniacally focused on
  • Manager call reviews (Gong, Chorus)
    • Managers should be constantly providing constructive feedback and hearing more from the customers' voice in order to improve performance and sales motions
  • Delineating engagement by location and persona
    • Far too often I see leaders report total metrics without the proper insights into trends by geo, title, etc.
  • Discounts
    • How often are you bringing in revenue at your list price?
    • Are we losing deals due to costs? Budget?
    • Why, how, and when are we discounting and how does that impact the business?
  • Proposals sent
    • I’ve seen frontline managers assume that their reps have sent a quote or order when a buyer has reached a certain stage. Never assume.
  • SLA
    • How long does it take for your inbound team to follow up with a lead?
    • What percentage of leads are followed up with?
    • How quickly do your AEs follow up via email with a summary from a discovery call?
  • Meeting acceptance rate
    • % no shows
    • % conversion by title and location
    • Conversion rate
      • Lagging and leading indicators/trends
  • Opportunity lifecycle
    • % of opps by stage
    • Length of stage progression
  • NPS
    • Promoters vs. passives vs. detractors
    • Customer lifetime value
Beau Noonan
Beau Noonan
Matterport Enterprise Sales DirectorJune 8

Rep ramp-up time in my opinion is something that I've seen companies completely overlook. Given the boom tech has been on over the last decade many companies have skipped tracking key fundamentals from the moment you decide to hire the rep to the moment they hit quota due to them smashing their numbers.

A key example of this is certifications around product knowledge. Assessing an AE's product knowledge and understanding of the enterprise software solution they are selling is key to this period. This can be achieved through role-playing, pitch certification, standing and delivering on specific product value props, etc.

We've veered away from rigorous sales onboarding training in exchange for throwing them in the deep end quicker hoping they'll hit quota, succeed, and contribute to the company without laying the proper foundation.

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