Sales Activity Reporting – Better Results Through New Metrics
If you manage a sales team you manage metrics. Sales is by far the most metric-driven department in most organizations. Outbound activity, conversion rates, deal progression, forecast amounts, quota attainment, and more are all measured carefully. However, most sales leaders will admit that they have vast amounts of data but are still lacking insights into what is working and what to do next.
With the data platforms and machine learning algorithms of today, however, more metrics and measurements are available. These metrics make it worth revisiting what we measure and how we manage to maximize the effectiveness of our sales efforts.
What Questions Are We Trying To Answer?
The first step in any reporting and analysis effort is to understand what questions you are trying to answer. For sales teams, this often means a combination of how they are actually performing, and a set of measurements of what underlying activities are leading to that success (or lack thereof).
- Sales Success: Measurements of sales success such as total sales, percent quota attainment, discounting, etc, are final results of the selling effort, and as such they remain very valuable metrics, but metrics that have not needed to change much with new data sets available. Underneath the question of “is this rep succeeding at selling?” are three questions that build up to that ultimate question.
- Raw Effort: First of all, you need to know if the sales rep in question is putting in the effort. Are they reaching out to the accounts they should be. Are they reaching out broadly at each account. Do they follow up. If the work is not happening, the results will not be there.
- Tactical Conversion: Ultimately, winning the deal is the key determination of sales success. However, at each stage, more “tactical” conversions show whether the road to success is smooth or not. Are their outreaches responded to? Do their discovery calls lead to broader engagement? Can they successfully build relationships with senior executives? Each of these tactical conversion points can pin-point where they are struggling to move buyers towards close.
- Strategic Focus: If the sales rep is putting in the effort, and their efforts are working (tactically), but they are still not closing deals, it can only mean that they are focusing on the wrong things. Understanding challenges in focus helps sales leaders coach reps on how best to have their work translate into revenue success.
The best sales leaders work hard to understand the path to revenue within their team across these areas, and at any point be able to hone in on the root of discovered challenges. New metrics, however, are rapidly making it easier to understand any challenges that are impacting the overall growth of sales.
What Has Changed in the Data?
Two main areas of innovation have added to the data available to tackle this overall challenge:
- Instant and Complete Data Capture: with the help of artificial intelligence and big data processing, it’s possible for the first time to be able to capture all the interactions your team has with prospects. Every contact, created in CRM. Every activity logged with zero clicks and zero effort. Every person on your team. This gives an unprecedented completeness of data that allows you to look at activity reporting in ways that were never possible before.
- Relationship Data: similar advances in technology and data processing mean that it’s possible to measure the strength of every relationship your team has with buyers – as they grow and decay. This means that activity reporting becomes much more viable as the interim efforts that go into relationship building can be measured, rather than being stuck with only measuring the final sale.
With these changes in data, it’s possible to tackle the challenge of sales activity reporting from a fresh perspective.
New Metrics, New Measurements
This new data allows innovation in all the key areas of sales activity reporting, except, of course for the final step of revenue. Each organization my measure their sales activity in a variety of different ways, so we will look at a few core ideas in each of the main categories, to give you a sense of how you can innovate your activity reporting for your specific organization.
- Raw Effort: Here, the ability to automatically and completely capture every contact and every interaction is key. With this data in place, measuring outbound emails per week, accounts that have not had outreach in 14 days, and external meetings booked, becomes a trivial exercise. Dashboards and leaderboards can make this almost self-managing.
- Tactical Conversion: With relationship data in place, the tactical conversions that mark the success points of a good sales activity logging approach are now easy to measure. New relationships built, existing relationships strengthened, accounts that are single-threaded, and executive relationships developed are all simple to dashboard in Salesforce or whatever CRM system you use.
- Strategic Focus: While you may be able to understand sales rep challenges in strategic focus by reviewing individual deals, the better way is to look at patterns over time. With contact capture, activity logging, and relationship measurement all automatically taken care of, you can easily dashboard and understand which of your reps struggles to build executive relationships, or is hesitant to reach out to legal or finance.
Data leads to insights, and high quality data is the best path to high quality insights. Adding automatic contact capture and activity logging, as well as relationship tracking and measurement, improves your sales activity reporting immensely. Management and strategic insights into your sales team are easy to find through understanding how each activity ultimately drives the success your team needs to see.