Companies often use sales metrics as a barometer for determining the health of their sales pipeline. However, they also use them for forecasting. That means making decisions based on the wrong sales analytics results can have significant consequences for the company.
Here, we’ll explore how you and your sales operation can move beyond vanity sales metrics to focus on the results that matter to your business. We’ll also focus on how your sales analytics relate to your organization’s maturity.
The information below was derived from a recent webinar by Aptitude 8 featuring Lily (Linquata) Austin, Principle Advisor, Value Engineering at SalesLoft, which is freely available to view.
How to Think About Maturity
The best way to measure the maturity of your sales process is to think about how you are aligning solutions to drive impact and outcome. Many organizations approach their sales strategies and value propositions from a single entry point, such as through technology. But before they can reach maturity, they soon discover that they must master many other dimensions of their strategy.
Generally, there are five dimensions to master. These are:
- Technology: Software, hardware, infrastructure.
- Data: Input data (including its quality, reliability, recency, and enrichment) and output data (including value drawn from that data).
- Process: How well your leaders have implemented systems for new hires, high performers, and low performers to follow.
- Adoption: The ease with which your teams take up new technologies and processes.
- Content & Messaging: The quality of what you say in your value proposition and your go-to-market strategy
Your company’s level of maturity is based on the sophistication of these five separate but interconnected dimensions. It’s important to understand your strengths and weaknesses on this continuum, so you can identify where you’re going to invest and how you’re going to align your teams.
By assessing where you are today, you can identify what to focus on, then plot how to make iterative gains.
A Note on Technology
There is a massive spectrum of where you can invest in technology. However, there are pitfalls to investing in certain technologies if they don’t have a foundation to stand upon.
For example, most companies could invest considerably in AI, as this is an innovative technology that has wide-ranging implications for both sales and marketing. But if they don’t have the internal resources in place to manage an AI program and draw value from it, they could be wasting their resources. The AI program won’t become valuable until the foundational elements of the program, such as infrastructure, process, and adoption, are fixed.
Many companies begin to mature by entering via the technology dimension mentioned above. This can serve as a starting point, but you must optimize the four other dimensions before investing considerable resources into technology.
An Example Model for Maturity
Reaching maturity has been a years-long process for most companies, and many are still in the process of reaching their goes. Most companies begin this journey with a basic marketing, sales, and CRM operation, combined with content and an initial analytics capability.
Reaching higher levels of maturity enables companies to adopt a revenue operations (RevOps) strategy. This type of strategy is supported by synchronized and enriched data, widely used best practices, forecasting capabilities, and more. Reaching this level of maturity is also crucial to moving beyond vanity sales metrics and harnessing more value-oriented metrics to guide your business.
Here’s how SalesLoft lays out its maturity model:
- Process: Sales Ops Team
- Content & Messaging: Email Frameworks
- Data: Prospect, Customer Data
- Technology: CRM Live
- Adoption: Reps Work Online
- Process: Established Return on Equity (ROE)
- Content & Messaging: Ownership Assigned
- Data: Select Data Partner
- Technology: Complete Stack
- Adoption: Auto Activity Log
- Process: Playbooks Created
- Content & Messaging: Centralized Online
- Data: Complete, Enriched
- Technology: Systems Integrated
- Adoption: Systems Utilized
- Process: Persona or Stage
- Content & Messaging: Persona or Stage
- Data: Informs Next Step
- Technology: Bidirectional Synchronization
- Adoption: Best Practices
- Process: Active Coaching
- Content & Messaging: Dynamic Per Input
- Data: Predictable
- Technology: Continued Investment
- Adoption: Social-Economic-Psychological (SEP) Adopted
Many teams who approach companies like Aptitude 8 have reached the “Targeted” stage of their maturity journeys. They are on the cusp of achieving a value-based RevOps operation, but they need some assistance with their technology and their internal processes.
For example, Aptitude 8 assists many of its clients with systems integration, which promotes bidirectional data synchronization. This is a crucial component of RevOps operability.
Vanity Metrics vs. Value Metrics
When it comes to vanity metrics and value metrics, it can be difficult to decouple what you’re attempting to measure from where you are as a company. Vanity metrics measure activities that appear to support productivity on the surface but don’t generate value, such as revenue, process optimization, or adoption. That makes them more-or-less irrelevant from a RevOps perspective.
Common vanity metrics include the following:
- Activities Per Rep Per Day
- Number of Emails
- Number of Calls
- Account Coverage
- Meetings Booked
- Opportunities Created
These metrics may be worth tracking, but they shouldn’t be components in your RevOps calculus.
Value metrics should contribute directly to how effectively you can measure your maturity. However, more importantly, they should be a strong measurement of the value your activities are generating for the business. That value can come in the form of revenue, but also technology and process adoption, pipeline health, response rates, and more.
Common value metrics include the following:
- Process Adherence (Cadences, Sequences, Flows, Playbooks)
- Response Rate, Response Sentiment
- Connect Rate, Sentiment Analysis, Average Talk Time
- Coaching Provided Per Meeting, Coaching Moment Trends
- Stage Velocity
- Pipeline health as Informed by Data Hygiene
- Attribution to Inform, Iterate On, and Improve Processes
As you can see, these metrics are circular. They reinforce each other, so they should be considered holistically. Even if only one metric seems to be wavering, it could be an indirect result of deficiencies in another metric.
For example, pipeline health is informed by data hygiene. If your data isn’t supporting your pipeline health, it could be because your data isn’t clean. This, in turn, could be directly related to issues of process adherence with your data flows.
Audit Your Efforts to Determine Effectiveness
Continue to measure traditional sales metrics like closed and lost deals, but make sure you are also recording important data related to those metrics.
For example, if you lost an opportunity, there should be a record as to why. The same goes for your closed deals.
You can use these reports later to inform improvements to your processes. Determining what caused you to lose a deal might prevent you from losing a similar one in the future.
Conduct audits of your closed/lost reasons regularly. Keep in mind that every part of your process is connected. Discuss your closed/lost reasons with your sales team, but also meet regularly with your marketing team to ensure their long-tail funnel management is supporting sales.
Finally, once you reach a high level of maturity, you can focus on tightening up reporting on specific metrics to gain more insights. These insights will allow you to make more iterative improvements and make ongoing data-driven decisions when it comes to resource allocation.
To kickstart your maturity journey and start focusing more on value metrics, don’t hesitate to contact us at Aptitude 8.