There are thousands of articles out there that promise to make your sales reps better, faster, and stronger. They contain tips and tricks, call scripts, subject line suggestions, and more. We know many of you read this advice and share it with your teams — you’ve told us so.
But when it’s all said and done, how do you know if your reps have actually improved?
“Good performance” goes beyond quota attainment (though it’s certainly important). It’s a mix of factors, and you’ll have to look at multiple data points and more substantive assessments to judge whether your salespeople are performing well or not.
We’ve broken down the most important factors you should consider to evaluate sales performance here.
(Don’t have a CRM system recording this information? It’s not too late — get started today with HubSpot’s free CRM software.)
Quantitative Metrics to Judge Sales Performance
1) Company-wide quota attainment
Quota is a quick and dirty way to assess high-level sales performance. While you’ll need to dig far deeper to truly understand how your team is doing, company-wide attainment is a good way to tell whether you’re setting quota too high or too low.
Only about one-third of salespeople achieve quota, so use that as a benchmark. You should strive for a higher level of attainment, but if a huge portion of your sales team consistently hits quota with flying colors, it may be time to raise quota. Research shows that 75% of top sales organizations raise quota by 10% or more each year.
2) Historical quota attainment per rep
Of course, quota attainment can’t be accurately understood by looking at one month or quota in isolation. There are many reasons a salesperson would miss quota — seasonality in your business, a sales contest that motivated reps to blow out their pipelines one month (leaving them with far fewer opportunities to work next month), or even personal circumstances. But these factors aren’t anything that’s truly indicative of overall performance.
Instead, examine a salesperson’s last six or nine months to complete the picture, and look out for upward or downward trends. One bad month shouldn’t impact this trailing quota, but you’ll be able to spot trends if you look at historical data.
3) Average sales cycle length
Another useful metric that reveals a salesperson’s strengths or weaknesses is their average sales cycle length. Compare their length to your company-wide average. Do they have a significantly longer or shorter sales cycle? Find commonalities among the stragglers and the top performers.
4) Net new opportunities
Tracking how many net new opportunities your reps are creating against their prospecting activity accomplishes two things.
First, it’s an easy way to tell whether they’re prospecting enough. If they’re consistently missing quota and their number of net new opportunities is fairly low, you’ve probably spotted the problem. But if they’re generating enough new opportunities and failing to close them, you’ll have to dig deeper.
Second, it shows whether they’re prospecting well. If your reps are generating enough opportunities to hit their quota based your company’s typical opportunity-to-close rate, yet are still missing their number, there are two possible explanations. Either they’re recording unqualified opportunities, or they’re losing control of the sales process somewhere along the way. (See #7 for more detail.)
The Qualitative (But Still Measureable!) Side of Sales Performance
5) Buyer persona proficiency
Understanding your business’ buyer personas is the key to being able to prospect quickly and effectively. Make sure your reps are bringing in the right types of customers and targeting the right leads. The clearest way to measure this is through churn rate. Reps who bring in lots of customers that stay with your company for several years are able to identify good fits, but salespeople whose deals churn out in a month or two aren’t selling to the right people.
(Of course, this assumes you’ve found product-market fit. If churn rates are universally high, it doesn’t necessarily mean your reps are subpar — your product just may not be mature enough to meet your buyers’ needs, or you may need to target a different persona.)
6) Product expertise
This is slightly more difficult to measure, but there are a few ways to track product expertise. Are your reps attending product trainings regularly? Are they keeping up-to-date with marketing collateral and company news? At a minimum, reps should understand how to implement every part of your product and its function.
At a higher level, the best way to test product expertise is to see whether your reps can formulate coherent plans with their prospects. Whether it’s having your managers sit in on goal-setting calls or roleplaying with their reps, this step requires a bit more substantive digging, but has huge payoff if you identify core flaws that you can correct.
7) Ability to correctly qualify and disqualify
Qualification is the one skill that ties together every part of sales. Being good at qualification is crucial to sales success — it’s a continuous process that reps use at every step of the sales process to determine whether a prospect is a good fit, what they need to solve their business pain, and why they would or wouldn’t close.
Look at your reps’ conversion rates through each step of the sales process as compared to the rest of the company. If they’re losing a ton of prospects between the connect and exploration stages, for example, they’re not being discerning enough about disqualifying prospects after a discovery call. On the other hand, if they have very high conversion rates post-discovery but are still missing their number, it’s possible they’re spending too much time on research and could increase prospect outreach without sacrificing quality.
Ultimately, the message your metrics send you depends on any number of factors that are unique to your business, and it’s possible you’ll need to look at more (or different) numbers than the ones listed above. However, if you track these seven factors, you’ll have a solid base on which to build your own sales performance rubrics.