The keys to defining and tracking the right sales metrics

In an effort to bolster efficiency, many companies throughout the United States and even across the globe have placed a great emphasis on "big data" and sales metrics. By evaluating the tracking the numbers, many businesses feel as if they are in a better place to exact new plans and initiatives that will help them improve their output.

Sales is no different from any other department in that regard, and many managers are trying to identify the best sales metrics that can be used to bolster efficiency. Forrester Research analysts Boris Evelson and William Band recently broke down the answer to this question in a blog on Computer World.

The two analysts recommend a top-down approach in which the team first defines the overall sales strategy and then identifies goals and objectives that need to be achieved to make the initiative successful. Typical areas that reporting and analytics could support include sales results and tactics, product profitability, pipelines and plan variance. Data can be used to effectively assess a sales team's ability to hit these objectives.

So which metrics can be evaluated? That depends on the goal, Band writes. Sales results should be monitored against goals such as new customer sales in dollars, percent sales growth and number of sales orders. Metrics should include average sales per order, average units per order, customer credit balance, customers credit limit, customers, lost customer count, new customer count, sales order count and units delivered.

Understanding a sales plan or strategy is crucial to the success of a sales team. Everything managers do should be reactionary to these methods.

For example, if a company is trying to sell a new product, managers may want to consider incentivizing those goods and giving salespeople greater commissions for pushing them. Or, if total sales numbers aren't meeting company goals, businesses may want to consider investing in sales coaching to provide agents with the skills and insight they need to improve.

New technology has driven companies' ability to measure and analyze everything about their sales approaches. By leveraging this data and analyzing metrics, businesses are able to create better sales strategies and achieve greater success.