There’s no question that an effective sales enablement function leads to improved performance and quota attainment. Yet most organizations don’t measure the effectiveness of their enablement efforts, whether it’s sales training, sales coaching or content. Less than one-fifth of organizations use leading and lagging indicators to understand the ROI of their enablement investments or measure their attainment of milestones or productivity, according to the 4th Annual Sales Enablement Report from CSO Insights.
Before you invest in sales enablement, you need to establish a key set of performance indicators to measure your progress. This allows you to prove the value of sales enablement to the executives at your organization.
Unsure where to start? Follow these recommendations for building and measuring a sales enablement framework.
Start with Identifying the Right Metrics
For the most accurate read on your sales enablement efforts, you’ll need to implement a range of metrics, depending on the maturity of your organization’s sales enablement processes and your goals.
Your metrics should mostly be objective, meaning that they’re easy to measure accurately, using precise numbers, such as win rates, quota attainment, revenue, sell cycle length or deal size. But combining objective indicators with subjective metrics, such as anecdotal evidence and verbal feedback, adds useful context to the numerical evidence that you gather, so we recommend that you collect both.
As an example, begin with evaluating a specific element of your sales enablement program, like a training program designed to improve sales conversations. Identify your goals, like shortened sales cycles or larger average deal sizes from those sellers who took the program. You can track sellers’ metrics in those areas and see how effective the course was in meeting your goals—you can also gather subjective metrics, like feedback from sellers or their managers to fully assess the ROI of this training investment.
It is also important to use leading indicators rather than exclusively on lagging metrics. Leading indicators become your organization’s early warning system: these signals tell you what results to expect, often months ahead, unlike metrics that evaluate past performance.
How to Identify and Use Leading Sales Enablement Metrics
Objective metrics include data points like revenue, win rates, quota attainment, average deal size, and sales cycle length. Unfortunately, these metrics all focus on past performance and only allow you to make decisions by looking backwards. Another approach is to supplement lagging indicators by tracking leading indicators of productivity and future performance. Try tracking leading metrics that help sellers maximize their selling time, such as these:
- Reduction in the time that sellers spend searching for content
- Conversion rates between phases of customer’s journey (which leads convert into opportunities)
- Selling time
- Ramp-up time for new sellers
- Ratio of first contact to follow-up meetings
- Number of buyer contact attempts required
- Ratio of marketing-qualified leads to sales-accepted leads
- Buyer email response rates
- Open rates for content shared with prospects and customers
Sales organizations measure these metrics in different ways. For example, conversion rate could be tracked by the volume of leads that turned into an opportunity within a time frame or the financial value of leads that turned into a buying customer within a particular period.
It’s important to note that revenue didn’t make our list of useful metrics. Not only is it a lagging indicator, but it’s also unreliable for measuring sales enablement. Though it’s a critical measure of an organization’s overall success—and one that captures the attention of executives—too many factors contribute to your revenue for it to make a meaningful statement about your sales enablement efforts. In other words, there is no direct, causal relationship between revenue and sales enablement.
How to Use Subjective Sales Enablement Metrics
Another important tool is to collect and assess subjective metrics—they’ll augment the hard data that you collect. For example, you might ask your salespeople to explain why they preferred one content asset to another or how they use your sales playbooks and other tools to grow their sales—things that objective metrics won’t capture.
Additional ideas include:
- Seller competencies as assessed by sales leaders
- Anecdotal feedback from stakeholders on the executive advisory board
- Verbal comments on productivity from frontline sellers and sales managers
- Success case stories from sellers linking enablement, performance and sales results
- Qualitative voice of customer data
- Win/loss qualitative data
How an Organization’s Sales Enablement Maturity Level Affects Metrics
Our Sales Performance Meter assesses your maturity level, enabling you to choose the right metrics to support your sales enablement efforts. From there you should choose the right metrics to match your enablement objectives, enablement charter and sales enablement maturity level.
Organizations just starting formal enablement initiatives should pick a just a few meaningful metrics that focus on achieving sales enablement milestones and add more productivity and performance-based metrics over time. More mature organizations should focus more on leading indicators.
For additional insights into which metrics are right for your organization, check out our book Sales Enablement—A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force.