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Instrument and Fine-Tune your Sales Process using Leading Sales Indicators

You have your sales process in place. The individual stages are clearly defined. They are all well delineated and progressive. The sales team have been trained, so there is a common language for deal discussions. And managers are busy reviewing deals to make sure they exhibit the right characteristics to be in the stage they currently reside in.

So, we are set on that front, right? The answer to that one is an emphatic no. The investment to get to this point will have been considerable but you should think of this as the beginning not the end of your work.

Most folks aim for a 5-7 step sales process. The thinking being that simplicity drives success. Your sales stages might look something like this:


Stage #1 - Prospecting

Stage #2 - Qualification

Stage #3 - Needs Analysis

Stage #4 - Value Proposition

Stage #5 - Negotiation

Stage #6 - Closed (Won/Lost)


This is a perfect start. But to really fine-tune your sales process and associated sales machine we need to get much more granular than this. And we need to become data-driven. Doing so removes all elements of gut-feel and intuition and injects some much-needed science into the art of selling.


Manage the Sales Process Using Leading Sales Indicators

The next step along the journey requires some hard thinking about the leading indicators for each and every stage of your sales process.  If it helps, think of ‘leading sales indicators’ as the ‘high-value sales behaviours’ you would expect to happen at each stage.

In reality, they are the high-value steps that move deals along the sales journey towards the closed/won stage! Let’s take a closer look:

Lagging Sales Indicators track what has happened (think of them as rear-facing). For example, ‘Close £100K per quarter’ would be a lagging metric. And because they are rear-facing, lagging KPIs are very hard to influence. By the time you have measured the outcome it’s too late to influence it. Which is why sales leaders focus on leading indicators.

Leading Sales Indicators are the steps needed to reach our lagging metric (think of them as forward facing). For example, we know that if we book enough senior level meetings we are likely to close more revenue. So, a good leading KPI would be ‘book 5 exec-level meetings per week’.


Sales Process


Deal-based leading sales indicators

Let’s look at a few examples that are relevant to a deal travelling along the sales process

  1. Identify decision maker

  2. Identify influencers

  3. Capture meaningful next steps

  4. Identify need & pain points

  5. Confirm budget

  6. Identify competitors

  7. Issue proposal

  8. Create close plan


If you have documented the leading indicators you would expect to see for deals, then you are ready to move on to the next step.

It’s now time to stop thinking about individual deals and start thinking about sales rep cadence.

What are the high-value sales behaviours that you would expect your team to perform during each stage. You should apply a volume and time element to these.

Let’s explain by using some more examples:

Cadence-Based Leading Sales Indicators

This time, let’s look at a few examples that are relevant to a sales rep’s activity across the various pipeline stages

  1. Book 5 exec-level meetings per week

  2. Create 30-leads per week that match the buyer persona

  3. Convert inbound leads within 24-hours

  4. Make 20 meaningful calls per day

  5. 4-Hours talk time per day

  6. Create 5 pre-pipe opportunities per month

  7. Send 30 BASHO emails per week

  8. Issue 20 proposals per month


In summary, we should be seeking to track the performance of individual deals and individual reps using leading sales indicators. And, in essence, these are the high-value sales behaviours we expect reps to exhibit and deals to have had performed on them.

If we can track these behaviours, we can measure and manage them. We can also analyse them to determine:

  1. The profile of a healthy deal by sales stage (what a ‘good’ deal really looks like)
  2. The cadence of a top performer by sales stage (what a top performing sales rep really does)


Clearly, once we have uncovered these we can motivate every rep to:

  1. Manage their deals to match the profile of ‘good’
  2. Up their sales cadence to match that of top performers

In essence, we have created 2 sales-process ‘leading indicator maps’. The first that charts exactly what is takes for a deal to successfully navigate your sales process. And a second that outlines the cadence of a top performer. Both by sales stage.

With me so far? The key is to not think about fine-tuning your sales process in terms of changing the sales stages. Lots of folks get wrapped up in sales stage definitions or bogged down adding new and unnecessary stages. In fact, entire books have been written on the subject!

The real way to increase sales performance is to instrument the process such that you can monitor and fine-tune these two sales process leading indicator maps. If you do that you will have cracked the code that will propel you far ahead of your competitors.

However, the challenge has always been that it’s not possible to track these leading sales indicators. From the examples given above, it’s clear they are often quite complex in their nature. And many of them occur over an elapsed time period only adding further to the complexity.

This is precisely what SuMo was built to address. SuMo delivers the ability to track ‘high-value sales behaviours’. Both the positive sales behaviours you want to promote more of and the careless behaviours you seek to eliminate.

In fact, using SuMo, Vodafone increased its sales productivity by 187%. Qlik grew pipeline opportunities by 140% and increased lead response rate by 230%


Want to learn more?

Take a quick look at our ‘4 steps to a clean and healthy pipeline’.



Alternatively contact us to discuss how we might replicate these results in your organisation. 

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