Posted on 22 August, 2018 | 3 min
Always be closing. It's an aggressive sales strategy popularised in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross and a throwback taken to heart by some of the world’s most belligerent salespeople. But that doesn’t mean your sales key performance indicators (KPIs) have to be stuck in the ‘90s, too.
In fact, in the age of eCommerce, “always be closing” is a completely different proposition for your business, as you remain always on and ready to take orders—and sales KPIs have changed too. Up-to-date, well aligned and modern KPIs are about replacing guesswork in your sales forecast with smart, quantifiable goals.
Sales key performance indicators are actually some of the best KPIs to set. Why? Because when it comes to sales, everything is measurable. And that’s good for business.
So, in the spirit of a Glengarry-style pep talk, we’ve pulled together five tips to help you set, track, meet and surpass your sales KPIs.
1. Set clear, measurable sales KPIs
A quick refresher for those asking “what are KPIs”. A key performance indicator is a value you'll measure to find out just how effective you are at achieving your business objectives. You already measure sales with numbers, so picking some sales KPIs is relatively simple.
We recommend having only a few KPIs for each of your business areas. Just focus on your priorities (that’s where the word ‘key’ comes in). Keep your sales KPIs brief and easy to measure. You should be able to sum up these metrics in a few words.
Three popular sales KPIs examples are:
- Monthly sales growth: your weekly sales figures by month, which reveal how you’re doing compared to a previous time period.
- Gross profit: daily absolute gross profit, which can indicate how efficient your sales are once your overheads are accounted for.
- Sales per employee: helps establish a sales baseline and determine the strengths and weaknesses of each person on your team.
We recommend these because they help tell you the story of your business sales at a glance, but there are many more to choose from, depending on what you value as a business objective.
2. Keep an eye on your indicator metrics
Your KPIs can help you run a smarter, more successful business. But in order to do that, you need to track them against your current business activities. Your indicator metrics help you understand why your KPIs are going up or down, so you can take action.
For instance, if you’re gross profit is showing a decline, you might want to look at your top selling products and product gross profit margins. With that information, you can make changes to push for an upward trend in your gross profit KPI.
Alternatively, you might be able to increase sales numbers by rostering your best salespeople to your most profitable days of the week—simple actions based on real insights from your business apps.
A sales KPI gives you the clue that something needs to change, and your supporting metrics—be they around customers, staff or money—help you make smart decisions about what will have a positive impact on your business.
3. Marketing—harder to measure, crucial to meeting your sales KPIs
Whether you’re a marketing whiz or not, your small business or startup needs marketing to help meet your KPIs. Aligning your marketing efforts with your Sales KPIs brings you closer to having the business you want.
Put simply: marketing puts your brand in your customers’ brains. The best salesperson in the world will be less than useless if you can’t bring customers to them, and you’ll have no chance of hitting your sales KPIs.
With the right data, you understand what brings people to your business, and start doing more of it.
With today’s digital options, anyone can run a marketing campaign, run an electronic direct mail (EDM) campaign or create some sponsored social media content to drive more customers to your business. To boot, there are a range of marketing apps to give you more bang for your buck, with things like marketing automation and campaign management.
Trial a few options to discover which has the greatest impact on your sales KPIs. More customers equals more sales, which brings us to our next point.
4. Customer support equals sales support
Creating a culture that values individuals can correlate with sales KPI growth. There’s good economic reason to treat customers with care. Customer experience is one the highest sales benchmarks, and research shows that high-performing sales teams are 2.8x more likely to have a much greater focus on personalised customer experiences1.
Giving that little bit extra builds customer loyalty which helps to increase those sales KPI numbers. Plus when you’re good to your customers, they tell their network and bring new sales potential into your business.
Customer support can feel like it’s a slow way to improve your sales KPIs. How to tackle that? Use cloud tools that help you automate customer support, consider implementing more personal communications (like live chat) into your website and present clear information to improve your customer support and simultaneously boost your sales.
While we’re focussing on customer support, we also think it’s worth mentioning that happy staff can also have a positive impact on your KPIs. Remember Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross? Basically avoid his "motivational" tactics.
One of the sales KPIs we most recommend is ‘sales per employee’? Giving your employees a supportive boost tends to make them more invested in your overall business. They’ll then work harder to improve your sales. And guess what? You can measure that. That goes for measuring the results of any sales staff training, too.
5. Track your sales KPIs to make decisions along the way
The main role of your KPIs isn’t bragging rights—they exist so you can make smart decisions along your business journey. The secret to reaching your goals is to continuously track your KPIs and use that information to make decisions that will have a real impact on your business.
For that, consider a data dashboard. With the right KPIs, your data dashboard essentially becomes a KPI dashboard, helping you keep an eye on your progress and make tweaks to your direction along the way.
With the right tools, when it comes to your sales KPIs or any other business objective, you can “always be tracking”. It’s the modern-day version of “always be closing”—except, we’ve found, with less Alec Baldwin and more measurable success.