Part 4: Sales KPIs You Shouldn’t Care About (and the Ones You Actually Should)

Friendly reminder that this is a successive series. I won’t pressure you to read every part, but you should really read Part 1 if you haven’t yet.

Don’t be “that” manager.

You know, the one refreshing the activity dashboard every 15 minutes and sending screenshots to reps about their sales key performance indicators (KPIs).

Get your call volume up image for sales KPIs article

30 minutes later, the dashboard is refreshed, and the call volume is 101 percent (mostly due to dead dials). 

It’s a good short-term win (for Lumbergh), but did anyone have a live conversation with a prospect? 

To be clear, sales KPIs are super important. But right now (especially in a remote-first environment), you need to pick your battles on which KPIs will have the strongest correlation to success. 

In Part 4, we talk about which KPIs you shouldn’t care about, and more importantly, the sales KPIs you should be monitoring.



Sales KPIs You Shouldn’t Care About 

OK, let’s get this out of the way: Here are the ancient sales KPIs you shouldn’t care about (at least right now):

Emails Sent

  • This used to mean something when everyone wrote their own emails. But now, 90 percent is cued up in a cadence and automated at scale. This is not a sign that a rep is necessarily working hard.

Call Attempts (notice the key word.. attempts)

  • I know I’ll get ripped for this one, but hear me out on this. We’re based in California, where everyone is still working from home. Desklines are going straight to voicemail. Cell phones can be tricky. Call attempts (no VM) are not necessarily the best KPI to track. But live conversations are gold. More to come on this.

Average Contract Value (unless it drops dramatically)

  • Sorry to break it to you, but the word is out and every buyer is asking for a discount–and getting it, without question. Unless your average contract value dramatically decreases (30 percent-plus), don’t sweat it. Just worry about getting it booked. 

Deals Stuck in “Budget Approvals” Stage

  • Trust that your reps are doing everything in their power to help your champion push this deal through, and it might truly be out of their control. 

Got it? Cool. Now, let’s move onto the good stuff.


Sales KPIs You SHOULD Care About

Do you know why the ocean never freezes?

Because it never stops moving. 

And it’s full of salt. Like, lots of salt.

Here are the sales KPI’s you should be tracking and paying close attention to so your team is more like the ocean and doesn’t freeze up. 

Spoiler alert: The most important sales KPI has nothing to do with your prospects or customers.


Let’s break it down by role:


Sales Leaders 

Stop trying to track a million different KPIs. Pick 1-3 metrics to monitor on a weekly basis and build up from there. Track the ones that will be the best leading indicator for your team’s success.

I’m only going to start with one: Total Pipeline Created

    • This should be tracked week-over-week.
    • You should have two tabs: Raw Data and Summary.

Raw Data Tab: 

    • Well, you guessed it: just data. No talking points.
    • Meet on Tuesdays for 30 minutes to discuss the prior week’s numbers.
Total pipeline created, raw data tab

Summary Tab

    • Craft a story around the numbers. Include anecdotal feedback from reps as well as general trends you’re seeing. 
    • Meet on Thursdays to discuss the prior week’s summary.


“60 percent of our Inbound Opportunities had an HQ in Europe.”

“We continue to hear feedback that leads are looking to shift their events budget into digital.”

“While our overall number of Pipeline Opp’s decreased, we had three reps on vacation last week”

While obvious, I need to state that you should be aiming for an upward trend. If it dips, look into all of the inputs. Try to figure out where the dip is stemming from, and create a hypothesis around how you can fix it. 

Once you have a solid grip on Total Pipeline Created, start adding additional metrics like Closed/Lost, Marketing Leads → Sales Accepted conversions, and so forth. 

What do your bosses’ bosses care about? Sustainable growth. You need both data and a story to back up how you’re going to maintain growth.


Account Executives

Have you heard of the term sales velocity?” If not, it might be time to hit the books, this is an important one to read up on. Sales velocity helps track how fast you can convert leads into closed/won. While this may vary for every rep–an SMB rep will have a different velocity than an Enterprise rep–the goal is to get better at understanding how much revenue you can expect to bring in over time. Here’s how to calculate it:

how to calculate sales velocity

Source: Marketo

For example:

Shamus Sales Velocity = (25 Opportunities * $50,000 ACV * 30 percent Win Rate) / 60 days average deal length


My hypothetical sales velocity is $6,250, meaning I’m bringing in $6,250 of revenue per day. 

The goal is to increase your sales velocity over time, as you should be closing your pipeline quicker and quicker over time (exceptions of fluctuations for seasonality, PTO, etc.). Take this formula to your sales manager and ask “How can I increase my sales velocity?”


Sales Development Reps

I’ll be honest: You have the toughest job in sales right now (especially the outbound reps). You’ll be able to tell your grandkids you were an outbound rep during COVID.

The No. 1 metric you need to focus on is conversations. 

Yes, interaction with your leads, not just touches (i.e. calls, emails). I don’t have a fancy plug-and-play template for creating this. I’m going old-school with this recommendation. 

Action item:  Create a Google Sheet and record the various types of responses you’re receiving from leads and prospects. Emails, texts, LinkedIn messages, Tweets, etc.  Show that you care enough to gather your own feedback (outside of your logged activity in your CRM) and share it with your manager. Position it as your own experiment and learnings rather than “well, I missed my number and here’s why” Ask your manager, “is this information useful? What else can I do to help gather feedback?”

spreadsheet with info from leads and prospects

But Wait! There’s More

Last, but not least. The metric you may have forgotten about.

You improved your competitive kill sheets.

You updated the website with new customer logos.

But something is still off and you can’t put your thumb on it… 

The “metric” you may have forgotten about, and arguably the most important one: your team’s wellbeing.

Sales leaders: You’re asking for a lot right now, but are you doing your part to give back to your reps? Treat your own team like you would treat your customers with a “How can I help?” attitude. 

A few ways to get a temperature check on the team:

Quick Pulse Survey. In your next 1:1, ask your direct reports three simple questions:

  1. What are you most excited about this week?
  2. What are you least excited about this week?
  3. What’s your favorite part about being on this team?

How’s their morale? Sit silently on their next call. Are they excited to chat with prospects or do they sound defeated from the beginning?

If things are a little “off,” it’s likely due to burnout, stress, or distractions outside of the office. 

Tips for avoiding burnout:

  • Set clear expectations for when you expect your team to be online and responsive on Slack, email, etc. Even if you preface with “you don’t have to respond now,” it’s a complete reverse psychology case study, and I’m probably going to respond. 
  • Have them put “lunch” blocks on their calendar. 
  • Zoom fatigue is real. Encourage phone calls when video isn’t necessary (that’s why Airpods were invented, right?) and start doing more walking meetings.
  • Time off: Leaders need to take time off to show that it’s OK to do so. When people are on PTO, encourage them to silence their phones or shut off push notifications. Let’s be honest, we’re not saving the world and it can wait until tomorrow. 
  • Weekly Roast: ever get off a call and feel like you completely bombed it? Or couldn’t remember the name of the person you were talking to? Yeah, I do. All the time. Lighten the mood and have a fun “roast” where you can get in a good laugh over a flub from the week. Sales leaders should kick it off. 
  • Send thank you cards to your direct reports (via snail mail).

Closing Tip for Energizing the Team

“If you have any good ideas, send them my way!” 

– every VP of Sales ever

Yeah, that never happens. 

Instead, introduce a sales team hackathon to spark new ideas (not a coding hackathon). 

Form guidelines for what you’re trying to solve (i.e. avoid churn, increase pipeline, etc.), create small teams and have everyone share their ideas during a Friday team meeting. You’d be surprised at how in-touch your team is with your prospects (we know management can get inundated with internal meetings, so it’s good to get grounded and come back to reality for what prospects really want versus what you think they want).

OK, stepping down from my soap box.

In Part 5, I’ll talk more about what to do if sh*t hits the fan and none of this works. 

Hit me up on Twitter and we can continue the conversation (@shamu5noonan)


– Shamus (the sales guy)

Find this article helpful? Check out the rest of this series!

  • Originally published May 19, 2020, updated October 21, 2020