Goals and KPIs so you can measure, monitor and control

Goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are a wonderful thing. They can provide direction and clarity, unity and focus. However, defining and agreeing on them may not be straight forward.Goals force choices. They may be incompatible or you may not have the resources to pursue all the goals you want to. Choosing to do one or some things may mean choosing not to do other things.Tracking and monitoring progress towards your goals helps you make better decisions, particularly about the allocation of resources.Marketing and Sales are pretty fundamental areas to the success of your business. Yet setting goals is becoming increasingly difficult, due to rapidly changing market conditions and approaches to marketing and sales.The good news is that technology for marketing and sales, and all the applications now available, makes collecting and analysing numbers much easier, online at least.The caution is that you need to take care over what you measure, as there are several pitfalls that could cost you time and lead to decisions being taken on inappropriate data.Here are some strategies, approaches and tips to help you improve your sales numbers, and the process to collect them.

The benefits of Goals and KPIs to tracking to manage your Sales Funnel

In a business to business sales environment with complex sales campaigns over extended time periods, or with incremental sales building up into higher value clients, monitoring progress at the various stages enables better decisions to be taken.

  • Goals – the overall goal of the business, division, campaign or process enables Better allocation of resources, of time and money. To answer questions like ‘Which market sector, product, channel, campaign and so on where most successful, and therefore which should we spend more time and money on in future. Also, which was least successful, and should we look to stop, or not repeat.
  • Control and confidence. As competition increases, as sales cycle time in some cases reduces, as margins get thinner, it helps to be reassured that you’re on track and the business, which relies on Marketing and Sales, has a firm and predictable foundation.
  • Reduced risk and uncertainty. Moving to a place where you can manage by exception would be ideal for many business owners. Reducing the number of hidden surprises within the business by being able to have pre-emptive conversations with colleagues and the team to fix out-of line situations helps with overall business operations.

Three types of Goals and KPIs

Setting a framework for what you measure will form the baseline for the data and your ability to make decisions on it.

  1. Numbers ‘at a point in time’ – these are useful for accountants and bankers, for example – when they draw up a balance sheet and record assets and liabilities. If you are monitoring your net worth year on year, or are aiming at an exit strategy from the business these are very useful numbers.
  2. Numbers ‘over a period of time’ – these are more useful to business operations such as marketing and sales. The value of sales, the number of leads, number of proposals written during the period are examples. The period might be a year, a quarter, a month, a week, a day, and hour or ever a minute, for something like a call-centre or a website.
  3. Numbers ‘for a specific activity’ – this is a combination of the two above. A specific marketing campaign, the cost of sale for a specific bid, are examples where an activity has taken some time to complete and what is being added up are the resources that went into the activity, set against the outcomes achieved.

Four major uses of numbers for the Sales Funnel

For monitoring and tracking marketing and sales activities and results the following uses are fairly common practice:

  1. For planning and subsequent review – to take a phrase used in schools – ‘Plan, Do, Review’- where you identify the outcomes you want, then you work towards them, and then at some point you look at the results and look back and see what went well, and what could be improved. This can apply to pretty much every marketing and sales activity, from the headlines to the minute activities.
  2. To look at trends over time – looking back over a time-based series can quickly reveal whether something is increasing or decreasing. There may be influencing factors to take into account, such as if your business is seasonal, but then find the right time period to be and looking back at a measure Trends
  3. To look at comparisons between activities – so an example might be comparing lead generation methods, between online and offline, between website, phone and direct postal campaigns.
  4. To look at a sequence of activities – where one activity hands on to the next, the conversion rate is an indication of quality, not just quantity. Did inquiries from one campaign convert to sales better than leads from another campaign, is an example.

Pitfalls with measuring, monitoring and tracking

There are many factors that can reduce the validity of data and information to marketing and sales decision-making. Here are some to watch out for:

  • Accuracy – sometimes it’s not possible to be precise – for example several activities may have contributed to an inquiry, but you may not know precisely which.
  • Completeness – sometimes data is not recorded, such as when a call comes into reception that becomes an inquiry, but through the sequence the precise source is not recorded.
  • Timeliness – data that takes too long to analyse may no longer be relevant – where there is a long sales cycle running into several months the validity of the lead generation activities of over a year ago may no longer be relevant
  • Granularity – where a large number of small, repetitive activities or outcomes are being recorded then analysis and fine tuning is more feasible, such as on a website. Where a small number of discrete activities are performed, such as selling large and complex projects, there are many influences that reduce the validity of measurement of the minutae.
  • Cost – this can be significant, especially when it’s a manual process. Sales people especially are being paid to sell and not to record data to feed into what may be seen as a black-hole.
  • Value – this depends on the quality of decisions taken and implemented as a result of all the data capture and analysis.

What Goals and KPIs are important to set and monitor?

Measuring, monitoring and tracking the right things can contribute to a significant improvement in business performance, and marketing and sales is no exception.

As the title suggests, choose the KEY indicators, the top-level numbers that you can track on a periodic basis, probably monthly, and which you will act upon to bring them back on track if they waver.

Each business owner, director and manager will come to a view on what is right for their needs.

However, if you’d like a ‘starter for 10’ we’ve prepared a checklist of KPIs that you might find useful.

Enter your details below and you can find the link on the ‘Thank-you’ page.

NB. Going deeper into this topic of Business Intelligence is a specific area, with strategies, approaches, tools and techniques. If you want additional information in this area we can sign-post you.

How Wurlwind can help you define and monitor goals

Here are just some of the ways Wurlwind can add value and help you get on track

  • Review and help you to define top-line goals for your business or for specific campaigns
  • Help to create a hierarchy of goals that will help you structure activities and resources
  • Identify the major stages of marketing and sales, and identify appropriate measures and goals
  • Find the key goals for lead generation in order to combine to create and deliver your sales target
  • Put in place appropriate online tracking, for your website, social media and advertising to track ‘eyeballs’
  • Identify ways to improve conversions to turn visitors into inquiries and into leads.

Published by Mark Stonham

I help Business Owners and Sales Leaders to improve lead generation and create new sales opportunities through effective use of LinkedIn for themselves and their business. Techniques include Targeting, Trigger Events and Re-Framing the proposition to start sales conversations. In particular I work with technology businesses, professional services firms and knowledge sector organisations.

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