A Metric's Evolution - By Imogen McCourt

By Joanna Velarde posted 21 days ago

In 2009 I built the internal Sales Enablement practice at Forrester Research, while Forrester built a Client-facing research practice. We positioned the value of Sales Enablement as a way of maximizing the return on the cost of sales and marketing. Armed with a simple model and a large ‘cost of sales’ number, we were looking to justify an increase in our Sales Enablement budget. Our key metric was a long-term lagging indicator: annual ‘cost reduction’ versus ‘growth improvement. This approach failed to resonate with sales because it needed to see more immediate impact like connection to quarterly quota achievement or increased leads in the sales pipeline. What’s more, internal partners in sales and marketing were challenged by the implication that their operational costs were considered “waste”.
While our early efforts did not please everyone, they represented a good first stab at sales enablement measurement which remains a core responsibility of the function today. The hunt for the most effective performance indicators is still a hot topic and remains a driving quest for Sales Enablers everywhere. And, over the years, my thoughts and practices have evolved on measurement.
Identify mutual indicators: Where there is friction there is a KPI.
Since Sales Enablement is a truly collaborative function, cross-functional partners in revenue operations should align to find mutual success metrics. The right mutual indicators can provide guidance for improvement to all stakeholders in both the short and longer term. Here are some examples:
  • If there is a problem with lead conversion and follow up time… spotlight marketing’s impact on the pipeline stages. Agree to mutual SLAs on new leads and report on conversion improvements.
  • If training attendance is an issue… Look to showcase L&D’s impact on new sales joiners’ quota attainment after three months. Measure again after six months
  • If Sales Manager coaching needs more attention… Sales leaders can work with sales enablement to highlight the performance of teams and individuals attending training versus those who did not.
Don’t be the whole solution to a small problem; Be part of the solution for the big ones.
Over time I have aligned initiatives to corporate growth objectives, company values, and employee satisfaction. I’ve tracked other metrics like the cost required to earn a new customer, the lifetime value of a customer relationship, sales cycle times, productivity improvements, average deal size and first touch on new leads. These measures scatter my CV and my team’s quarterly reviews. With Executive teams I highlight “doubling of valuation” or “double digit growth” contribution because that will keep budget coming to Sales enablement.
Own the narrative of the results achieved. Tell people what it means - not just what it is. 
Your sales leaders and managers expect great reporting– so go further; own the narrative and the changes required.  Simple data-driven feedback loops from the CRM help focus time and attention on what did make the sales cycle go faster. Reduce noise in the pipe and stop ‘busy’ distracting work that takes sellers away from clients. It may not feel popular to show marketing that their whitepapers make no difference at the beginning of the sales process, so highlight what content does work instead, and why. Don’t forget about qualitative measures too. Do product teams align to stages in the buyer cycle or the sales process?  Can digital marketing teams articulate when in the buying cycle their content is consumed by prospects and customers.
Pass on the credit for success 
Shared metrics mean shared challenges and potentially shared success.  Don’t forget to share the love.  In the end your internal influence and resource engagement will be your true, leading KPI. It will determine your ability to make the necessary adjustments to improve and continue to deliver results.

Written by :
Imogen McCourt- Founder, Head of Commercial Transformation and Revenue Enablement Practice at Rising Tide