Michaela Mendes
Head of Content & Strategy
Table of contents:

Last year’s sales playbook may not be effective in today’s selling environment. 

Time to close is going up. Customer retention is getting harder. Layoffs are happening across the board, both in your target accounts and potentially in your own team. 

In a recent Stripe survey, 82% of businesses reported concern about the current state of the economy, and 45% were worried about cash flow.

In the face of these mounting challenges, successful sales teams are still able to increase win rates and hit aggressive revenue targets. But how? 

First, you need a clear picture of what’s going on in your deals and what your reps are doing.

Second, you need to know what rep activities help close deals. These are the leading indicators you’ll double down on in your sales process. 

What is a leading indicator?

A leading indicator is a data point that predicts performance in advance – before it’s too late to change the outcome. 

When you know the leading indicators for your sales process, you can focus your reps on doing more of the behaviors that matter. 

Traditional sales metrics vs. leading indicators 

Sales leaders often look at the number of calls, emails, or meetings a rep has to do to hit their quota. 

The problem? These metrics can be manipulated easily. And they may not matter all that much. 

For example, a rep may send out 100 emails, and that might look good to leadership. But when you take a closer look, half of those emails may be to the wrong audience, and the wrong time, with the wrong message. 

Throw out the old playbook for analyzing rep performance and instead grade reps on how they perform on the behaviors that lead to actual results.

For example, your sales data might show that reps who connect with someone in a target account who is a VP level or above within the first two weeks of the sales process have a higher likelihood of closing the deal. Instead of focusing on their email send count, they can focus their energy on working to connect with the stakeholders that matter. 

5 questions to start identifying leading indicators in your sales process

Since every sales process is unique, your team’s leading indicators of success are also one-of-a-kind. And you might be surprised at what matters, and what doesn’t.

Here are five questions to help you start figuring out what’s working in your sales process:

#1: Are most deals multi-threaded? Does this matter?

Involving multiple stakeholders is key to advancing deals quickly and successfully. Or is it? 

For example, you may find that your multi-threaded deals have a higher close rate because you have more insight on the goals and timings of the organization. 

On the flip side, you may find that your multi-threaded deals have the same or lower close rate, yet require more time and resources for your sales team.

Either way, you should look into the percentage of deals in the pipeline that are multi-threaded, and see if there’s a positive correlation with win rates.

#2: Are reps meeting with prospects often enough, and at the right times? 

Lots of emails are great – if they’re turning into meetings. Are your reps having the right amount of meetings with each account? 

Also, the timing of the meetings can be a leading indicator of success. Are reps able to get prospects interested to get on a call early enough? 

Maybe certain reps send follow-up emails directly following each meeting, and those deals are more likely to close. 

You can structure your sales process to ensure every rep is on top of their follow-up email timing.

#3: Are prospects talking about the right things?

What terms are prospects bringing up? There could be a list of conversation topics that indicate a tendency to close. 

For example, you may find that when certain aspects of pricing are discussed in email, reps make better progress moving the deal forward faster. 

Are your reps leading the conversation in the right direction? 

#4: How soon do prospects want to try the product?

Demos – are they happening, and when? It’s possible that the timing of a demo in the sales cycle could be a strong success factor for winning deals. What’s the current trend in your pipeline?

#5: How quickly do reps get in touch with procurement? 

Often, SetSail customers see that when their reps are able to get in touch with internal operational stakeholders such as procurement leads, deals are on the right track to success. 

Is this the case for your team? What could your reps do differently to work towards this milestone?

How to find the leading indicators in your sales process

For enterprise sales teams, there’s a treasure trove of insights hiding in your sales data.

But you’re facing a few problems:

  • Your CRM is missing a ton of data and it’s siloed across tools. 
  • You’re relying on salespeople to manually input information or anecdotally fill you in. 
  • You can see what deals are in what stage, but it doesn’t tell the story of what you could do to move it forward. 

SetSail is purpose-built to ensure your CRM data is complete, and mine it for insights. SetSail looks at over 400 signals to track your revenue team’s leading indicators of success.

Here’s how it works: 

Step 1: We automatically update Salesforce and your analytics tools with sales data from across your go-to-market stack. 

SetSail captures every relevant email, meeting, and contact, and writes that data back to Salesforce. That gives you the data foundation you need to find your leading indicators of success.

Step 2: Analyze the data to discover the signals that lead to more revenue

SetSail uses machine learning to identify the sales activities that lead to better outcomes. This lets leaders know what good looks like so they can improve rep behavior across the board.

Step 3: Focus rep activity on what wins

Give your reps a straightforward checklist of what to do. 

Ready to find your leading indicators with SetSail? Try a demo.