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Spending money on sales and marketing, but not sure you’re getting any return? Then it’s time to make sure you’re measuring the right things. Some performance indicators may be easy to track – like social shares – but how do you know if they are adding to your bottom line? To be sure you’re spending in the right way, take a look at this key set of sales and marketing metrics…

Many small businesses see sales and marketing spend as a cost they can do without: according to research published in Marketing Week, just 20% of UK SMEs thought spending more on marketing would lead to further growth in 2015.

So if you want to secure budget for your activity, you need to show some evidence of return. What are the key sales and marketing metrics for small businesses that you can use to demonstrate exactly what’s working and what isn’t?

1. Website traffic

When you start delving into marketing metrics analysing traffic to your site can provide you with a broad range of insights into the effectiveness of your marketing activity, but you need to keep a clear idea of what exactly you want to find out. 

Typical traffic data includes number of page views, visits and unique visits, for example. Each can provide you with different information about your business.

But it’s important to think big picture. Monitor the growth of your web traffic over long periods and don’t get too hung up on spikes or dips if you know the cause – product launches may naturally lead to spikes, and Christmas or summer lulls can also have clear external causes. Comparing year-on-year will give you a much clearer idea of whether or not you’re moving in the right direction.

The source of your traffic can tell you more about which of your marketing efforts are working most effectively. For example, if you run the same online advertisement, competition or other marketing initiative on a range of sites appealing to different types of consumer, then analysing the referral rates from these sites can provide you with valuable information about the kinds of consumers you should be targeting. 

Alternatively, running different advertisements on the same site and analysing clickthrough rates provides a simple way to carry out A/B testing on your messaging to understand what works best and what doesn't.

Search data is also important. Look at the keywords used by your visitors in organic search too – can you see an increase in referrals for topics you’re talking about in your blog? If so, that shows your content marketing efforts are effective. 

If you’re paying for traffic that isn’t converting then you know you have a problem that needs addressing: either you need to optimise the journey, or switch spend to more relevant sources. Correlate your traffic performance with other sales and marketing spend too. 

Traffic arriving directly to your site, or from Google searches for your company or product name, is a good indicator that brand awareness is growing. All marketing efforts contribute to brand awareness, so this is a useful measure to gauge the overall performance of your marketing as a whole.

Above all, always remember your website is your shop window. The more people you have looking through that window the more likely it is that someone will step through the door and buy something. 

2. Leads

Your website can be a hugely valuable source of sales leads – if you know how to capture them.

In order for somebody to part with their personal information you need to offer something in return. Whether it is an educational white paper or webinar, a free trial or a demo, the offer needs to be seen to provide enough value to the visitor to warrant them providing you with their name, number, email and whatever else you need to follow up with them and make a sale. 

The reality is you need leads to make sales. You need to be generating enough leads to keep your sales team busy (Here are some lead generation methods that won't break the bank for your SMB), but you also need to ensure they have the capacity to follow up on the leads they get.

Knowing how many you have, and whether that number is growing or decreasing year on year, is a key performance indicator of whether or not you're going to hit your sales targets. 

You'll soon learn how many leads you typically need to make a sale so you'll then be able to set lead targets and measure attainment too. 

Now join up the dots between sales and marketing and note which traffic sources generated the most leads. Consider focusing your marketing efforts here! 

Group leads by quality as well as volume. Agree on a lead scoring system for how cold or hot they are – for example, this could be based on the level of data they’ve given you, how many emails they’ve responded to, the nature of their enquiry, or the size and spending power of their business. Warmer leads will be more likely, and take less effort, to convert.

3. Lead-to-opportunities conversion rate

Remember that ultimately it’s sales that are important, not leads. So understanding how effective you are at moving leads to the next step in the sales process is an essential KPI for a small business. 

The next step isn't necessarily a sale: depending on where they are in the process, it may just be a phone conversation with a sales rep. A good rate of conversion from lead to opportunity shows you how effective you are at this stage, and how accurate you are with your lead scoring and prioritisation. 

This metric can also highlight any problems – the lead quality could be poor or your follow-up may need adjusting. Depending on how good your lead tracking is, you'll be able to see this information by tactic. You might find that you have a really consistent conversion rate across all sources except for one which is under-performing. This can highlight anything from a need for further sales training to a messaging issue.

As well as giving you that all-important evidence that your money is well spent, this level of intelligence allows you to focus your efforts in the right area, at the right stage in the sales and marketing journey.

4. Opportunity pipeline

How many opportunities are in your pipeline? Not enough and you won’t make the sales you need – too many and you risk losing business you don’t have time to convert. But you won’t be able to get handle on this core sales KPI unless you can define what an opportunity is. 

Many small businesses use a standard method for qualifying opportunities, called B.A.N.T. The lead must have Budget, Authority (they can sign off on business), Need and Time. Too often, sales teams flag an opportunity simply based on need – which gives you a pipeline inflated with a lot of so-called opportunities that, in reality, will never spend money with you.

The size of your pipeline is an important sales metric, but it’s also a planning tool allowing you to look ahead quickly at likely cashflow and resource needs. A KPI dashboard will really help you monitor this

You can now track your marketing spend one step further down the funnel, and use the size of your pipeline as an indicator of your combined sales and marketing performance.

5. Pipeline to actual closed revenue conversion rate

Knowing how well your sales funnel is working as a whole is an essential KPI. And while the conversion rate from pipeline to closed revenue is a blunt instrument, it’s a vital one.

It tells you how big your pipeline needs to be for you to generate more business. You can work backwards from there to how many more leads you need to convert, how many high-quality leads you need to do this, and where you’re most likely to get them. From here you can build a growth plan.

Split conversion rates by individuals or teams and you can begin to determine averages and benchmarks for performance. Examine the pipelines of the top performers and you’ve a clear sense of what they are doing right – are they getting more leads from a particularly high-converting source? Are they prioritising their leads in a more effective way? This detailed knowledge gives you the power to problem-solve and improve performance.

6. Actual closed revenue

How much money are you actually making? This is what all your efforts come down to. There’s no point generating traffic, leads and opportunities if you can’t turn them into actual revenue. Ultimately, this is the small business KPI that counts the most.

Revenue is the goal of all your activity, so it’s the most important one to measure. Done right, it’s easy to loop it all the way back to the beginning. 

By pulling all 6 of these sales and marketing metrics together you’ll close the circle and quell those fears that you’re wasting budget. Which traffic sources deliver the most closed revenue? Know this and you have the answer to marketing ROI. Monitor and map the entire customer journey so you can optimise and improve each metric and watch the effects filter through to your bottom line. 

How to keep an eye on these metrics…

Tracking is everything. You need to be able to track your website metrics with tools like Google Analytics or Omniture and you need to be able to track leads all the way to a sale with Salesforce Sales Cloud. This allows you to figure out what works and what doesn't and allows you to drive effeciencies and growth. With Salesforce Analytics Cloud you can even pull all this data together in one dynamic dashboard so that you have a complete view of your sales funnel in one place. 

IF you'd like to dig a little deeper into how best to align your sales and marketing teams and metrics, grab a copy of our Sales & Marketing Alignment Made Easy e-book right now.