Tracking one of the Most Important Sales Metrics in Salesforce

In our recent blog post – we explored the entire notion behind Leading Indicators, and why they are so critical if you want to properly manage your sales team.

In the post right after that – we looked at how Salesforce uses Activities, Log a Call, New Tasks and New Events to track what is going on between your teams and your prospects and customers.

Now we’ll look at how to tie the two topics – using your own Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, and utilizing Salesforce Activities. I’ll dissect how to customize Salesforce so that you can align your sales team’s identified KPIs, or Leading Indicators, with your Out-of-the-Box Salesforce functionality to give your sales leaders clear insight into who’s doing what.

Identifying your Sales KPIs 

At some point, hopefully, you’ve sat down as a sales team and explored what the key metrics are to determine the desired level of activity of your sales team. You may have identified two, three, four or more key activities, but chances are it’s not many more than that. And the obvious one that is almost on every list will be “Meeting with prospect”, or “Sales Call” or “Initial Sales Discovery Meeting” or something to that effect. I mean, there’s not really any more key activity than actually meeting – be it in person, or virtually – with your prospect, or customer, from a selling standpoint. If this activity is not on your list, then at some point you’ve missed the intent of the exercise.

Ok, so you’ve identified “Sales Meeting” as a key activity. Can you break it down further? Is there a distinction between a first “discovery meeting” and subsequent “follow-up meetings”? For your business and your sales cycle, maybe there and maybe there isn’t. But let’s say that you’ve isolated “Initial Discovery Call” as a key sales activity metric, for example. And let’s say that you’ve determined that three of these calls each week with a new prospect or existing customer is the appropriate amount of baseline activity for each salesperson on your team. That would mean that every salesperson, in this specific role, would be expected to have three new meetings per week with either a prospect or a customer, with the goal of starting a new sales cycle.

How Many? It Should be Black and White 

Now that the metric has been established, and the required number of times it should occur each week has been determined, you need to reinforce with every member of the sales team that this is the desired objective. So, come Friday afternoon, a salesperson and sales leader will easily be able to identify whether or not the goal was achieved. Three new discovery calls this week? Perfect. Target attained. Four new calls? Even better. Five? Wow! Six? Seven? Hmmmm. Are you sure? How good were these calls? Seems like a lot. Did you prepare properly for each one? Are they legitimate prospects? Are these numbers accurate or inflated?

When a KPI is established and a target placed around it, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that massively exceeding it is necessarily a good thing. It might be, of course. The salesperson may just have hit an unbelievable busy week, or perhaps marketing is doing an awesome job at driving new leads. But let’s make sure to check and see that these six or seven calls are of the same caliber as the three that we expect. Effectiveness – meaning how well we execute the activity – is just as important, if not more so, than efficiency – how often we do the activity. So, a large part of sales leadership is inspecting how well your team is performing the activities. And you can only do that from observations with your team. Ride alongs are an incredible and time-tested way of inspecting that the salesperson is saying and asking the right things.

Now let’s get back to the question of how many? You’ve established that three is an appropriate target. The beauty of selecting a definite value is this – there’s no ambiguity at all. You either met the target, or you did not. As our good friend Yoda likes to say – “Do, or do not. There is no try.” It’s black and white and leaves zero room for debate. Two meetings…nope. You missed the number. Close? Sure. But still a miss. (And you know what they say about close, right? It only counts for two things. If you don’t know, Google it).

Having a defined number makes life much easier for the sales leader. The conversation is straightforward.

Sales Leader: Hi Pete, let’s review the week. I see from the Salesforce report that you only had two new discovery calls this week.

Sales Rep: Yeah, I know, I had a third, but they cancelled last minute. The two I had though were really good though.

Sales Leader: Well, I’m glad to hear about the two good calls, and we can certainly talk about them. The goal here, though, is for everyone to hit three.

Sales Rep: Yeah, I know, but two’s not bad, right? I’ll get three for sure next week.

Sales Leader: You’re right, it’s not bad, but the objective is three. Glad to hear you’re committed to that number. Tell me a little more about how you plan to do that next week. 

This is the beauty of solid KPIs. There is no room for ‘maybe’s’. Either we met our objective, or we did not. The last thing a sales leader wants is a fuzzy target, or grey area, that can be endlessly debated by the salesperson as to whether or not it was achieved or not.

How to Configure and Capture KPIs in Salesforce

Ok, so if you’re still here and you’ve bought into this premise that a solid KPI is an essential tool in your Sales Leader arsenal, the next piece is to determine how you are going to accurately capture this information. Hello Salesforce Activities!

We’ve already covered how Salesforce Tasks & Events work from an out-of-the-box standpoint, so in order to use Salesforce to track your team’s KPIs you’ll need your company Admin to do a little configuration. Very easy stuff though for an Admin that knows their way around.

What you need to do now is to add a field to your New Task, New Event and Log a Call activities. It should be a single select picklist. You can call the field “Type”, but a better label might be KPI or Leading Indicator. This then will be completely obvious to your sales users what they need to track. Set the picklist values to the different KPIs that you and your team have decided to track. Note, don’t make it a required field, as not every activity will necessarily be a KPI activity. Some of your users will want to create tasks or events that don’t always meet the criteria for what your team calls a Leading Indicator or KPI.

OK, the next thing your Admin needs to do is display the KPI on these activities – Log a Call, New Task and New Event. For the Admins reading this, this procedure is a little different because there isn’t the usual Page Layout option on the Activities Object. Instead, after you’ve added the new picklist field, go to search for “Global Actions” from your Setup menu. Once you’re here then you can to your three Activity objects and add the custom field to your layout. I’d recommend putting it a prominent position with high visibility, perhaps directly across from the Subject field. Now your sales users can’t miss it and should see this as a trigger to update this field whenever possible.

Now that you’ve configured your three Salesforce Activities to capture your main KPIs, you’re ready to build an Activity Report to help your Sales Leaders track this metric, and enable them for better coaching conversations.

Tracking Your KPIs with Salesforce Activity Reports

So far so good, right? Ok, so now it’s time to put together a report your Sales Leaders will love. Pretty straightforward stuff actually. Create a New Report using the Activities Report Type. Go with the top option, Tasks and Events. Remember, Log a Call and New Task are both “Tasks” to Salesforce. A New Event, is, what else, an Event! Now from the Report template just make sure to add the KPI field as a column and then create a Summary Report and sort by Assigned To which will show the number of Activities by salesperson. Make sure to set the Standard Filter to Show both Open and Completed Activities. The other thing I’d do is filter out by only those activities with a KPI so that the sales manager doesn’t need to see every activity, just the important ones.

Now save your report to a Sales Folder that you’ve given access to the Sales Leader and team. The team should only be able to run the report and see visibility into their own activities. It’s probably not appropriate for salespeople to be able to see what their colleagues are doing in terms of hitting their activity targets.

Should you create a Dashboard as well? Well, I don’t think you need to. Dashboards are great for visually displaying a lot of data, says dozens or even hundreds of records. Here, the sales leader is really just interested in three or four metrics with a small amount of activity per week. A report should capture this just fine without the need for a visual display. But if you are inclined, a gauge chart would work for this. Let’s stick with the weekly target of 3 Initial discovery calls per week. Then your gauge could show three segments with green, yellow and red markings to show green as three or more = ‘achieved target’, yellow as two = ‘close, but not quite’, and red as zero or one = ‘missed.’ Again, probably unnecessary, but something you may choose to do.

Micro-managing, or Managing?

I meet an incredible number of Sales Leaders that are averse to managing their teams this way. They feel that is too intrusive, or too granular and claim that it is micro-managing their team. I’ve heard Sales Leaders claim that they have a senior sales staff that really won’t adapt to this level of management style. Except that – this isn’t Micro-Managing at all!


After all, isn’t the very definition of Sales Management / Leadership about how we can lead and direct our team’s activities.

All we can control as a sales team is our weekly output of activity. That’s it. We can’t control the sales revenue anymore than we can control the tides. Except that, we do know with certainty that the tide WILL rise. Can we predict with the same degree of confidence that our sales revenue will be met?

Say for instance that one of our top reps finishes the week with two initial discovery calls. But the goal, hopefully clear to everyone, is three. Grounds for termination? Of course not. But certainly worth a discussion on the weekly coaching call, or sales pipeline review. With Salesforce, there’s no need to tell the salesperson they’ve missed the number. It’ll be obvious to them. All that’s needed from the Sales Leader is a simple question – “So what are you planning to do differently next week that will ensure you maximize the chances of getting three initial meetings?” And that’s it. We let our salespeople tell us what they’re going to do that’s different. That way, it’s their plan to own, and not ours. And if they’re senior like we think they are, they’ll come up with the right plan and execute. And if not, then that’s where coaching comes in.

Clearly, missing the mark by one or two is not the end of the world. But missing the mark week after week after week is obviously cause for concern and that’s where smart leaders take corrective action. But it’s all SO much easier with a tool like Salesforce providing this level of visibility into what’s really going on.

Mark Christie is a certified Salesforce Administrator and Sales Cloud Consultant. He’s worked with hundreds of Sales Leaders helping them and their teams get more value out of Salesforce. Got questions about how Salesforce works? Let’s grab 30 minutes and have a look.