When we started InsightSquared almost 5 years ago, I was beginning a new chapter in my career: first-time CEO. The transition wasn’t easy, and I found myself running as fast as I could to figure out what exactly I was supposed to be doing. Between building my team, fundraising, and trying to market our evolving product, I barely had any time to do the one thing every CEO must do: make sure your company is hitting sales goals and bringing in revenue.
There were so many pieces of information coming at me from all angles that I started to feel like I was drowning. It became almost impossible for me to separate the signal from the noise. How are we doing in terms of creating new pipeline? Is my sales team efficiently turning that pipeline into deals? Are we set up to hit our upcoming revenue goals?
These were the questions I needed to answer, but unfortunately I was finding it hard to do so because I was getting barraged by so much information from all sides. I knew I needed to pare it down. For my own sanity and the sake of my company, I needed to focus on what mattered most and try to disregard as much of everything else as possible.
I had to learn to trust my sales & marketing leaders to handle their departments and report their progress to me by sharing the few, essential metrics I needed to make sure my young company was on track.
So I decided to make a guide that kept everything as simple as possible for me.
My CEO Crib Sheet
What I ended up with was a slim document that boiled down my company’s sales & marketing performance to its essence. I was left with eight straightforward metrics ‒ four for each sales and marketing ‒ that I could use to quickly (yet comprehensively) understand how each team was performing.
Instead of spending my days diving further into the weeds, trying to wrap my head around every little detail of my company, I was able to rightsize my perspective and take in all of the necessary metrics. Finally I felt like the metrics I reviewed regularly matched my priorities as CEO.
These days, I talk to a lot of CEOs looking for ways to triage the data they track about their companies’ Go-to-Market performance. I’ve gotten so many questions about the right metrics to track I’ve officially lost count. But now I have a guide to give them.
As I mentioned, it’s a fairly simple document divided into two categories: The 4 key sales KPIs and the 4 key marketing KPIs that all CEOs of growing companies should use to keep tabs on their company’s performance.
With sales, it all comes back to one thing: hitting your number. In the early days as CEO, I tracked these 4 metrics (making sure to get a good mix of leading and lagging indicators) to ensure that my product, my pipeline and my sales team’s execution were all on track to hit our bookings goal.
- Predictive Forecast. Are you on track to hit your upcoming bookings goals? Ultimately this is what it’s all about: Will you hit your number?
- Sales Pipeline Over Time. Has your pipeline been growing or shrinking over time? This is critical for identifying trends between pipeline growth and bookings growth.
- Pipeline Inflow/Outflow. Are you creating pipeline fast enough to feed your team? This helps you ensure that you are adding new opportunities to your pipeline quickly enough to replace Closed-Lost opportunities, which is critical for a growing team with rising bookings goals.
- Lost Reasons. Why are you losing deals? If you’re losing a lot of deals at the finish line, it’s important to know why. Is a competitor besting you? Is your price too high? Is your product missing features? This doesn’t come out of the box with Salesforce, so I added it as a standard customization because I knew I needed to help improve my product and sales team’s objection handling.
When I want to evaluate my marketing team’s performance, it’s all about pipeline creation. Are we generating enough leads and opportunities to feed my sales team and create sales?
- Lead Trajectory. How are specific marketing channels performing against goals? I knew that I needed to make sure I was fueling the right channels (at the right cost) to ensure that I wasn’t leaving my sales team hungry. Looking at lead generation over time and by channel allowed me to crank the knob on cost-effective channels so that I wasn’t hurting my sales team and pipeline for the future.
- Opportunity Creation. How many opportunities are coming from marketing? Leads are great, but they’re really only valuable if they’re converting into sales-ready opportunities.
- Best Campaigns. Which campaigns are generating the most leads, opportunities and deals? Ultimately, you need to fuel the right marketing campaigns, and this means understanding exactly which campaigns are most effective.
- Marketing-sourced Bookings. How much revenue is marketing bringing in? At the end of the day, marketing’s value is determined by how many deals can trace their history back to a marketing campaign.
My business has outgrown its training wheels and a lot has changed around here, but one thing remains constant: I still use these 8 metrics to measure the success of my company. Instead of falling victim to paralysis analysis, I’m able to track the most mission-critical elements of my business. Now you can, too. Get the CEO’s Guide to KPIs today.
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