You are only fooling yourself when you ignore your key sales metric.

Every sales person has a key activity number they know they need to achieve in order to meet their quota or self-imposed sales goal. They just may not realize it yet…

We all want signed contracts, so that is the ultimate number we all need to measure; however, measuring the health of your business by the number of signed contacts is a bit like steering a car down the road while only looking in the rear view mirror. By the time you realize you got off course, it is often too late to avoid ending up off course.

Instead of looking in the past, we need to look out into the future. The place we need to look is our sales pipeline, which as we have discussed in recent posts, tracks the movement of all of our qualified prospects as they move through the various sales stages.

If we look at the sales pipeline, we soon realize that there is no way to arrive at a signed contract if we do not first make a certain number of proposals. It is for that reason that some sales people track the number of proposals they have made as their key sales metric.

It is likely there a ratio between the number of proposals we make and the number of deals we sign. It is important to note that ratio will increase during a recession, and decrease during an economic boom, so be sure to keep the current economic conditions in mind when forecasting.

Some people like to look even earlier in the sales stages and simply track the number of qualified prospects they have added to their pipeline. They may prefer this metric because it takes a while to advance prospects to the point of making a proposal, or they may simply find a more accurate ratio between the number of prospects added to the number of deals signed.

Whatever key metric you select, you should choose at least one. Then you need to set a goal for how many of that key metric you will achieve each month. Just because we have a monthly goal, does not mean we should only check our progress on a monthly basis.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. You need to ask yourself each and every day how many of your key metric you achieved, and then tally up the total for each week. If you divide your monthly target by 4, you will soon know if you are on track after each week. By checking daily and tallying weekly, you are sure to catch yourself before you get too far off course.

So many sales people go home each night with a uneasy feeling in their gut because they know they didn’t hit their key metric today, and thus are falling behind for the week, and ultimately the month. They may be able to hide this fact from their boss for a while, but they can’t hide from themselves.

Top performing sales people own up to their poor performance. They don’t stick their head in the sand and make excuses. Instead, they resolve to do whatever it takes to get back on track. Usually it’s pretty simple. Pick up the phone and set up meetings.

Given the power of this one simple habit to ensure you earn more than you did last year, it’s amazing how many sales people don’t track key metrics at all, and of those who do, how many try to rationalize or hide when they fall behind.


  • Do you track a key metric? What is it? Why?
  • How often do you track your key metric?
  • Do you ever ignore or rationalize failing to stack on track toward your key metric goal?
  • What do you do to face facts and get back on track?

Action Exercises:

  • Choose a key metric and start tracking it on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

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