Measuring Enablement Success Part 2: The Metrics You Need

Last week, I discussed the fact that sales enablement is not all about revenue, because there is no direct causation between enablement efforts and revenue; there are only correlations. I also discussed the fact that your enablement maturity level can also determine the set of metrics you can use to show progress and impact. Today we are going to discuss categories of relevant enablement metrics (objective and subjective metrics, leading and lagging indicators) and how to use which metrics.

In the digital age where you can measure almost everything, it’s vital to remember Albert Einstein’s famous quote “Not everything that can be counted, counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Objective metrics are essential. These metrics can be measured accurately, such as revenue, for instance, win rates, quota attainment, average deal size, or sell cycle length. Objective metrics can measure activities (such as milestones, utilization of service), productivity (such as conversation rates, ramp-up time) and performance (win rates, or average deal size).

There are also situations when you need subjective metrics, such as verbal feedback and anecdotal evidence, to interpret the objective metrics the right way. A good example is assessing the effectiveness of content. While you can measure views, clicks, and downloads, and often also what is shared with buyers and how they engaged with the content, you have to get a better handle on the question why salespeople preferred this asset over another, and why this playbook is used, and another one isn’t, as well as how these assets are used. Only then can the metrics regarding usage and buyer interactions be wholly understood, put into the right context and only then, the right actions can be taken.

When you interpret your set of metrics, get personal feedback!

Don’t make too many assumptions. “I don’t need personal feedback; I can create a survey.” You can, but it won’t help you unless your content or your training services are outstanding or very bad. However, most of the time, the enablement quality is somewhere in the middle. Then, the survey feedback will be lukewarm and not helpful at all. People will share more, including their real reasons for doing things a certain way, if you engage them personally.

Leading indicators are your early warning system.

Whenever we ask our study participants how they measure enablement success, we get lots of lagging performance indicators such as revenue, win rates, quota attainment, or average deal sizes. While these metrics are all important, they are all lagging indicators. Lagging indicators can only be measured after a deal has been won or lost. By the time you can measure lagging indicators, it’s already too late to do something about it.

In an enablement role, you need early, leading indicators that give you the first indication if a particular initiative will be effective or not. Then you can take immediate action and adjust your approach.

Imagine you are testing a new value messaging approach for a new industry with one selected sales team. All are aware of the content and were trained to use the messages with confidence and fluency, and their managers were equipped to coach accordingly. If you measure the ratio between calls and follow-up activities, and the conversion rates stage by stage regarding value, volume and velocity, you can sit down with the team and their manager to review the pilot, make adjustments and improve your approach.

Enablement leaders should define a set of leading indicators to stay ahead of schedule and adjust their activities quickly. Examples of leading indicators are the ratio of the first contact to follow-up, the number of contact attempts required, the ratio of lead conversion (stage by stage), and the ratio of opportunity conversion or email response rates.

Measuring and acting on leading indicators ensures that the desired lagging indicators can be achieved.

Create a dashboard of relevant enablement metrics with milestones and leading and lagging indicators in parallel with the development of your enablement charter. As soon as you know what needs to be accomplished based on the enablement charter, you can tailor a dashboard that helps you achieve the goals and keep your senior executive sponsors engaged.

If you haven’t already, have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. Lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • How do you define enablement success, and how do you measure it?
  • Are your current metrics appropriate compared to your enablement charter?
  • How do you create a better balance between objective and subjective metrics, as well as between leading and lagging indicators?

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