Any company's sales leadership needs to keep a pulse on how its salespeople are performing, both individually and on a broader organizational level — getting there often starts by understanding the degree of effort reps are putting in. That's where performance indicators known as sales productivity metrics come in.
These figures — ones used to measure how active and engaged salespeople are day-to-day basis — are central to the success and direction of most sales orgs. In HubSpot's recent Sales Strategy Survey of over 1,000 salespeople, we asked real sales managers about the metrics they track to gauge their reps' activity and effectiveness.
Here are the five most popular sales productivity metrics, some insight into why each one is important, and some actionable suggestions sales reps can incorporate into their day-to-day to improve their performance on a metric-by-metric basis.
Productivity Metrics are Managers Tracking in 2023
1. CRM Usage
47% of the sales managers we surveyed say they track CRM Usage as a key productivity metric.
Why is it important?
Your CRM serves as a centralized repository for your entire company's customer data — making it a crucial resource that can guide more effective personal sales efforts and improve your team's collective performance.
If you're not contributing to your CRM, you're selling both yourself and your fellow sales reps short. That's why managers want their salespeople to stay on top of contributing to and making effective use of the organization's CRM.
As Mark Sandecki, CloudTalk's Inbound SDR Manager, told me, "I find my focus shifting throughout the month to various important metrics and targets, but ultimately the five most important are Pipeline Created, for each SDR and the team as a whole; Deals Created, which has a correlation to our pipeline and which regions need to be addressed; MQLs received, including the number of them, from which segment, etc.; Activities (primarily calls and emails) so we can see how active the team is and improve our conversion rates; and lastly, Response Rate."
Sandecki adds, "All of this falls within CRM usage; in our daily workflow this goes without saying. If we don’t input accurate data into our CRM, we’re selling ourselves short."
How You Can Improve Your CRM Usage
Improving CRM usage is a matter of diligence and repetition — taking a little extra time after engagements with prospects and customers to log the intel you gather from your interactions. Entering data into your CRM might not seem like much on a case-by-case basis, but if you consistently put it off, those missed contributions can add up quickly.
It might seem obvious, but if you want to improve your CRM usage, remember to use your CRM — more specifically, remind yourself to leverage the system whenever a situation calls for it.
Doing so can give everyone in your sales org a more robust, realized picture of who they're selling to — so be a team player, and take the extra few minutes to contribute to the system when appropriate.
2. Calls Made
40.9% of the sales managers we surveyed say they track Calls Made as a key productivity metric.
Why is it important?
Sales managers — particularly ones who manage SDRs — need to know that their reps are, well, actually doing their jobs. They want to keep tabs on whether their reps are willing and persistent enough to keep picking up the phone, regardless of how calls might be going.
Less-than-ideal calls made figures can indicate that a given rep might need some extra attention, coaching, or motivation. And collectively poor calls made numbers can help shed light on poor morale or expose flaws in key elements like an org's sales messaging.
How You Can Improve Your Calls Made
The answer to this one is a matter of persistence — especially if cold calling is central to your role. According to LinkedIn, cold call conversion rates hover around 2%, and 63% of sellers say cold calling is the worst part of their jobs.
If those figures are any indication, cold calling is easily one of the most exhausting, potentially demoralizing activities in sales — so being reluctant to pick up the phone is pretty par for the course for a lot of reps.
Improving this metric is every bit as straightforward as it is frustrating — you have to keep at it. Power through the seemingly constant rejection, and keep making calls. It might not be an easy solution, but it's definitely a simple one.
3. Emails Sent
37% of the sales managers we surveyed say they track Emails Sent as a key productivity metric.
Why is it important?
Sales emails are an accessible, effective means of connecting with prospects, guiding them through your sales process, and ultimately facilitating productive relationship-building with customers.
Given how valuable effective sales emails can be, sales managers want to know you — as a salesperson — are staying on top of those elements. Delivering on this metric demonstrates that you're committed to developing and sustaining productive relationships with prospects and customers.
How You Can Improve Your Emails Sent
Improving your Emails Sent figures is a matter of keeping careful tabs on your relationships with prospects and strategically identifying when to send emails. Stay abreast of your opportunities' needs, interests, and schedules — and reach out to them with an appropriate cadence.
In some instances, an excessive Emails Sent number can reflect an overly aggressive approach to prospect and customer outreach. It might demonstrate that you're burying contacts with too much communication — potentially irritating or frustrating them by being too obnoxious or eager.
The key to this metric is to strike a balance between consistency and tact — communicate enough to keep your business top of mind with potential customers without flooding their inboxes. It's easier said than done, but don't just boost your numbers here purely for the sake of boosting your numbers. Be considerate of the people you're emailing, but don't get too passive.
35.8% of the sales managers we surveyed say they track Conversations as a key productivity metric.
Why is it important?
The sales conversation is the lifeblood of any successful sales effort. You can't develop productive relationships with prospects or move potential customers through your sales process without conducting conversations with them first.
That makes this productivity metric one of the most crucial and understandably popular ones listed here — it essentially gives managers a refined, in-depth pulse on how effectively their reps can connect and communicate with prospects.
How You Can Improve Your Conversations
The term "conversations" here can be a bit vague, but in several cases, it refers to communication reps conduct beyond initial outreach — so if you want to improve it, you need to make sure your initial outreach is convincing.
That starts with conducting thorough research on prospects. Have a firm understanding of their business, their specific roles, the degree of influence they wield within their organizations, and other key factors that will shape your understanding of their pain points and how you can structure an effective value proposition.
Then, if possible, make sure your outreach is personalized to suit those elements. Try to project yourself as an authority on their issues without coming off as too arrogant. And let them know your product or service is a solution that will work for them — specifically.
It's obviously easier said than done, but if you can connect with your prospects with that kind of thoughtfulness and dedication, you'll put yourself in a solid position to improve your Conversations numbers.
5. Use of Sales Tools
34.8% of the sales managers we surveyed say they track Use of Sales Tools as a key productivity metric.
Why is it important?
When sales leadership at a company buys sales tools, they want to know that they're getting some kind of return on their investment. Those resources often aren't cheap, and they're generally purchased to improve individual efficiency while fostering cohesion throughout a broader sales org.
So naturally, when a business invests in a sales tool, its management needs to know that its salespeople are using it — doing so helps the broader organization get on the same page and lets leadership know whether the resource is actually valuable.
How You Can Improve Your Use of Sales Tools
It might sound self-explanatory, but if you want to improve your Use of Sales Tools figures, use the sales tools your leadership tells you to use — even if they don't gel with you at first. Learn how to leverage those resources, and do what you can to incorporate them into your day-to-day.
If you're struggling with a sales tool, ask for help or guidance about using it. And if you're finding one to be ineffective — even after mastering it — offer some kind of feedback about it to management.
But if you, as a salesperson, want to ensure you're putting up solid Use of Sales Tools figures, you have to buy in and make a conscious effort to make effective and consistent use of the solutions your leadership invests in.
Obviously, this list isn't exhaustive. There are a host of other metrics your sales org might use to keep tabs on how engaged you are on a daily basis. But no matter what sales productivity metric leadership at your company might track, there's a common theme that underscores how to improve it — effort.
A lot in sales beyond your control. There's no guarantee that a cold call will convert or a prospect will engage with an email. The thing you always have agency over is how much effort you're willing to offer — and improving your sales productivity figures starts with you putting in as much as possible.