More is Not Better

Most CRM tools come with dozens, even hundreds of canned metrics, with the possibility of creating ever more to fit your exact needs. Unfortunately, most of the canned reports are poorly thought out, and quantity certainly does not help here. Who has the time, not to mention the inclination, to study dozens of reports each day? There are really two issues here. One, what metrics are worth looking at, and two, can multiple metrics be combined in a way that makes sense and that actually adds to the comprehension of the situation. Select a small set of metrics for your core set, combine them wherever possible, adding ad-hoc reports when needed to analyze a particular situation. Here are recommendations for the core set by business function. Annotated examples are presented at the end of the chapter.

Marketing and Lead Generation

Marketing organizations focus on lead generation and therefore must determine the success of the various strategies they use. Metrics to be used on a regular basis by marketing organizations include:

  • Lead generation analysis. This shows the number of leads per source, the cost per lead and per closed sale, the revenue per lead and per source, and the sales cycle time per source, contrasting the results across campaigns and other lead-generation mechanisms.
  • Telesales productivity, including the volume of calls (inbound or outbound) and the number of leads and prospects generated, both by individual and for the group as a whole.

Marketing organizations also run many ad-hoc analyses, some of which may become enshrined in regular reports. In particular, metrics around the lifetime value of a customer, the buying patterns of customers over time, the percentage of new customers versus existing ones, and profit patterns by product or by customer are useful to both marketing and sales efforts.


The foundation report in all sales organizations is a pipeline report. The details will vary based on your industry and your sales model but all pipeline reports show the current forecast versus target and where the deals are in sales cycle. The pipeline report is a good example of a report that should be carefully tuned for maximum productivity since it is used so much. The ability to navigate pipeline data from the summary level to the individual deal is also very important. Beyond the pipeline report, sales organizations usually track sales productivity indicators, including:

  • The sales cycle length
  • The close ratio
  • The average sale size and average cost of sale
  • Order accuracy

It may be a good idea to also track the average time to collection as an indication of the quality of the sales.

Support and Service

Here are the must-have metrics to all support organizations, even small ones.

  • Case productivity, including the volume of inquiries, the promptness of their resolution (and in particular whether the case was a "first call close"), and the individual and group productivity of the reps.
  • Knowledge base productivity. This metric focuses on knowledge base documents rather than cases.
  • Issue distribution. This is a more analytical set of metrics that looks at the types of support cases with the goal of identifying the top causes (and, whenever possible, take preventive action) as well as staffing to match the needs.
  • Case aging. A more tactical kind of metrics, case aging is a tool to manage the backlog. A case aging report lists the open cases that exceed predefined targets, such as having been open for more than 48 hours.
  • Customer satisfaction. The most important metric in my mind for support organizations, but often overlooked, customer satisfaction should be based on a transactional survey delivered to an appropriate sample of customers as soon as their issue is closed.
  • Support renewals. For fee-based support centers, metrics about the sales of support products and renewals of support contracts are required. The needs here are similar to sales and therefore the metrics are similar to sales metrics.

Larger support centers and ambitious small centers can add a few more metrics, including:

  • Financials. Financial metrics are very important, of course, so you may wonder why they did not make it to the set of "must-haves." This is because the standard financial reports run by the finance group suffice for smaller centers.
  • Top 10 customers. To identify the heavy-usage customers, who may be either struggling or abusing the system.
  • Knowledge base usage. To analyze the health of the knowledge base and increase the usability of individual documents.
  • Metrics by manager and by geography. Babushka reports become necessary in larger centers with multiple managers and product lines.

Annotated sample reports are presented later in this chapter.