What to measure in an early-stage GTM
Which data points to collect, how to analyze them and what to do with the results
There’s no doubt that modern sales management involves a lot of analysis. However, in early-stage sales management you are working with a sales process that generates a low volume of data with high volatility so its vital to separate the signal from the noise and avoid jumping to the wrong conclusions.
This post walks through the stages of the new customer journey, from generating leads to closing new business and lays out out which data to collect, how to analyze it and how to draw conclusions from the results of your work:
Types of data to collect
How to measure your lead generation process (3 metrics, 1 analysis)
How to measure your outreach process (6 metrics, 2 analyses)
How to measure your closing process (7 metrics, 5 analyses)
Types of data to collect
There are two types of metrics to collect and calculate:
Volume metrics. These represent an absolute measurement of the activities in your customer journey, telling you how many times an event has occurred. Examples are sessions, leads, opportunities, wins and booked revenue.
Conversion metrics. These are relative measurements that tell you how efficiently customers are moving through your customer journey. Examples are website to lead conversion rate, lead to opportunity conversion rate, opportunity win rate.
How to measure your lead generation process
The objective of your lead generation process is to attract ideal prospects to your website and get them to raise their hands and tell you they are interested in evaluating your product. There are 2 volume metrics, 1 conversion metric and 1 analysis in this stage.
The 2 key volume metrics to collect are:
Website sessions. This metric comes out of the box in web analytics products like Google Analytics and Amplitude. You can also use unique visitors if you find that you have a lot of repeat users but low conversion.
Inbound leads. This is also pretty standard. You want to make sure you can attribute inbound leads to the source from which they came e.g. paid search, retargeting, organic search, direct. The simplest way to do this is to ensure your lead form and thank you page both contain your web analytics tracking code and then define your conversion event in your web analytics tool.
The key conversion metric to calculate is your session (or unique visitor) to lead conversion rate. This tells you how efficiently you are converting website visitors into leads. A low conversion rate means that your website is not giving your visitors what they are looking for. There are multiple ways to improve this, which I covered in my post on how to maximize the bottom of your funnel.
The key analysis to do is session to lead by source. This tells you how your marketing channels are performing relative to each other and helps you figure out what actions to take.
People who visit your website directly will usually convert at the highest rate because they are already familiar with you, or got a referral to you from someone, however its hard to grow the volume in this channel without first growing your other channels.
People who visit your website via organic search will convert at a rate that depends on the relevance of the content you create to the problem you solve, and the resulting Google queries you rank for. If you are ranking on high volume, low-intent search queries, your conversion rate from organic search will be much lower than if you are ranking on high-intent, super-relevant queries.
People who visit your site via paid search should convert on par with those who visit via organic search, since they are basically coming from the same use case. If your conversion rate from paid search is lower, its a sign that you need to refine your targeting (e.g. exclude low-intent keywords) and ensure that your creative messaging is consistent with your website messaging.
People who visit your site via organic social channels will generally convert at lower rate than from search, unless your product is an affordable impulse purchase or you are giving something away for free, like a webinar or a report. Bear in mind though that signing up for free stuff is not a good predictor of wanting to become a paying customer, so you will see lower downstream conversion to opportunity.
People who visit your site via other paid channels (such as paid social or display ads) will generally convert at lower rates than your organic channels, so you don’t want to invest in these until you have your organic channels working efficiently.
How to measure your outreach process
The objective of your outreach process is to persuade qualified prospects to evaluate you. There are usually two sub-processes in here; one for responding to inbound leads and one for reaching out to contacts at target accounts. There are 3 volume metrics, 3 conversion metrics and 2 analyses in this stage.
The 3 volume metrics to collect are:
Inbound lead activities. These are emails and phone calls to inbound leads prior having to an initial call. Examples are following up with a prospect who has booked a meeting through your website or has been introduced to you directly and starting discovery over email to prepare for the initial meeting.
Target account contact activities. These are outreach emails and messages to relevant contacts at companies that match your ideal customer profile, for example when using warm introductions to build your pipeline.
Opportunities created. I like to create an opportunity (or deal) as soon as a salesperson starts spending time talking with a customer, even if the opportunity is closed lost after the first call, because it captures both seller activity and buyer feedback, which helps optimize both your outreach process and your lead generation process. There is an alternate school of thought that you should wait until you have qualified the buyer before creating an opportunity, however this requires you to define what makes a buyer qualified vs not qualified, which is hard to pin down in early-stage sales and hard to apply consistently as you add salespeople. It also gives you less feedback on the quality of your leads.
The 3 conversion metrics to calculate are:
Inbound lead to opportunity. This tells you how efficiently you are connecting live with your inbound leads. It should be 80% or higher. Anything lower signals one of the following:
You are attracting a lot of unqualified leads, in which case you need to make sure you aren’t falling into the horizontal platform trap with generic messaging and are asking enough qualifying questions on your lead form.
You are are not responding to inbound leads quickly enough (or at all). This will show up in your inbound activities data.
Target account to opportunity. This tells you how efficiently you are connecting with companies in your ICP.
The bigger your list the lower this number will be, as your messaging invariably becomes less relevant to your prospects as you broaden your ICP.
With a precise ICP, engaging messaging and a warm outreach process, this could be 20%+, whereas with a broad ICP, seller-centric messaging and a cold outbound process, it could be 1% or lower.
Contacts per target account with activity. This should equal or exceed the number of buyer personas in your ICP.
For example, if your ICP has 3 buyer personas, you should be seeing outreach activity with at least 3 contacts per target account.
All the data I’ve seen shows that the more people you reach out to at an account, the higher the likelihood that you will get a response and find an opportunity.
The 2 analyses to run are:
Inbound lead to opportunity by lead source. This tells you how effective each your marketing channels are relative to each other. When you combine this with the inbound lead by source analysis described above, you can see which channels are driving the best mix of volume and quality.
Target account to opportunity by firmographic. This helps you refine your ICP and find your sweet spot. For example, you’ll find it easier to connect with people at companies that have certain sizes, or are using certain tools, or have other observable characteristics that align with the use case your solution addresses.
How to measure your closing process
The objective of your closing process is to persuade qualified prospects to become your customers. There are 5 volume metrics, 2 conversion metrics and 5 analyses in this stage.
The 4 volume metrics to collect are: