“The only metric that matters is how much you sold.” Of all sales coach tips, this one might be the worst. This idea gets tossed around a lot by experienced sales managers and executives who ought to know better. This is wrong – seductively, egregiously wrong. Even worse, plenty of people – from sales professionals to people who never sold a thing in their lives, believe it to be true.

The metrics and criteria for sales performance management go way beyond that “end number”. When you think about it for more than 10 seconds, the logical error should be obvious.

Some sales coach tips on process metrics

Let’s leave aside for the moment the sad fact that sometimes unethical salespeople or even entire companies will fudge the numbers in order to get that bonus or boast about market share. (We saw carmaker BMW appeared to do just that with its sales figures recently to inflate its company’s position versus a rival firm. They’re far from alone).

There are countless activities and variables that sales people need to deal with to reach that end number. The truth comes out when you look at the activity that the sales person is involved with.

Has the salesperson (or the rest of the team) done effective sales territory planning? Do they understand their customer’s needs and state of readiness to want a solution? Are the sales people engaging at the right level, getting to the decision-makers? Has the salesperson figured out the value proposition that applies to the target customer. Just as important, can they articulate that value proposition effectively to the customer? Are they aware of the risks the customer will be taking by buying a given solution – and can they address those risks?

Can a sales professional can answer “yes” to these questions and more? That’s a far better indicator of sales management success than a single sales number, whether you’re looking at a single month of meeting a quota or an entire year of revenue generation.

When you go beyond a magic number and have the full picture of what your sales people are doing, your company can refine strategies and use simple processes that get results.