I wrote a post about quarter four last year and what items to look out for to ensure your forecast is as accurate and perhaps include in a sales dashboard as it can be found here.

This blog is a more holistic look at how to setup sales dashboards to get ahead of the game. This will review key reports/metrics for different audiences such as management, sales reps, operations that will allow you to maintain a good understanding of your data and good data quality throughout the year. This is super important not just to a and clean forecast but also integral to any successful planning process with a clear picture of your accounts.

Sales Dashboards

The best way to get people looking at data regularly is to setup sales dashboards. Nearly every CRM has them. Depending on your CRM and data collected you may or may not be able to setup all of the items mentioned. I have provided instructions for Salesforce as it is the most common CRM and also the one I am most familiar with. There are a few suggested analytics slightly more complex in here but the vast majority of your reporting and analytics should be provided in an easy to read, self-serve format through dynamically updated dashboards.

Management Sales Dashboard

If sales dashboards are new to your organisation you are going to want to keep it simple, perhaps just with one dashboard and one data quality dashboard. As your users become more savvy you can split this out into multiple dashboards,  perhaps forecast, win/loss, activity, etc with a host of reports for each topic. To keep it simple I’ve listed some key items.

Some of the metrics you want to measure here are likely fairly obvious:

  • Sales QTD, Sales YTD (hopefully against goals)
  • Some sort of view of the funnel (by stage)
  • Top 10 Open Opportunities This Quarter (in descending order of value)

It is important to also create some leading indicators and reports of rep activity such as

  • New Opportunities Created
  • New Contacts Created
  • Activity (Email/Phone)

Finally, you will want some information on win/loss and competition perhaps

  • Lost deals in the last 90 days by lost reasons
  • Most frequently seen competition (in descending order)

There are also two types of deals that management should be looking out for:

New customers

  • New customer deals often take longer as there are new contracts, new paperwork. More so, many buyers may not often purchase what you are selling. This means the buying process is new to them. Educate them on what they need internally to get you the order in time. I always throw a bit of caution to these deals as delays always crop up.
  • If you setup your company records to be ‘Client’ or ‘Prospect’ you can then run an opportunity report to show those opportunities where Company Type = Prospect.

Strategic deals

  • Sometimes by sorting deals from large to small management (especially exec management) miss those deals that may be smaller, but strategic must win deals. Perhaps it’s a land and expand account or perhaps it has other importance. These deals should also always be viewed in reviews.
  • The best way to set something up for this is to also be profiling your accounts. Perhaps each account has a designation – this could include something like Focus, Strategic Account, Growth Account, etc. You can then easily run an opportunity report to show those opportunities where you have accounts of interest in the pipeline. By flagging accounts, your reps also know they have the company (larger) support in closing these.

Individual Rep Sales Dashboard

The most important thing about the design of a rep sales dashboard is that it should look exactly like a manager dashboard, only with data displayed for their deals. This serves a few purposes:

  • Expectations for managerial reviews is very transparent. Reps know they will be questioned on the same reports as their managers are looking at daily
  • Having one format (the QTD report is always top right, for example) makes it easy for managers to coach their reps on how to use dashboards, which in turn means they are really being used

The best way to do this is to duplicate a manager dashboard and then save each individual report to view ‘My …’ instead of ‘My Teams’ …’

Data Quality or ‘Clean Your Room’ Dashboard

Sales ops can help identify key deals for closer inspection. This is a sales dashboard that should ideally be setup for EVERY rep and manager in addition to their dashboard mentioned above. With Salesforce you can setup this up to display as the running user and reports can be setup to display ‘My’ or ‘My Team’ – thus needing two dynamic dashboards – My Data Quality and My Team’s Data Quality.

This should include potential areas of concern and people should always review this dashboard to ensure their data is clean before any pipeline review.

Below is a list of those deals that should be heavily questioned and included on such a dashboard:

Anything with a close date of the last day of the quarter (or month)

  • No solid close plan would plan on closing in the last day, thus when these deals are seen I often think this is just a guess. Management should always question the closing plan. Is this a closing plan the customer has committed to? I worked with a sales manager who used to have excellent relationship with his prospects. He would send over a sample closing timeline with a couple obviously unrealistic timelines. It often pushed customers to action and point out and modify it. That second his prospect modified his draft, they took ownership of it, and could be held accountable to it.
  • I’d recommend manually keying in a query here to identify where close date = Mar 31, June 30, Sept 30, Dec 31

Close Date in the Past

This does what it says on the tin and ensures everything is up to date.

  • This can be easily setup in Salesforce with Close Date < TODAY

Any deal that has slipped multiple months or quarter ends

  • There’s a good chance it will slip again and may not be a real deal at all. This is a great stat to track and can be a great way to clean your pipeline. One job there was a deal I spotted that had been moved forward consistently 5 quarter in a row. This is a somewhat noddy analysis to do (as it involves snapshots) but well worth it!
  • This is a bit harder to setup as a dashboard without some fancy footwork. A good way to spot this is to take snapshot monthly of those deals with a changed close date. You can then start to compare this data.

Any stalled deals

You can spot these a few different ways.

  1. Deals that have been in the pipeline for a long time – the ‘Age’ field in SFDC. At one job with a 30-60 day sales cycle I spotted deals that had been there 500 or 600 days – eek!
  2. Deals that have been sitting at a particular stage far beyond the average – the ‘Stage Duration’ field in SFDC. These deals have lost velocity and will likely not make it up.
  3. You can also look for next steps in the past. Having your admin setup a ‘Next Steps’ and ‘Next Steps Last Updated’ (time stamp) in your CRM are great ways to identify these. You can then query ‘Next Steps Last Updated’ > 30 days (or whatever time parameter makes sense!

Any stalled leads

This will hugely depend on how your system is setup, whether people accept leads or how they move them along statuses but certainly a report on open leads assigned to an individual would be a great start.

Anything with a stage early in the sales cycle

  • These deals simply don’t have enough runway. Use your sales cycle averages to spot these and work backwards on the time scale. Note that upsells deals often have a different sales cycle so consider that in your analysis.
  • First, you will need to do some work to figure out the average sales cycle length. This can be done with analysis on WON deals and using some stage change metrics.
  • Once you know, for example, that deals that stay at Stage 1 longer than 14 days have a 54% less chance of closing you can setup a query for Stage 1 deals > 14 days using the ‘Stage Duration’ field

Strategic/Focus Accounts

There’s a number of things you can do here:

  1. Strategic accounts that are not profiled. You can filter by those key accounts then setup some logic to show where they don’t have any contacts, or where certain fields are not filled out
  2. Strategic accounts that have not had an opportunity in the last year (or whatever parameter makes sense)

Sales operations

There are a number of reports that might be useful for sales operations to also keep an eye on. If some of this data is incorrect it may mean the reports your sales teams are looking at in their sales dashboard are not correct.

New accounts created in the last 7 days

This is a great way to ensure duplicates aren’t being created and if they are, in error, they can be merged right away to ensure data is always being captured alongside other account data to truly leverage the power of a CRM. If your organisation is bigger you may well have a system for account creation to prevent duplicates from being created (or you may be using some of the de-dupe features in SFDC) but at its base level this is a good thing to keep an eye on.

Accounts or opportunities or leads without a valid sales owner

This is a good heads up to ensure all your data is visible to the right owners. You may have reps that have left with items not reassigned, or you may have things simply routing to the wrong person.

Infrequent Logins

Instead of running this adhoc, its great to have a report at your fingertips to review how frequently your users are logging in. If this is a real issue these are also reports you can push to management but on some level you want to ensure there isn’t an issue and you can reach out to people who have never logged in, or perhaps very infrequently to target with training.

Activities related to converted leads or closed opportunities

This is likely just sloppy work and will clutter your activity reporting. If you find things in this query you can clean them up. I recommend an admin only selected status such as ‘Cleaned’ to not confused with those ‘Completed’

Field Trip

Field Trip is an available on the AppExchange for Salesforce. This lets you know what % of fields are populated. Whilst its great to pickup on fields to cleanup for a Salesforce Admin its also a powerful tool to see where sales are and are not using certain fields, which then you might want to make a clear part of the process or enforced by the data quality sales dashboard.

For more help

If you would like more help creating or modifying some analysis or sales dashboard for your organisation, or want to talk throughwhat KPIs or leading indicators might make sense for you, please contact me at marissa@salesopshelp.com

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