What we learned about sales reporting


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn

colorful building blocks to represent development of reporting strategy

For years we’ve been reporting on our sales efforts and achievements. This post describes the evolution of our reporting and what we learned along the way.

While we focus on sales in this case study, we could just as easily be talking about any other area in the company as most departments have undertaken a similar journey with their reporting.

Stage 1: Isolated sales reporting & meetings

It started off with the sales team using reports directly within a CRM and reporting to company stakeholders and the whole team at weekly and monthly meetings respectively. Of course, in addition to these meetings, there were sporadic sales team meetings to discuss the state of various accounts.

What we learned:

  • We soon became aware that the whole team, of course, were extremely curious about new business and wanted greater access to information on leads and upcoming sales.
  • Key company stakeholders also found the week long wait between receiving updates frustrating, but were not inclined to log into a CRM, learn how to navigate the tool, and consult the reports housed in yet another platform.
  • Meetings were often extremely inefficient and consequently time was wasted.

Stage 2: Company-wide generic sales dashboard

We took what we learned from the first stage of our sales reporting to shift our approach.

We created a sales dashboard in Sweetspot that the whole team could access at any stage they wanted. As the team is extremely familiar with our own solution we knew there would be no barriers to access in terms of technical knowledge. A significant amount of contextual information and comments were added to the dashboard to describe the metrics, their importance, the formula used, and what they described. This was vital in helping the team understand them.

As Sweetspot contains workflows and provides the opportunity to collaborate around data, share ideas and ask questions we knew we would be able to abandon some of our meetings and save time while maintaining constant access to data.

We started by using the various reports contained within our CRM dashboard. We broke these up into 3 distinct sections and included only a few key metrics and charts for each:

  1. Outcomes: revenue & conversions (broken down by month and quarter), and information on leads, accounts and opportunities
  2. Pipeline & Opportunities: total pipeline KPI, and pipeline and opportunities broken down by stage, amount and by month
  3. Effort: by task, the success of each type of task, the most opened/clicked on/replied to emails etc.

We found some major problems with this approach, however:

  • Our sales team never consulted this dashboard – they were happy with using the CRM which they worked out of all day every day and which contained sufficient operational data. On a positive note, they were extremely happy and open to jumping into their accounts quickly to reply to questions within this dashboard whenever another user tagged them.
  • Our stakeholders weren’t satisfied by the type of information they were provided – these simple metrics provided them little insight on what was and wasn’t working, and what the future might look like if the team did/didn’t meet their objectives
  • Other company members never really felt the urge to check out the dashboards, even though they had asked for access. The information apart from new accounts was not very relevant to them in their daily tasks and so they felt disconnected from it.

Stage 3: Relevant and insightful data for each individual or team

In this next iteration we ran an internal survey to try to understand why team members had requested access to sales data, but now never accessed it. The overwhelming conclusion was that most team members, aside from general curiosity on how the business is doing, primarily wanted access to the data that impacted on them operationally in their daily tasks and would better enable them to meet their goals.

The executive team had a different stance. While most of the information presented to them as a group was mostly relevant, they complained that it was too generic and didn’t help them to draw any valuable conclusions.

Relevant Data

Instead of expecting each team to log into their app and check the sales dashboard, or consult the weekly PDFs that land in their inbox, we saw that adding relevant sales data to each team’s primary dashboard was much more impactful.

For example:

  • When we added conversion data in terms of size rather than revenue to the Development team’s dashboard they were better equipped to estimate infrastructure growth required and efficiently assign resources
  • When we added account type information to our Professional Services team’s dashboard they were able to foresee account challenges based on past experience and similar clients, and prepare a support plan. Adding support packages sold also helped them to allocate resources and efficiently address all client queries
  • When we added Cost per Lead information (for outbound leads) to the Marketing dashboard we were able to compare Marketing CPL to Sales CPL and compare strategies to find efficiencies

The improved relevance, as well as access, to this data meant that all teams were able to make better decisions and act on this data.

Insightful Data

In addition to better distributing information throughout the organization, for the executive team who did find the sales dashboard relevant, if not less than ideal, we improved the information provided by employing formulas to turn our vanity metrics into insightful KPIs.Instead of outcomes, pipeline and effort, we applied a new model based on our calculated metrics:

  1. Conversions: conversions (this month, quarter, YTD), conversion rate, conversion rate per account type, pipeline value & conversion funnel
  2. Sales Cycle: we mapped out average sales cycle, average sales cycle from qualified lead to conversion, and various micro-conversions based on our sales process. We also broke the sales cycle length down by lead source and time for some interesting insights on our best channels. Finally we added a scatter plot mapping account size and length of the sales cycle.
  3. Forecasting: we considered our targets and used our data to estimate the number of accounts we would need to convert to make this, and ran various scenarios to estimate the optimum number of sales team members and (realistic) activity levels required

Next steps

So far our team has given quite positive feedback on the changes that were made. They generally find the reports more accessible, relevant and insightful and have been able to make some positive changes based on the insights gleaned.

It’s still a work in progress, though, and we know we are still very far from presenting the perfect reports – maybe we will never have the perfect reports as requirements keep changing! – but we believe we’ve come a long way with our internal sales reporting. The next steps for us will definitely include finding better ways to connect these KPIs so that insights shared will feed into other related KPIs and charts, and improving our forecasting and modeling as we apply the lessons we’ve learned so far.

Have you undertaken a similar journey with any of your organization’s reporting? We would love to hear your stories!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn

Megan Wilcock

VP of Business Development for Sweetspot. Responsible for strategic brand development, marketing and business development. BA/BComm graduate from the University of Melbourne. My passion lies in finding creative solutions and encouraging collaboration.

Add a comment

Try Sweetspot today!

Not Another Dashboard.