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.
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 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:
We found some major problems with this approach, however:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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