Sales Dashboards That Work
- Good sales dashboards deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. They focus on the most essential key performance indicators and are designed to prioritize information based on what's most important to each user. They display exactly what should be done, in a sequenced order, to aid time management, create a work rhythm cadence and maximize productivity.
- Great dashboards go further to shift information from being merely interesting to being actionable. They deliver data-driven and fact-based insights that answer key questions, help people make better decisions and encourage action to lift performance. They include comparison points, such as industry benchmarks, to provide a relative ranking of what's working and what needs improvement.
- The best dashboards permit real-time predictive modeling to show how changes in behaviors or actions impact business outcomes. They display forward looking analytics and show the financial impact of both action and inaction. It's this level of reporting that shifts information visibility from hindsight to foresight. It's also this level of reporting that connects performance metrics with prescriptive guidance, such as guided selling, best practice recommendations and links to Sales Playbooks.
Most sales dashboards are visually appealing but don't gain adoption. Fortunately, they fail for a short list of reasons that are fixable. Here are three best practices to deliver information in a way that earns the users' attention, induces action, and improves revenue performance.
Start with the Right Metrics
Too many packaged dashboards display what is easy instead of what is important.
To a first-time observer a CRM sales dashboard looks good. But if good looks were the factors for success my first marriage would have made it, and selling dashboards would get much more utilization.
Research from the Sales Excellence Report shows that these dashboards achieve 30 percent utilization following a go-live event. But within 3 weeks that utilization falls to 9 percent. Over time it falls further. The decline is due to information that doesn't provide real help to users.
The key to sales analytics is to measure what matters. Defining the right metrics to track progress and prompt real-time corrective action is an essential best practice for achieving slated business goals. Most of the time the most influential metrics are financial measures. However, as shown in the below SDR dashboard, they can also be a mix of financial and activity measures.
When implementing CRM software, I often get asked how many metrics should be included on a seller's screen. The answer is always the same, as many as will get acted upon.
Make Information Actionable
The goal is to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. But that's not enough to change behavior, initiate a course correction or achieve a business outcome.
Simply creating a list of metrics to display in a view falls short of inducing action. However, when selling metrics are aligned with objectives, linked to actions and project payback, information goes from being merely interesting to inducing action.
The Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is not the goal. It's a recommendation for action. Action is the goal.
A best practice is to link key performance metrics to a Sales Playbook to facilitate prescriptive actions. When a KPI highlights a deviation or variance, displaying a link from the KPI to a Play or Next Best Action will facilitate follow-through and timely resolution.
The below manager dashboard illustrates how performance shortfalls or deviations can be accompanied by links to Playbook Plays for immediate course corrections.
Make Analytics Predictive
Most CRM revenue reporting only displays historical data. Better reporting shifts from lagging to leading indicators. And the very best reporting enables metrics to be interactive, so staff can perform What-If modeling and scenario planning.
When KPIs can model future performance, they become even more actionable. They shift visibility from where you have been to where you are going. It's the difference between looking in your car's rearview mirror or through the windshield.
In many of our CRM implementations we display industry benchmarks next to the company's actual performance. This does a few things. First, it provides a relative comparison to identify where the company stands and most needs to improve.
Second, it enables predictive analytics. Many managers like to apply pro forma models to show how a 1 percent improvement in any KPI impacts revenues or profits. Other clients with KPIs below the industry median may prefer to see the revenue impact by improving their performance to the median level. Knowing the financial upside impact allows the company to know how much they should invest to achieve that upside.
Some of the most impactful forward looking KPIs include the opportunity win rate, Customer Lifetime Value and sales velocity.
While almost all CRM sales dashboards are delivered as static and historical reporting, you can use a sales tech stack and artificial intelligence (AI) to assemble data into forward-looking and predictive analytics.
Interactive information such as the example above provides the ability to interrogate, manipulate and experiment with the data. Managers and staff can perform what-if scenarios and compare alternative forecast models to find their optimal plan. Interactive data is much more powerful than having many static reports that show the same data pivoted in different ways.