As a sales leader, it’s easy to find yourself frustrated. Your sales dashboards display plenty of metrics, yet your team’s performance remains stagnant. You’re drowning in data, yet there’s a sizable gap between top and average performers you can’t seem to close. What’s wrong with this picture?
The time has come to ask some tough questions about the way you measure sales performance.
- Are you getting all you should out of your dashboards?
- What are your sales reports really telling you?
- Do you measure the right metrics?
- Most importantly, are you capturing actionable insights that will help you drive behavior change?
If your dashboards leave you scratching your head trying to figure out why your sales team isn’t hitting their targets, you’re not alone. In fact, we’ve identified this as the Insights-to-Performance Gap, meaning you probably have data, but it’s not leading to impactful change.
Let’s examine why this happens and what you can do to maximize the impact of your sales dashboards.
Why Your CRM Dashboards Are Letting You Down
Key performance indicators don’t vary all that much from company to company. Managers are measuring activity across the sales funnel: how many dials their sales reps make, if those dials convert to meetings, and if those meetings convert to opportunities. But oftentimes, reporting doesn’t go much further than that.
Basic reporting is heavy on activity and light on results.
Sales managers focus on velocity and volume. You often see talk time, accounts and leads prospected, and the number of outreach activities touted as critical sales metrics. The problem with those numbers is they are only focused on outcomes and pipeline generation. For example, talk time can measure the length of a rep’s call but doesn’t capture if the call engages a decision-maker, or if the call results in a referral to a better contact.
A KPI dashboard overlooks quality.
Solely measuring actions also ignores the critical component of whether or not the outreach meets performance standards. Call quality is often the deciding factor in delivering the desired outcome. By overlooking conversation quality, sales analytics dashboards leave a wealth of valuable data and insights hidden within the dialogue.
They look backward instead of forward.
The typical performance dashboard does a great job of recording what happened yesterday—but a poor job of preparing sales teams for future challenges. Sales managers are always thinking ahead, but outside of pipeline, their reports tend to be stuck in the past.
While some may argue that notes the rep adds to the CRM are enough to complement the sales forecast, high quality notes are few and far between. In the words of Steve Richard, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist at ExecVision, “Data reports can become glorified repositories of deal tracking,” that contribute very little to improving performance.
Numbers need human interpretation.
Every organization needs data, there’s no doubt about that. Yet, many organizations start collecting data for data’s sake and lose sight of its purpose. The data collected has to serve your organization in a meaningful way such as enabling learning and development.
Human analysis and interpretation of data expose the necessary correlations to pinpoint where coaching is needed to develop skill mastery. If no one is looking at, interpreting, and applying the data to make informed decisions and improve performance, then why collect it in the first place?
Key Metrics That Complement Existing Sales Dashboards
Sure, you can track every activity and metaphorically crack the whip if reps aren’t hitting their sales targets, but that’s not the be all and end all in today’s world. Sales organizations need to track multi-dimensional KPIs if they want to drive performance improvement.
First, consider the efficiency metrics that drive desired outcomes, such as meetings, opportunities, and sales. For sales teams, the dials-to-meetings booked ratio is a great example. This metric weeds out high activity as an indication of high performance and cuts to the heart of efficiency—how often sales reps book meetings.
Secondly, sales leaders must review quality metrics. It’s not enough to judge a rep’s performance based on how many meetings they book. You have to evaluate their conversations to make sure they’re delivering the value proposition well and setting meetings that will turn into sales pipeline. For account executives, evaluating conversation quality means checking for sales process adherence.
If quality metrics are ignored, you can easily have an SDR who sits at the top of the sales leaderboard, but doesn’t generate revenue from their efforts. Sales forecasts and AEs may tip you off to this scenario, but if your sales organization pays close attention to conversation quality, you can get ahead of it and keep bad leads out of your funnel.
Without tracking and measuring quality, sales coaching becomes nearly impossible. Telling reps to ‘do more’ isn’t going to generate better performance.
The Gold Standard KPI: Customer Experience
Just how important is the customer’s experience today? Customer experience, typically measured as Net Promoter Score (NPS), or how likely the customer is to promote your brand to their network, is a key metric across every industry. 80% of customers value their buying experience just as much as the company’s product or service.
So, where does that leave us with sales metrics? It’s not just essential to measure result-focused, revenue-driving activity—it’s equally important to gauge the quality of the experience through the prospect’s and customer’s eyes.
Smart sales organizations know performance metrics matter, but keeping your customers happy is a top priority, especially in recurring revenue models. Meetings, opportunities, and closed deals mean little if the result is a churned customer based on poor sales or customer success experience.
How much do prospects value a rep taking the time to pause and listen to their particular needs before responding? Clearly it’s important when we consider the top metrics used to measure the quality of a sales conversation today. Talk vs. listen, monologue vs. dialogue, and call duration all contribute sales conversation quality, which correlates to a better customer experience.
4 Ways to Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Sales Dashboards
It’s fairly simple to increase the value you get from your existing dashboards. However, there are four things you can do to make sure they serve your sales organization effectively:
1. Recognize and understand the origins of your data.
Some of your dashboard metrics, such as dials, will always be universal truths, save for a technical error on the vendor’s side. Others require your sales reps to input the information that feeds into the reports. This can quickly lead to an inaccurate picture of what’s really occurring.
To ensure your reports depict the true picture, follow the mantra of “garbage in, garbage out” when it comes to CRM data. Sales managers have to prioritize accurate and detailed logging to minimize the persistent “fudge factor” that inevitably creeps into many reports. Automating as much of the activity recording process as possible can help enforce needed honesty, but the rest must come from your reps.
2. Create a review and interpretation process and schedule.
Sales leaders must establish a consistent process to extract, analyze, and correlate real-time data into actionable insights that can drive behavioral change which leads to increased revenue.
This process starts by creating an objective framework of reference. For example, leaders must ask, “what constitutes a good sales call?” Standards must guide comparison. Few companies take the time to set clear quality benchmarks today, and those that do usually observe a significant difference between their high achievers and everyone else.
3. Identify what separates your top performers from the rest.
Some argue that top performers are naturals at sales or that they simply work harder than their peers. While that may be true in some cases, it’s more likely that they do one or two things really well compared to their peers. If you uncover those behaviors, it becomes easier to make it the standard for the rest of the team.
And that’s not to say your average performers don’t excel at specific competencies needed at your organization. This is why scorecards and skills heat maps are a great tool for evaluating sales proficiency. These heat maps provide data on personal strengths and weaknesses which establish the basis for individualized sales coaching.
4. Provide full transparency into sales reports and dashboards.
Accountability is crucial for any sales metric, but it’s no use measuring reps against a KPI if they can’t see their own performance. Ensure your sales team has access to a view of their individual performance, if not the entire team’s, so they understand what they are measure against.
Modern sales dashboards can deliver a wealth of data and meaningful impact for those sales teams that know what to measure and how to translate the findings into positive behavior change.
Quality bests quantity in today’s reports. Smart teams combine activity and quality metrics for measuring performance. They understand the importance of outcomes that drive revenue and keep customers happy. They use their data to drive behavior change, and ultimately close the Insights-to-Performance Gap.