what is dashboard reporting

Gaining 20/20 Vision For Your Business: Knowing What to Measure and How with Salesforce Dashboards

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Show me the data! Salesforce's powerful reports and dashboards can help you showcase those big wins and unlock hidden areas of opportunity. See those tools in action, and learn how they helped Prosper Healthcare Lending and Bespoke Collection grow. Join us and learn how you can gain insight on your numbers and measure your success to improve sales, marketing, service, and overall adoption.

They say hindsight is 20/20, but that’s not good enough when you’re trying to get a picture of your business. After all, hindsight is seeing what happened last month, numbers that are never going to move. What you need for your business is 20/20 insight to steer your business in the right direction.

But just where do you want to go? Lauren Parker, Salesforce Solutions Engineer, coaches companies to examine their company goals and then use dashboard reporting services to stay in tune with results and change course if necessary.

Parker cites the Marc Benioff’s book, Behind the Cloud, as a starting point for finding your company’s vision. Benioff, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Salesforce, stresses the importance of identifying the vision, values, methods, obstacles, and measures, or V2MOM for short.

Vision and Values: The V2

Your vision of your company should extend beyond next year, and to do so means defining who you are as a company, not just what you sell. Salesforce’s vision statement is “Providing organizations with the power to know.” Other examples of vision statements are:

  • “Being world-class in customer service in order to help our customers _____”
  • “Providing the best _______ in order to enrich our customer’s lives”
  • “Commitment to ______, ______, and _______ as we strive to ______”
  • “Make the lives of _____ better through providing ______”
  • “Inspire our customers to ______ by sharing ______ and ______ in our designs and products”

Notice the visions extend past profits and focus on people? That’s where the value comes in. Ask yourself “What is important about what you do? Why do you do what you do?” Defining vision and values gives a purpose behind your company. Customers gravitate to companies who have passion and believe in what they do.

Methods, Obstacles, and Measure: MOM

Once vision and values are defined, reiterates Parker, it’s time to figure out how to achieve your goal, how to get around what’s standing in your way, and how to measure so you know when you have arrived.

Salesforce offers dashboard reporting so you can track your progress towards your goal, measure your results and adjust your course as necessary.

What is dashboard reporting?

Dashboard reporting is a visual representation of your company’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Using data from other reports, dashboard visuals provide charts and graphs to give an at-a-glance vision of your company’s performance.

Because our world is visually oriented, we find that charts and graphs are faster to read and provide a good overall view of business insights. Excel dashboards can be created by linking data to charts. As the data is manually updated, the Excel dashboards show the corresponding charts and graphs. But information changes quickly and many companies have found spreadsheet analytics cumbersome.

Current data, day-to-day, is essential in order to gain insight rather than hindsight from your business. Salesforce, in its quest to help businesses know about their progress towards goals, links data input from CRM into dashboard reports based on live data.

What is dashboard reporting based on live data?

Dashboard reporting based on live data means that you can get up-to-the-minute insights rather than waiting until month-end reports come out. Because Salesforce CRM is Cloud-based, all entries into the program are automatically updated across all devices.

Using dashboards as a way to track progress allows businesses to measure their alignment with actions and results. Parker shows example dashboards to teach customers ways to use data to improve their operations. While many Salesforce users are acquainted with the basics of dashboard reporting, they might not be using Salesforce CRM to their best advantage. Parker, along with customers Paul Leary and Corey Crellin, give advice for fully harnessing the power of reporting to align vision with daily actions:

Put the data where it’s needed most with Embedded Charts. Most Salesforce users are familiar with charts and graphs on the dashboard, but visuals can also be embedded on other Salesforce pages. For example, Open Cases and Open Opportunities pages can also show charts and graphs. The drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to customize screens to fit your needs.

Embedded charts don’t just look pretty, they can guide you to your next sale. For instance, embedding a chart showing Activity History and a Competitive Insights chart on an Opportunity Page gives a sales manager the tools to see how best approach an account with specific knowledge about how to beat a competitor.

Another way embedded charts can overcome obstacles, shows Parker, is by placing Open Cases and Open Opportunities on an Account Home page. Before trying to make a hard sale, a salesperson would be able to see if there are unresolved cases and work to resolving those issues before capitalizing on open opportunities. An agent without that knowledge readily available could damage the customer relationship by asking for a sale before helping the customer resolve current problems.

Joined Reports show two sets of data for maximum insight. Another financial dashboard example Parker gives is Joined Reports. By choosing any two measurements, executives can gain deeper insight into their business. Parker gives an example of advanced dashboard reporting by creating a joined report of Open Cases with Opportunities Pipeline. Comparing the two reports might reveal ways to better help customers by offering them another product.

Any two sets of reports can be compared in joined reports allowing for instant information and insights. Another example of a joined report Parker shares is Contracts and Open Quotes which would give a picture of how many deals have been made and how many need to close.

Use filters to gain insight for effective coaching. Parker shows another important financial dashboard example in the filtering function. Filtering allows data to be narrowed in any report to show key obstacles and insights. Parker shows example dashboards where a sales manager can drill down through the Closed Sales and Open Pipeline reports to show individual rep progress. By seeing which deals are in the individual seller’s pipeline, the manager can suggest actions to take to move those deals forward. Using filtered reports, sales managers can see exactly where coaching needs to take place.

Instead of saying ‘go make more sales,’ managers can offer actionable items to produce results for reps. Parker explains that when we have “an understanding of those actionable insights, we can see the matrix...we can understand what impacts what and know how to coach.”

Put the reporting in the hands of the users for practical insights. Often, the power of Salesforce analytics is available only to managers and executives. In some cases, that may be a mistake. Corey Crellin, Senior Manager of Product & Operations at Prosper Healthcare Lending explains how using dashboard reports evolved from an executive function to a cross-company affair. One quarter, Crellin opened the Salesforce reporting permissions across the company with amazing results.

“We had good ideas,” says Crellin of the Senior Managers, “but the people on the front lines had even better ideas...they were finding new metrics and new ratios and a lot of those ratios that came from that quarter are ratios that are critical to us now.” While Crellin admits that open permissions might not work in every instance, Prosper continues to keep broad permissions.

Reflect company and individual goals through dashboards. Along with open permissions, sharing company goals through dashboard reporting empowers sales and produces results. Paul Leary, President of Bespoke Collection, uses Salesforce for all functions of his artisanal wine company. By making a report that shows his sales team the gross margins on each product, Leary gives his agents latitude to steer sales in the best interest of the company. Sales reps have a sales goal and a gross margin goal, measures that are easily tracked in dashboards.

Use gamification to make it fun. Using Salesforce analytics and understanding the metrics helps managers know what actions to encourage. Crellin knows that from X number of calls, they will get X number of opportunities. “If you can grow the bottom part of your sales funnel, it impacts your revenue,” explains Crellin. Because he knows number of calls are related to number of opportunities, he takes action to increase the number of calls.

Competitions with real-time results adds excitement--and results--to your bottom line. Crellin placed flat screen TVs throughout the office and projected automatically updated dashboard results of who had made the most calls. Crellin explains his strategy when using dashboard metrics: “Our first priority is to get the right data. Our second priority is to get it out there.” The gamification makes sales reps’ jobs more fun and also motivates lower performers, he says.

Keep the long-term vision. Keeping the vision for your company means seeing the longer view. Dashboards can be your guide through a long-term plan. “You’ve got to map it out and give yourself a 5-year vision of what you want it to be,” advises Leary who has 1.5 developers on staff and stresses the importance of committing the resources for CRM development. Leary uses Salesforce for all aspects of his business including marketing and inventory and sales. “We’re an SMB but we’ve committed to grow...through a strategic advantage like Salesforce,” says Leary.

Crellin explains the possibilities of using Salesforce analytics to run your business. “If you can think of it, you can probably do it. There are awesome online resources,” Crellin says of the possibilities of metrics and reporting. But just because you can create an impressive array of reports with Salesforce dashboard reporting, doesn’t mean you should. At least not all at once. Crellin’s advice: “Pick 3-5 things you want to know. Schedule the report/dashboard to be sent. Try that out for a month.”

Ultimately, using dashboards to increase revenue comes down to using the right measures to compare your vision of your business to the the reality. Not only does real-time dashboard reporting give a visual picture of your company’s numbers, it can drive your focus to align with your values and vision.

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