Customer relationship management (CRM) dashboards are essential in sales for a number of reasons. First and foremost is that CRM dashboards can help you measure where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you’re going. If you can't see how well you did last month compared to this month, there's no way to know which direction you're trending and what can be done right now to move the business in a positive direction. Sales is a performance sport, and we all need to know where we stand on the metrics that matter.

A secondary and perhaps overlooked benefit, especially in the context of selling teams, is that dashboards can help drive behavior. In fact, if well designed, they can operate just like a compensation plan. As sales leaders, imagine we want to increase the attach rate on a certain product. We might incentivize reps to do so by adding a component to the comp plan that pays them more for increased sales of that specific product. Similarly, no salesperson wants to be at the bottom of a leaderboard for metrics that management has indicated are important to be successful at the company.

Lastly, dashboards can pave the way for selling teams by highlighting examples of what top-performing reps do to be successful. I heard once that “the best reps are thieves.” When they see something working for their peers, they get ideas on how they can raise their game to drive a better result. As an example, maybe a salesperson sees that the top-performing rep on their team is also consistently driving the highest amount of executive interactions. The rep who observes that correlation may well then choose to model that behavior.

We rely on a number of dashboards here at Salesforce. We’re also fortunate that our technology has made building these and any others very democratic and very accessible to us as business users and sales leaders. I can literally sit down in the airport terminal awaiting my next flight and create and launch a dashboard in 15 minutes.

As the name suggests, this dashboard gives the highest-level and most important metrics for our monthly business across my organization. It looks at notable open and closed deals. It stack-ranks the teams and account executives for the month. It gives insight into where our forecast is. The whole point is to shine a light on how we’re doing and to have total accountability. Everybody in the company can see our dashboards.

The second one is what we call the AMP dashboard, which stands for Activities, Meetings, and Pipeline. We built it during the financial crisis of 2007–2008, when bookings were sputtering a little bit and we realized we needed to track all of the inputs that went into them. We asked, “What is the most important precursor to bookings?” Pipeline. And what puts us into a position to build pipeline? Having really good meetings with clients.

How do you get meetings with clients? Well, to get meetings, you have to drive high-quality activity. Email, while valuable, is not something we track on this dashboard. What we’re looking for is a conversation: Did you connect with somebody and speak with them? This model is really helpful, because if I have a rep who’s maybe not building a lot of pipeline, hopefully he or she is still having a lot of meetings.

If the meetings column is also low, there is opportunity for some good coaching, because at the very least the one thing reps can control is their level of effort. We’ve had new reps who realize they won’t lead the bookings or pipeline dashboard yet, but know the one that is totally in their control is activity. They’ll own that dashboard for 48 of 52 weeks, build a ton of pipeline, and end up as the best rep the next year. The simple inputs lead to success.

Our business is about “making every month.” To do that, we need to ensure we’re creating pipeline not just every month but every day. If you get to the 26th or 27th of the month and suddenly realize you don’t have enough pipeline to get to your bookings target, there is not much you can do about it with only three or four days left.

With a daily target, if you realize you or someone on your sales team is running behind on day five or day six, there are still options to turn it around and influence the ultimate outcome. Maybe we can run a campaign in that market. Maybe we can host some events there. Maybe there is a promotion we can run between now and the end of the month.

If you are a parent, your children typically can't go out and play with their friends if they haven't first cleaned their room. Hence the inspiration for our Clean Your Room dashboard. It holds our teams accountable for keeping their deals up to date and accurate. Its purpose is to give insight into the quality and reliability of our open pipeline. For example, do I have any opportunities in my pipeline forecasted to close this month but where I actually haven't talked to the client in a month?

Or do I have deals in my pipeline for this month that have slipped a month five separate times? Perhaps we’re not asking enough hard questions about this project and whether it’s still real? Maybe it’s time to have a real conversation with the prospective client about whether this is as big a priority for them right now as it was five months ago and whether it’s something we should revisit down the road.

The Clean Your Room dashboard gives me all sorts of great insights into the things that aren't happening in deals that could represent high-quality business. Moreover, we surface coaching opportunities for our team by observing which reps are at the top of this “wall of shame” dashboard.

Sales is a performance sport, and we all need to know where we stand on the metrics that matter.”

Adam Gilberd | SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce
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