It’s never been more critical for sales and marketing departments to work together as one, revenue-generating team. The new empowered, informed buyer has changed marketing and selling forever. And today’s funnel-management technologies now make it possible to track activities and see what really drives revenue. This is an enormous opportunity. But it demands that sales and marketing join forces and align their activities as never before.

Unfortunately, salespeople and marketers don’t always speak the same language. They have different cultures, attitudes, challenges and styles – and they focus on different parts of the revenue machine.

Now that marketing automation and CRM have made it possible to track a lead all the way from the top of the funnel to a closed sale, it’s time sales and marketing got out of the trenches and into the meeting room.

For the first time, we can align our sales and marketing efforts to optimise the pipeline and purchase journey. For the first time, we can track the buying stages, opportunities and metrics. Which means we’re actually accountable to one another.

That’s a massive step forward in the history of business. And there’s a powerful new tool to help make it happen: the dashboard.

What’s a dashboard?

A dashboard is a single screen that tracks a number of key metrics in real time. Airplane-style.

A dashboard can track anything you want to track. For instance, a dashboard designed for sales and marketing collaboration can track the entire pipeline from the top to the bottom of the funnel. At one glance, you could see:

  • If you’re getting enough leads and how well you’re converting them.
  • How much revenue is coming your way and where it’s coming from.
  • How your campaigns are performing.
  • How you’re doing compared to last year.
  • Which sales rep has closed the most sales.
  • How your sales are doing by lead source.
  • Plus anything else you could possibly want to measure, like cabin pressure, humidity, or the population density of brown squirrels (if that’s what you’re into).

Why dashboards are great

Dashboards are visual tools, so they make data easily accessible (columns, dials, traffic lights, the works). As a business barometer that everyone can refer to, a dashboard is a great tool for real-time data tracking, analysis and reporting -- up to the management team and out across the business.

But there isn’t a default template out there that fits every business: everyone needs to have their own. Every dashboard can and should be customised to your needs and to the metrics you and your team want to track.

How to create your perfect dashboard

The key to building a great dashboard is to get sales and marketing to agree on these metrics and why they are important.

When people feel the dashboard is theirs, they’ll love it. Which means they’ll use it. Every day. And because there’s agreement on the relevance of the data, it will help sales and marketing streamline their efforts and focus on what works. Do it right and the dashboard will become everybody’s favourite cuddly toy to bring to a meeting.

That’s not to say that dashboards are always spot on and ready to go: they need to be revised a lot. They’re never perfect from the start. The thing to do is to get one going and have people use it. Their feedback will inform the next iteration until the whole team feels it’s right for them -- that it fits your business like a glove.

Finding out the truth about the buying journey

Dashboards deliver what generations of sales and marketing people have wished for: a single, clear way to track the entire buying process, based on real-time data. That doesn't mean dashboards are going to turn marketers into sales people or vice versa. But they’re a great tool for aligning the entire revenue creation team around the key metrics.

With a great dashboard, it’s easy for sales and marketing to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And no company interested in selling anything can really afford to ignore that.

The CRM Switcher's Guide