A sales manager needs to do more than keep an eye on sales analytics – they need to actively influence it. As Senior Area VP of Sales at Salesforce I live and breathe my sales dashboard. It guides all our decisions about what we need to do to ensure the team is always hitting its targets.

In this post, I wanted to share some tips for choosing the right sales metrics, creating a killer dashboard to track them, and using that information to motivate your sales reps to new heights of performance. I hope it helps you with your own sales management, and please do add your comments below.

1. Get the data right.

Before you even start thinking abouts your sales analytics, make sure the right data is feeding into it. A dashboard based on inaccurate data is worthless – if sales reps aren’t keeping their information up to date, you’ll never understand what needs to improve or change. So make sure the right information is going in before you do anything else.

2. Decide the sales metrics that matter.

Sales metrics don’t just matter to you – they drive the whole business. Get together with senior management, with marketing, with customer service, with HR, and decide the important KPIs that will drive the business forward. Once you’re all agreed, a good CRM solution will let you share the metrics that matter with the whole business, and allow different stakeholders to see the information that’s relevant to them, in real time (and then drill down into the data if they need to). This enables transparency which improves alignment and collaboration between departments. Everyone can take the necessary action to get the business moving in the right direction, fast.

3. Choose metrics that let you influence sales performance.

Lots of sales managers just track topline figures: pipe, productivity, close rates. But if you want to actively increase your closed-won rate, you need to dig one level deeper to see what’s really going on.

I look at things like pipe progression – how long have opportunities been in the pipe, how quickly are they moving, are they getting stuck in a particular stage, how many times have they been pushed, etc. These metrics give a much more accurate picture of how much is likely to close in the current quarter. They can also highlight problem areas with the pipe, and identify reps who need to do more work to close the opportunity. You can then take action to ensure opportunities get moving faster.

4. Look at the whole funnel.

A sales analytics dashboard that also includes marketing metrics can provide huge insight into what your opportunities are interested in. You can track their whole journey from the top of the funnel, to see what content they’ve downloaded, what they’ve looked at on the website, and even (with a system like Salesforce) what they’ve been discussing on social media. That can provide lots of fantastic information for understanding their thinking and for starting conversations.

5. Use dashboards to motivate your reps and influence behaviour.

The great thing about shared dashboards is that reps can see how they’re doing compared to everyone else, in real time. You can use this in two ways:

a) As a “hall of fame”, by having leaderboards showing things like who has the most closed-won deals and the biggest pipe creation (or whichever metrics matter most to you and your reps).
b) As a “hall of shame”, by highlighting reps who continually push opportunities, or who don’t follow the correct steps in your sales methodology or undertake the right activity. We call this one a ‘clean your room’ dashboard, because it lets the sales manager spot the reps who need to clean up their pipe. Nobody wants to be on top of that one!

6. Look at trends and historical trends.

Surprisingly few sales managers use historical data as a benchmark, but it can really highlight whether your team is improving in effectiveness, or if there are areas where you’re falling behind. I look at things like deal velocity compared to a year ago, average deal size compared to last year, number of deals closed compared to a previous period etc. This not only shows whether you’re improving as a team, it can also highlight areas that need work, and enables you to forecast better by showing whether you’re tracking ahead or behind compared to the same day in an earlier month/quarter/year. You can then take action accordingly.

7. Keep it simple.

There’s an incredible amount of advice about which sales metrics managers should be measuring, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially if you’re using a dashboard-based system for the first time. The best approach is to keep it simple, decide on a few key metrics that are important for your business, and have a system that lets you drill down into data when you need more information.

8. Iterate often.

Then it’s a case of reviewing your dashboard and metrics regularly, and making tweaks to ensure you’re always looking at the right information to drive your business forward in the most effective way. 

I really hope this has given you some great ideas of how to utilise sales metrics to drive your sales management strategy and get those all important deals over the line. I would also encourage you to see how other sales managers are doing this in this eBook 'The Sales Metrics That Matter'. 

  Sales Metrics that Matter eBook