Sales dashboards: more than just a tool

This article will help you gain a better understanding of the data elements that can be reported in a sales dashboard, the benefits of having a sales dashboard for your organisation, as well as the different examples of sales dashboards.

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You can only analyse what you measure. While this seems like a phrase more suited to marketers, it is equally important for anyone working in sales to take notice of analytics.

For any business, sales objectives should be twofold – increasing the volume, as well as the efficiency of sales. A sales team should be like a well-oiled machine, working in unison to meet these objectives.

This means having an overview of every stage of the sales pipeline. Performance data need to be tracked in order to identify areas of opportunity, as well as areas that are inefficient or non-performing.

However, most of these data come from multiple sources, which can make it difficult to track the real performance of the sales department. For quick decision making, it is important to have all these sources of information in a unified system, in a manner that makes it easy to understand.

This is where a simple solution called a sales dashboard comes in. This article will help you gain a better understanding of the data elements that can be reported in a sales dashboard, the benefits of having a sales dashboard for your organisation, as well as the different examples of sales dashboards.

What is a sales dashboard?

A sales dashboard is an interactive digital tool that visualizes the most important performance metrics in the sales department. For example, it can show how individual salespeople are performing in a given month, or how much revenue the department is making over a certain period of time.

Similar to other online tracking and collaboration tools, a sales dashboard lets you and your team control and manage sales data in a single place without having to access multiple files. It also allows you to track key performance indicators, set benchmarks, and improve sales performance.

Sales dashboard templates

Sales managers need to have a good idea of how their department is performing. Depending on the objectives, there are many ways of visualising the important metrics of the sales department. Here are some examples of the different ways in which sales data can be visualised. 

Sales Performance Dashboard

A sales performance dashboard is one which gives an overview of the progress of the sales department by focusing on key metrics like:

·   Sales growth

·   Sales targets

·   Conversion rate

·   Cost per lead / per conversion

·   Customer Acquisition Cost

·   Net Promoter Score

·   Conversion time

·   Customer Lifetime Value

·   Relative market share

·   Pipeline value

This dashboard provides an insight into how the sale department operations are functioning and whether any major changes need to be made to the sales strategy. It tends to focus on the KPIs for the sales team as a whole, rather than on individual performance.

 Example of a sales performance dashboard (Source - https://www.boldbi.com/solutions/sales)

Sales Leaderboard

Sales leaderboards have always been used as a tool to track team performance and motivate employees. Since a lot of salespeople receive bonuses based on the number of sales they make, it is important to be able to track this accurately to ensure that incentives are fairly distributed.

What is more, leaderboards can serve as a means of instigating friendly competition between sales reps. In fact, a study by Salesforce found that 71% of companies who used some form of sales gamification on their employees reported increases of between 11% - 50% in sales performance.

Some of the KPIs you may see on this type of sales dashboard are:

·       Calls / Emails per rep

·       Sales volume per rep

·       Value of sales pipeline

·       New accounts

·       Customer retention rate

·       Tasks closed 

Example of a sales leaderboard (Source – Klipfolio) 

Sales Forecasting Dashboard

As important as it is to track your current performance, sales managers need to look towards the future as well. Forecasting your sales gives you a good idea as to where you stand vis-à-vis your annual goals.

It also helps to provide a holistic view of your pipeline, to plan in advance for low-volume months, and to see how well your forecasts match up to the reality, to help optimise your benchmarks.

Some of the charts and KPIs you might observe on a forecasting dashboard are:

·       Historical sales growth

·       Expected value of sales

·       Lifetime value of customers

·       Customer churn rate

·       Variance

Example of sales forecasting dashboard (Source – SAP Analytics) 

Sales dashboard design: Best practices

With the abundance of metrics available, it can be hard to design the perfect sales dashboard. However, there are some clear ways in which to ensure that your sales dashboard meets its intended objectives.

Involve stakeholders at every stage

Dashboards inform multiple stakeholder decisions. Therefore, in order to make it equally effective for all, you must involve your team members who will be accessing the dashboard when designing it and consider every piece of feedback given in order to avoid confusion later on.

Choose the right metrics

Depending on the objective, your dashboard should portray the correct metrics that will help you hasten your decision making. At this stage, it is also important to consider customisation by role, since different organisational functions will be more focussed on different metrics. Finally, keep it simple and pick a few important metrics that are key to your business, instead of getting overwhelmed by choices. Not every piece of data is worth analysing in great detail, unless it has an impact on your business.

Simplify the layout

The most important information should be at the top of the dashboard and highlighted for you to see easily. The rest of the information can be put into the dashboard in order of importance. A dashboard with too much information can get difficult to read. Consider adding filters that allow you to customise and view partial information that is relevant to your immediate decision, rather than everything up front.

Data visualisation

You must be careful of the way you choose to visualise certain elements in your dashboard because there are multiple formats available. This can include bar charts, pie charts, histograms, box plots, and heat maps. Choosing how you want to show your data can go a long way. For example, if you want to compare different datasets according to similar metrics, a bar chart would be the most useful. For a forecasting dashboard, a graph may be more useful. Finally, you should also minimise the use of bright colours or too many colours as it can confuse you when it comes to reading the data.

Integrate multiple data sources for maximum visibility

Modern organisations make use of a number of systems and tools to manage their customer pipeline. From marketing tools like Google Analytics and Adwords, to CRM platforms like Salesforce and even customer contracting tools like Contractbook, there are multiple sources of rich data that can and should be used to give more well-rounded insights into your sales process. Integrating these with your sales dashboard can help build a more holistic view of your business.

Ultimately, sales dashboards can help senior managers take stronger ownership of their sales pipelines, allowing them to access multiple rich sources of data at the click of a mouse. Using a dashboard can not only help to track team performance, but also identify strategic sales opportunities, navigate tasks, as well as forecast and compare data swiftly and accurately, empowering sales teams to reach their full potential in terms of volume and efficiency.

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