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 Chuck Schaeffer The Ultimate Sales Dashboards

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Sales Forecast Dashboard Best Practices

  • Deviations that predict revenue shortfalls are generally the first priority.

  • Don't lose sight that the objective of dashboards is to deliver leading indicator performance measures – often as exception conditions – in context to a business opportunity or challenge.

  • Dashboard development is an iterative process. Start by defining your sales challenges and use cases, and then begin honing in on the key performance indicators (KPI) that are most helpful in identifying and responding to those challenges. Don't be tempted to start with a dashboard grid and seek out data that might look good. It's a good idea to begin by studying your history, and reviewing the sales reps, regions, products, customer types or other variables that have most correlated to prior period missed forecast results.

    Also identify forecast anomalies among sales people, regions and products which suggest there is a fixable problem, and how to allow sales managers quick access to identify any recurrence of these issues. For example, if the sales team has a 55% win rate for a particular product, but one rep has a 30% win rate for that product, there's likely a fixable solution. While this sounds obvious, very few sales managers actually see the data which identifies these types of patterns.

    Once you've got the KPIs in a dashboard view, you can then mature the view with color coding thresholds (often green, yellow and red) for the KPIs, visual icons (such as an up arrow or down arrow to indicate trend) and the use of images, charts or graphs to supplement the data visualization.

  • When using color coded data, remember that 7% of men are color blind.

  • From a dashboard design perspective, the optimal number of frames on a page is 4 to 6. Beyond that you diluting the most valuable KPIs with less valuable data. Recognize that frame proportions deliver implied importance so make all frames a uniform size unless certain frames are more essential. A somewhat interesting user behavior is that the bottom left frame will receive the primary focus.

  • Because sales forecasting is time sensitive, make sure you time-stamp all sale opportunities. This may require an update to your CRM system Opportunity record. Time stamping is also essential for calculating key measures such as lead to revenue conversions and sales velocity. This can also aid the more strategic goal of advancing your sales funnel to become a revenue funnel.

  • Data visualization is a critical success factor in getting user adoption. Sales forecasts are most often columnar reports. However, sales pipeline and forecast dashboards are generally bar and pie charts. It's been my experience that once the basic forecast dashboard charts in place, I then display the data using combinations of dials, gauges, scorecards, line graphs, tree maps, heat maps and bubble charts. Once users see these later views, they seldom ever go back to the first version bar and pie charts.

    Other factors which contribute to user adoption include designing dashboards by role and problem set, providing information highlights at-a-glance (not too much data), avoiding dense or cluttered data presentations and making sure dashboards can be used with a zero learning curve.

  • Dashboards should permit drill-down, filters, searching and downloading to Excel. The most powerful dashboards are those that capture sufficient data to permit What-If scenarios and sales forecast modeling. Unless you have a data warehouse, Excel is the best modeling tool to manipulate the data and identify patterns, exceptions, outliers, anomalies and possible solutions to your sales challenges.

  • Dashboards should also permit printing, but most do a terrible job at this.

  • Getting sales people and sales managers to monitor shared KPIs brings increased attention and action to those performance measures. A tactic to get sales people to monitor pipeline and forecast data is to supplement those measures with sales quota visualization – including both quota to date and projected OTE (on target earnings) at forecast commitment.

The Point of Sales Dashboards Is This

The single sales forecast dashboard delivered with most CRM systems is little more than a vanity metric and insufficient to deliver the information and insight sales managers really need. However, the goal isn't to have as many sales dashboards as you can dream up, but to have the right performance metrics to help solve tough problems. A good dashboard framework delivers progressively more detailed insights based upon specific challenges. Fortunately, there's a fairly short list of common challenges that contribute to missed forecasts. The sales dashboards shared in this article help identify those contributing factors as early indicators in order to give management the time and information needed to make a proactive difference. End

Sales DashboardsSale Opportunity DashboardsSales Forecast DashboardsSales Modeling DashboardsSales Dashboard Best Practices

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The single sales forecast dashboard delivered with most CRM systems is little more than a vanity metric and insufficient to deliver the information and insight sales managers really need.


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