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 Chuck Schaeffer The Ultimate Sales Dashboards


Sales Dashboards to Aid Revenue Shortfalls

We've all been here. The period-end is nearing and it's increasingly clear you’re not going to make the forecast commitment. Rather than take the two-step approach of getting frustrated with your sales force and giving in to hap hazard notions, you can instead turn to data that may offer more realistic scenarios.

Stretch Forecast Dashboard. I've worked with some veteran sales leaders that create multiple forecasts in order to give executive management visibility and modeling options — to potentially alter corporate performance. A common example is the Stretch Forecast which includes sale opportunities that are not forecast, but are flagged as Stretch opportunities (this is usually done on the opportunity page with a checkbox field) or opportunities that are not forecast but meet the some minimal probability value and have a close in the forecast period. This visibility gives sales managers the opportunity to remedy revenue forecast shortfalls by introducing new sales tactics, time sensitive incentives or other options for the Stretch opportunities which need more flexibility to get them across the finish line.

Find Revenue Dashboard. When I create this sales dashboard for clients I typically start with a single view that supports the following four scenarios.

  • Display forecasted opportunities with close dates in the period following the current period. The goal here is to see which if any may be accelerated to the current period.
  • Display non-forecasted opportunities with a close date in or near (i.e. 30 days) the current forecast period.
  • Display non-forecasted opportunities with a sales probability at or above a select percentage value. For example, display sale opportunities at or above a probability to close of 75% but which are not forecasted. This view can detect overly conservative sales people or even sandbagging.
  • Display non-forecasted opportunities which are scheduled to incur a significant product price increase in the following period.

Find Revenue Dashboard

The key here is to allow a combination of these four scenarios. For example, show all sale opportunities forecast in the next period and which have a 80% or better chance of closing.

Each of these views (and the combinations among them) give sales managers the information to brainstorm select opportunities with the goal of determining whether there is a sales strategy or specific sales action that can accelerate their closure to the current forecast period.

Multi-Dimensional Analysis. In addition to displaying the right metrics, a dashboard best practice is to permit views to be filtered by period and by multiple dimensions. For example, when viewing sales person performance, build flexibility into the dashboard to permit different periods of time as well as viewing performance by key measures such as sales, margin, product or other criteria that help deliver the whole story. In fact, if you define these variables as measures and dimensions you take this analysis a big step further by accumulating and exporting the data to excel or a data warehouse for far reaching discovery.

Most Sales Force Automation (SFA) or CRM systems will permit dashboards to be exported to Excel, but only a handful will permit the Excel export to a pivot table for multi-dimensional analysis. Microsoft Dynamics CRM does this forecast to pivot table download particularly well. This added functionality permits new visualizations for key performance measures, the ability to see how different or multiple variables impact performance measures and the ability to drill down and see which opportunity records (or which types of records) are most influencing results.

Sales Pivot Table

Multi-dimensional analysis or predictive modeling can also be accomplished using a data mart or data warehouse with OLAP (online analytical processing). While this approach is superior in many ways, it's often a good idea to start with pivot tables in Excel in order to understand what data and analysis you really want before kicking-off a data warehouse project.

Of course to achieve multi-dimensional analysis in Excel or a data warehouse you have to have captured the right opportunity variables, integrated related parameters such as product and sales person data and defined methods of calculation.

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Most Sales Force Automation (SFA) or CRM systems will permit dashboards to be exported to Excel, but only a handful will permit the Excel export to a pivot table for multi-dimensional analysis.


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