Reporting, Analytics, and Analysis

What isn’t measured can’t be managed to a scalable and predicable level. You can always manage a team, even without loads of metrics or data, but what you cannot do is manage them to achieve effective, long-term, predictable results. The team could win one day, and lose the next. Unless management is looking at various data points, it will not be able to explain the winning or the losing. If managers cannot understand why results are occurring nor accurately predict results happening again in the future, they are not really managing anything, and they are definitely not leading. At best, they are sitting back, watching, and hoping.

A business and its management team must have an appropriate pulse on available data so they can manage by it. The potential always exists that an overwhelming amount of information can cripple a management team into analysis paralysis, so it’s vital to understand the various key performance indicators (KPIs) that create the greatest results for the sales team. While each organization is different, metrics can always be ranked from most to least impactful, and then reported on with the correct frequency.

Some stats should be watched hourly (either in a dashboard format or via an automatically triggered data send, such as spreadsheet or email, that would ensure the managers have it available) so in-game decisions can be made to win the day. Other stats, if viewed hourly, could drive management crazy, be a waste of time, or be statistically insignificant, so they should be collected on a longer term basis (daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly). A properly set-up management team should have access to the required stats at the optimized frequency needed to make sound business decisions.

Because we can only judge sales reps (and employees in general) based on results, organizations should have results-based statistics for every critical area the sales rep is involved with. These statistics could include the number of calls required to make or take, the amount of time on the phone each day, attendance, compliance, etc. Anything within their control should be measured, and they should be held accountable to baseline standards, or at the least, provide the details of their key metrics so they are aware of their own performances and can hold themselves accountable. As with the entire sales team, a success formula (the right combination per day/week/month of leads spoken to quotes provided, contracts presented, and any other sales process milestones) exists at the sales rep level that when achieved will equal a winning day. The organization should have that formula mapped out and then help the reps compare their daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly performances to those standards.

When systems are properly built, daily analysis of metrics should be a fairly quick process. Areas that fall outside the organization’s known effective range should be highlighted so they can be explored further. Any areas where individual reps or the team are deficient can then be addressed with further training, coaching, or structure to facilitate the ideal level of performance in that area.

Data Analysis Tip

Most sales managers want to manage, not necessarily analyze, stats. If possible, have someone on your team run the needed reports and create summaries from them (in Excel, for example). Sales managers can use these to take the necessary action to help the team win. Do not rely on sales managers or reps to comb through spreadsheets or reports to determine what needs to be done. Serve it up to them in the must succinct way possible—one that literally gives them their marching orders for success.