Cheatsheet: How to build a high-impact sales KPI dashboard

Ever wonder what separates the average sales team from those that are constantly seeing green?

The answer boils down to just two elements: a data-driven sales strategy and sales dashboards.

Statistics show that data-driven companies are more successful than companies that rely on intuition. What exactly is a data-driven company? It’s one that collects data across departments, aggregates that data, shares it, and then uses it to drive business decisions and revenue. The most successful data-driven companies are those that visualize their most important metrics on a sales KPI dashboard.

Read on to find out how you can build a high-impact sales KPI dashboard to motivate your sales reps, re-align your team, and outperform your targets!

What does it mean to visualize data?

Have you heard of “big data”? Most medium-to-large companies collect huge amounts of data from multiple systems and sources. And all too often, that’s the extent of it—it just sits in those systems without being used by anyone. In addition to the financial costs of system licensing, maintenance, and storage, dormant data also results in lost opportunities and less revenue.

When companies visualize the data they collect, complex data is transformed into engaging visuals that make it easy to understand—and act on. Visual data can provide actionable insights and make it easier to track KPIs, actual performance, and other data points that are crucial to making informed decisions.

Among other things, data visualization refers to metrics presented on dashboards or in reports. The practice is particularly popular in CX, marketing, and sales organizations. Generally speaking, dashboards tend to be visual and interactive, offering summarized real-time data—whereas reports are tabular, static, and offer more in-depth data. Both have a place in data-driven organizations. Data dashboards are ideal for employees who need a general overview of performance, while reports are beneficial to employees who need to drill down into the nitty-gritty details to glean deeper insights.

Since you can’t improve what you don’t know, it’s no surprise that most companies that visualize their data have more motivated and productive employees. With easier and more efficient access to information, salespeople can focus on more important things—like driving sales!

Why is it important to visualize data?

While sales KPIs provide beneficial insight into your sales team’s effectiveness, this information is only as valuable as what you do with it. So the quick answer to this question is that visual information is easier to interpret than text-based information.

Salespeople are competitive by nature—use this to your advantage! Create transparency around how KPIs are measured and how each rep is performing against their targets. Dashboards in particular help make complex data understandable for non-technical employees—or those who don’t want to spend precious time reading tedious reports.

If your sales reps don’t know how they’re performing against KPIs, they’re basing their performance on a gut feeling. In this situation, they’re unlikely to be empowered to outperform, and are inadvertently sabotaging your company’s sales performance.

When reps can visualize their sales KPI data, they’re able to quickly and easily identify their strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly. Simply put, when sales reps can see how they’re performing against their quotas (and their peers), they’re motivated to develop their pipeline and exceed targets.

At the team level, visualizing data can help to improve data accuracy. Nobody wants to be seen as having the lowest performance, so sales reps are more inclined to record their progress in the CRM—instead of in their heads. To ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals, pick one of your most important KPIs, run a sales contest, and broadcast the progress on a data dashboard!

As a manager, a sales dashboard can uncover barriers to success by making it easier to ascertain why your team (or individual employees) aren’t reaching their goals. When you can visualize the entire sales pipeline and customer value at a glance, it’s clear where deals are stalling, where efforts might be lagging, or where opportunities lie waiting!

Six steps to build a high-impact sales KPI dashboard

Building a sales KPI dashboard can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. But it’s easier than it seems. These six steps will get you started with visualizing any type of data, and a sales KPI dashboard is the best place to start!

Step 1: Define your primary goal

Before you dive in headfirst, think about the main goal you’d like to achieve. Try to be as specific as possible; e.g., increase outbound sales by 10% this quarter. A commonality among organizations is that they start with the nitty-gritty (i.e., operational sales activities) and then work backward from there. Instead, you should focus on developing sales goals in line with the overall business strategy.

Step 2: Define your sales KPIs

What do you think it’ll take to meet your goal? You could choose specific sales activities like the number of outbound calls made or demos booked. Alternatively, you could use performance quotas for pipeline value, hit rate, or win rate. Or define a combination of both sales activities and quotas to pave the path to successfully achieving your goal.

If you’re not sure which sales KPIs to track, get inspired by these 21 sales KPIs every sales leader needs to be tracking. They’re organized by top-level, tactical, and operational sales KPIs—with examples of each and formulas for calculating them, made especially for your convenience.

Step 3: Define your data sources and data fields

Remember all that data you’ve collected that’s probably sitting in different systems? Now’s your opportunity to unlock it and reap the rewards! Figure out which data you want to include in your sales dashboard and where you can find it.

Start by determining which data is important to formulate into working KPIs. Not sure what data fields are? Think of them as the headings in an Excel spreadsheet: customer name, industry, and deal stage are a few examples to get you rolling.

If your company uses Aircall or a similar phone system, that’s where you’re likely to find valuable sales or customer service data related to the number and duration of calls made. Work with complex data from multiple sources? It’s worthwhile looking into software where you can centralize all your data from your favorite telephony, sales, and marketing systems!

Step 4: Decide how to display the data

What you do here can make or break the success of your sales KPI dashboard. How you display your data is every bit as important as what you choose to display. Here are three of the most common dashboard visuals and guidelines for using them most effectively:

1) Leaderboards
Leaderboards are ideal for motivating sales reps to pull out all the stops. Here, you can display your sales KPIs and how each rep is progressing toward their goals. For teams in multiple locations, you can display sales KPIs per location to stoke a little friendly competition between offices.

2) Speedometers
This is a fun way to show real-time performance while motivating your sales reps to “move the needle” on key metrics. When agents can see a realistic target on-screen, the impacts of their efforts are visible—so they’re more likely to give that extra push to smash their target!

3) Bar charts
Some may say that they’re not very exciting, but they get the job done. Bar charts are an effective way to compare qualitative sales KPI data, especially across multiple categories. Want to see how your MRR for this month compares to last—or even the last six months? Do it with bar charts!

Download Plecto’s Sales Guide, VCC: The New Sales Performance Formula, for more examples of exciting ways to visualize your team’s data on sales KPI dashboards—and how to use them to your advantage!

Step 5: Decide on live or static data

The easiest and most effective choice is to use a “set and forget” system, which automatically pulls and visualizes your data in real-time sales KPI dashboards. With this live data, you’re able to make informed decisions based on real-time insights so you can make course corrections before a small hiccup turns into a sales slump—or worse.

Alternatively, it’s possible to create and manually update dashboards. However, this is labor-intensive and requires a pretty big time commitment to ensure that your data is updated and shared regularly. If you want to look purely at historical data, this option is adequate; choose which system works best for you and your business goals.

Step 6: Share your dashboards across multiple platforms

Now that you’ve invested time, effort, and money into building your high-impact sales KPI dashboard, make sure your employees actually use it. The best way to do that is to make it easily accessible via mobile devices and desktops. You could also choose to display it on TV screens in common areas to get everyone motivated.

Transparency is the key to data-driven results, so make sure everyone knows how they’re performing—and strives to be better than the rest!

Three best practices for building a high-impact sales KPI dashboard

 As you follow the six-step process to build your first sales KPI dashboard, you should keep these three best practices in mind:

 1. Design for your end users’ needs
Who will be using your sales dashboard and what you’re hoping to achieve with it should be top-of-mind as you create your sales KPI dashboard. Only include information that’s relevant to those users and business goals.

A sales dashboard created for the CEO should contain information that addresses high-level strategic concerns such as profit and loss and budgets versus actuals, while a CSO dashboard should be more tactically focused with metrics on activity rates, forecasting, growth, and trends. And different yet, a dashboard for the sales reps themselves would benefit most from displaying operational KPIs like individual versus peer performance against sales goals.

2. Provide context
It’s imperative to provide context, particularly when sharing information concerning sales or profits. Relevant contextual information includes things like year-over-year or month-over-month comparisons so your stakeholders can identify trends. Every sales dashboard you create should display information that provides actionable insights that can help support data-driven business decisions.

 3. Keep it simple
The whole point of data dashboards is to improve access to information. Don’t sabotage your efforts by presenting it in a hard-to-read format. For example, if your sales KPI dashboard will be displayed on flatscreens, it’s best to avoid presenting small or very detailed data. In the same sense, don’t try to fit too much on your dashboards; pick the most important data and broadcast that to the people who actually need it. Content may be king but readability is queen. Keep your data dashboard clean and easy to interpret by everyone it’s intended for.

Visualize your Zoho CRM data on KPI dashboards

Why not give your new knowledge a test drive? You’ve got a bucket load of valuable data stored in your Zoho CRM system just waiting to be unlocked. Choose the metrics that are most important to your business goals, visualize them on your own customized sales dashboard, then sit back and watch as your sales reps perform like never before!

Note: This is a guest blog authored by Sage Crawford for Plecto.

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