As a sales leader, you might be wondering what to do with all that data in your CRM.
How do you use the information to improve results? How can you incorporate it into motivating your teams?
In this ultimate guide to sales dashboards, you’ll learn exactly how to use sales insights to hit quotas, make your sales teams wildly productive and keep your entire organization informed.
Sales dashboards are a method of seeing sales performance from a birds-eye view. These reports help you measure key sales metrics, individual team members’ performance and sales activities. They allow you to collect data from various sources and display it in a dashboard layout to generate actionable insights, fast.
Account executives and sales development reps (SDRs) use sales dashboards to help measure activities and stay on top of quotas.
Sales management dashboards also let you know how well your teams are performing by tracking metrics, activities and key performance indicators (KPIs).
As a sales manager, it’s up to you to make sure your team is empowered with the right tools and an understanding of their most important metrics. As Keren Rosenfeld, Marketing Director at SimilarTech, says:
This guide will cover how to measure KPIs in sales, how to collect data and which tools you’ll need to build informative dashboards and sales reports. We’ve even included seven Excel sales dashboards you can grab and use to put your new skills to the test.
To build a dashboard, you need to know which metrics to measure and define your goals.
True-north metrics are measurements that help everyone in your sales organization understand what they’re working toward. They focus on the numbers that will lead to success in your sales objectives.
You can have a true-north metric for each stage of the sales cycle. This illustration from Tivoli Partners perfectly outlines customer lifecycle stages and the level of engagement required at each of them:
While this covers the entire customer experience, it can help demonstrate how different goals will align at specific stages of the sales cycle.
To find your true-north metrics, think about what data best indicates progress toward your sales goals.
Revenue is often the most obvious choice. New business equals business growth, right?
This makes sense, but it doesn’t always translate into the most actionable sales KPI. Focusing on other metrics may lead to a bigger impact, depending on ticket size and the complexity of your offering.
These other metrics can include:
Deals closed. How many new customers and clients are you closing month-on-month?
Average order value. What’s the average deal size of a new business order?
Opportunity win rate. What’s the ratio of deals won to deals lost?
With your true-north metrics defined, it’s time to choose the KPIs your teams will be measured against.
What does KPI mean in sales specifically? Sales KPIs are metrics that indicate the effectiveness of your team’s efforts to reach company goals.
Typically, these are split into two different categories:
Each of these methodologies rely on their own corresponding metrics (some of which overlap) for measuring the success of your sales strategy
Results-based KPIs focus on the output of sales activities.
They measure the overall performance of your sales teams based on the results they generate.
Key performance metrics will vary based on job title and goals. For sales managers, the top sales operations KPIs to measure usually include:
Number of deals in the pipeline. How many deals are currently being nurtured by your team?
Win rate. What’s the percentage of deals won vs. deals lost?
Average deal size. How much revenue will each new deal generate on average?
Average time to close. How long does it take for deals to close?
Sales revenue. Total revenue generated across a specific time frame. Preferable over profit margins, as it can indicate positive sales performance even when bottom-line sales growth is stagnant.
Sales forecast accuracy. Sales forecasts are never an exact science, but they’re still key when predicting revenue and measuring how close your teams are to reaching them. They also help you identify sales opportunities and rank those opportunities by importance (e.g., predict which ones are most likely to close), saving you valuable time and resources.
Lead response time. How long does it take for reps to respond to new inquiries and leads?
Follow-up rate. How persistent are your salespeople? Measure follow-up activity to optimize your average close rate.
Your team should also have its own set of metrics when collecting data-driven insights, based on the unique revenue goals and sales activity of your organization.
These dashboards help boost team morale and lead to more productive sales meetings. Team-based sales metrics include:
Lead response time. See above. Teams need to understand how reactive they are to new opportunities.
Time spent selling. Measures the efficiency of your team. Use this to find bottlenecks and holes in your sales process.
Win rate. Everyone should be fully aware of the average win rate across the team.
Sales pipeline coverage (SPC). How full is your sales pipeline compared to your quota?
Leads generated. How many leads has your team generated/been assigned during a specific period? How many are qualified leads vs. unqualified?
Deals closed. How many leads have been converted into customers?
Finally, account executives and SDRs must measure their own results-based metrics daily and weekly. These include:
Sales target. What’s their quota and how close are they to reaching it?
Opportunities. Keeps details on the number of currently assigned opportunities.
Sales to date. Compares the number of sales generated against historical data.
SDRs and account executives must continuously track real-time data and remain on the lookout for open opportunities.
Your chosen KPIs will depend on the structure of your sales organization. Later, we’ll talk about the benefits of providing reps access to your management numbers.
So, now you know what your sales teams are contributing to the organization as a whole.
It’s time to figure out how they’re doing it.
Activity-based metrics include:
Lead response time. Again, how quickly your team responds to new opportunities is an indicator of proactiveness and action.
Emails sent. How well does your team perform at outreach, for both warm and cold leads?
Calls made. Are your sales reps making enough calls throughout the day?
Follow-up. How many follow-up emails and calls are your teams making?
With activity-based metrics, you can refine your processes based on which activities help your team reach their quota.
For example, you may see a drop in closed deals correlate with a reduced follow-up rate. With this insight in hand, you can work to optimize follow-up activities to solve this issue.
Also, while activity-based metrics will help you improve your overall processes, do not mistake quantity for quality.
More leads doesn’t always mean better leads. Before working on increasing or reallocating activities, qualify the leads in your pipeline. Figure out if you’re having conversations with the right people. New leads entering the sales funnel is exciting, but proper lead qualification is the best way to avoid wasting valuable time.
Once you know which metrics you and your teams should be monitoring, the next step is to collect the data on your dashboards.
This requires some auditing of your sales analytics. Your organization may be using several platforms for various tasks. Some may be integrated, while others sit in silos.
Before you can bring all this sales data into one place, figure out where it’s being stored. This requires going up, down and across the chain:
Up the chain. What data is being used, created and collected by the boardroom?
Down the chain. Which standalone tools are your reps using to help with their activities?
Across the chain. How does marketing collect lead information, and what do they do with it?
Instead of scrambling and trying to get information from various teams and departments, run workshops to communicate what you need from each stakeholder. This may require three different sessions:
Organization-wide workshops to bring marketing, sales and senior decision-makers together
Team-based workshops to figure out which tools and standalone processes your reps use
Follow-up workshops to report on your findings and cover next steps
When running your initial workshops, make sure everyone understands what you’re trying to achieve.
Here’s a great way to articulate your goals:
“Our objective is to figure out where exactly our sales data is being held at all stages of the buying cycle.
This includes marketing systems, CRMs, spreadsheets and any business intelligence platforms that these feed into.
The goal is to create accurate reports to help improve sales performance and increase revenue. Without this data, we won’t know how we can do better.”
Mentioning the impact on revenue growth will get boardroom buy-in fairly quickly.
During the workshop, explain what the end goal is and what you need from each stakeholder. Follow this structure:
Introduce what you’re trying to achieve and what the data will be used for (sales dashboards). Explain why they’re important. Refer to this guide and borrow sections if it helps.
Provide examples of systems that contain sales data. Talk about CRM platforms, marketing automation systems and business intelligence.
Give everyone a checklist of what to do next. Encourage them to go up and down the chain in their own teams and departments. Provide a template (spreadsheet format works best) for them to fill out and send to you. Include columns such as name, website, contact fields (e.g., first name, job role) and the systems they integrate into:
Platforms and systems to audit include:
Customer service software
Email outreach tools
Chatbots and messaging
Tracking and analytics
Project management software
Sales intelligence platforms
Once you’ve mapped out the sources of all your sales data, it’s time to bring it together.
The best dashboard platforms do two things very well:
They visualize data in a clear and engaging way
They bring together several sources of data for you
Before we talk about dashboard design principles, let’s check out some of your dashboard software options:
Geckoboard is one of the leading KPI dashboard platforms. It integrates with most major data sources and also integrates with Zapier for any that are missed.
Originally designed for television displays, Geckoboard is perfect for keeping teams on the same page. Notable features include:
Drag-and-drop interface builder
Advanced collaboration features
Dynamic and flexible spreadsheet importing.
UnifiedVU’s product focuses on bringing data from several isolated sources together. This is perfect for collecting several forms of customer data into one place:
As you can see, you get a complete view of your organization’s interactions with each lead, customer and opportunity.
Plecto's visual dashboard offering is geared towards managing and motivating team members. Use their platform to focus on individual KPI categories.
On top of standard dashboard features, Plecto also comes with some cool gamification features. Here’s how it looks in practice:
As you can see, you can track everyone’s progress across your sales organization and the teams within it.
Use this sales leaderboard feature to spark some healthy competition and reward the teams that hit quota first.
Once you’ve decided on the best sales dashboards tool for you, it’s time to design them.
With dashboard platforms, you don’t need any design skills to do this.
When creating your sales dashboards, aim for clarity. They should convey insights in an instant.
Clear, understandable dashboards have these attributes in common:
They tell a story. The objective of tracking insights is to answer questions.
They simplify complicated ideas. Large amounts of data can lead to confusion. Organize the right data in a way that clarifies what your teams should act on.
They focus only on what is necessary. KPIs monitored will differ for sales managers, reps and account executives. Make sure each only sees what they need instead of bogging your team down with unnecessary information.
With these principles in mind, let’s look at some helpful dashboard design principles.
Each dashboard will take your salespeople down a path. And those paths will lead to habits.
Therefore, it’s important to maintain a level of consistency in how your dashboards are presented and accessed:
Naming structures. The way you represent metrics, units and KPIs should be consistent across all dashboards. Don’t use different names for the same metric or KPI.
Icons and visual cues. When using icons and other images, make sure these serve a purpose consistent across all dashboards. Using the “💸” emoji to illustrate revenue might work for your sales team, but will it play well at a board meeting?
Dates and other text-based formats. Keep times and dates in a universal format (e.g. 11/23/2021 vs. Nov 23rd 2021.)
Colors. Use a consistent color scheme. Ideally, choose no more than three colors to use across each of your dashboards. Additional colors create more visual noise.
Some dashboard platforms provide little flexibility on these design elements, which will make consistency easier. With more flexibility comes a bigger risk of miscommunication, so be wary when designing things from scratch.
Be selective with your choice of dashboard metrics.
As a rule of thumb, include a maximum of six to ten data points. The SaaS dashboard below only uses ten top-level business metrics:
It’s important to use some kind of logic when grouping metrics together.
To create the best sales dashboards for your purposes, we recommend the following structure:
High-level insights at the top. These include revenue, number of active opportunities and average order value. In other words, your true-north metrics.
Trend-based data in the middle. These metrics can include activity-based metrics, such as the number of new deals created within a specific time frame, emails sent, calls made, etc.
Granular metrics at the bottom. Keep specific KPIs at the bottom of your dashboard, such as lead response time and follow-up rate.
Whatever model you use, ensure it’s consistent across all of your dashboards.
Your visualization method is as important as the way you lay out your insights. What do we mean by visualization? We mean the graphic format data is presented in.
For instance, a pie chart may work for one metric, while a pivot table will be clearer for another.
Let’s run through the most common data visualizations that you’ll use when designing your dashboards:
1. Line charts. A popular choice when visualizing trends and comparing them to other metrics and filters (e.g., timeframes).
2. Pie charts. Quickly communicate the “share” that each value makes up of a specific category or metric (e.g., how many opportunities each sales rep generated from the total).
3. Bar charts. Bar charts present comparative data, much like pie charts, but are more linear:
4. Pivot table. While they’re not always nice to look at, pivot tables are perfect for laying out exact numbers across categories and values.
5. Indicators. Provide an instant snapshot of how well a specific metric is performing (e.g., number of deals vs. monthly quota.)
When you build your sales dashboards, you’ll want to customize the view for different roles. Sales managers and account executives will need content that relates to their role in driving KPIs front and center.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, we've collected four dashboards you can apply to your chosen sales dashboard platform:
As a sales manager, it’s your job to guide your team. But that’s only possible if you know how well they’re performing:
In the example above, you can see how well your reps are performing, the amount of revenue generated and how many deals are sitting within each stage of the pipeline.
Use this dashboard to focus on the right activities and motivate your team.
Along with the team performance, you should have a dashboard to provide you with a daily snapshot of results-based numbers:
As you can see, this dashboard from InsightSquared gives you an accurate view of progress, as well as how close you are to reaching your goals.
You can use this view in team meetings to help motivate your salesforce by showing them the impact they’re making.
Your sales reps should have their own daily view of how they’re performing. As discussed earlier, they should be monitoring both results-oriented and activity-based metrics:
Here, reps have a complete view of the number of deals they’ve generated as well as the total value.
But the main difference from sales manager dashboards is the primary focus on sales activities. This is what drives results for reps on a daily basis, which is what they focus on.
Finally, the boardroom needs a complete view of how the sales organization is performing and how it is contributing to business results.
In this example, you can share your monthly and quarterly performance with your CEO, as well as comparisons against forecasts:
The dashboard examples above are designed to provide the right KPIs to the people that need them the most.
Your reps need access to activity-based metrics to help them gauge their progress, while directors need to see contributions to the bottom line.
For each dashboard, focus only on the metrics that impact the target group.
We’ve covered some sophisticated solutions to sales dashboards in this guide.
But what if you’re not ready to invest in dashboard software just yet?
As a starting point, learn how to track sales in Excel. Spreadsheets can be a great starting point to help small business owners track sales – from managing and modeling data to visualizing data into graphs:
For a “microsales” operation, this can be a quick and easy solution for your CRM needs (as long as you’re abiding by data protection laws in your region).
Learning how to track sales leads in Excel is a great way to start measuring data. However, the amount of data you manage can quickly spiral out of control.
If you’re serious about growing your team and your business, implement a CRM software solution and upload your data as soon as possible.
Using a spreadsheet is a great place to start but will need to be replaced in the long run. With that in mind, we’ve created a free Excel dashboard template you can use to track and analyze your sales:
Pipedrive’s Sales Pipeline template provides a basic solution to visualizing your sales pipeline in Excel. This is key to helping you keep opportunities flowing through the sales cycle. Leverage this sales dashboard example to keep an eye on your progress and identify optimization opportunities.
Unless you plan to set a low growth ceiling for your business, you’ll eventually need a CRM.
Do you expect to have the same number of sales personnel two or three years from now? If not, then sales software will simplify your life and make it easier to achieve your sales goals.
An Excel sales dashboard is a good start, but if you’re serious about selling, you need to transition to a CRM before you reach the tipping point. The smaller and simpler your dataset, the smoother the transition will be.
Managing and motivating your sales team is one of the biggest benefits of having a sales dashboard.
Here, we'll outline five ways you can use your dashboards to help your sales representatives get better results and progress in their careers.
We’ve talked about using dashboards to identify holes in sales processes, but you can also use them to highlight things that are going well.
Rahul Alim from Custom Creatives says numbers should do the talking:
As you check the overall performance of your teams, look for things to celebrate, such as:
Sales activities that exceeded quota
Increases in results compared to a previous period (week, month etc.)
Individual team members’ performance improvement
These insights are all available within your sales performance dashboards. Look for areas to celebrate across your sales department, both for individuals and for the team.
Gamification can create a competitive spirit among sales teams.
Take this one step further and create incentivized sales competitions.
Here are a few creative ideas to get you started:
The Pitch-Factor. Just like X-Factor, but for sales pitches. Each rep anonymously submits their sales pitches and the rest of the team votes on which is the best. You can also do this with cold emails and cold calling scripts.
Snooze Buttons. Let reps win a late start or early finish to their work week. Award this perk to the first rep who hits quota.
Performance Alliances. Team up your high performers with low performers and get them to work together. Encourage them to share new ideas. The duo with the most new sales at the end of the contest period wins.
Come up with your own ideas by tapping into psychological triggers. Try and create competitive scenarios that encourage teamwork, not cutthroat backstabbing.
Dashboards can indicate points of friction, holes in the pipeline and areas that need improvement. When these problems arise, it’s important to address them quickly. Fixing them will help you reach your quota.
If your revenue target is the goal, sales activities are the path to it and these challenges are obstacles along the path.
For example, you notice response rates to your sales emails have started dropping significantly. Here’s how you might tackle this challenge:
Look at historical data from the same time period. This may be a seasonal reaction.
Re-allocate time to other activities, such as follow-ups, cold calls and any other sales channels you follow.
Measure the same outcomes and compare them to the previous period.
Look at these as experiments. What will happen to outcome X if we do activity A instead of activity B? Apply any successful experiments to your future processes.
It’s important to get your sales reps on board with every decision you make. As Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow, says:
Back your decisions up with data and demonstrate that your intentions are in the right place. This shows you’re using objective facts to drive your decision-making, not gut feeling or a sense of entitlement.
There are benefits to sharing your high-level “management” numbers with your reps.
Some sales reps are high performers because they’re always looking to improve. This often leads to experimentation and trying out new things
Sharing high-level metrics lets them see things from a 360 perspective. Allow them to use these numbers to come up with ideas on how they can make their own jobs easier and more effective.
You now have all the information you need to create sales dashboards that motivate your team and get results.
Use it to build clear processes that help you refine your activities and generate better results.
How does it stack up to your existing processes? We'd love to hear from you. How are you currently measuring team performance? How do you plan on using what you’ve learned here today? Share your thoughts in our community linked below.
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