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Track Performance with the Right Reports

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify the best sales tools to capture performance data.
  • Use reporting best practices.

People at a table reviewing reports and making decisions.

Answer All the Questions

The end goal of using most sales tools is to create reporting that your sales teams can use to make the right decisions throughout the year. These reports answer questions like:

  • How much outbound communication (calls, emails) is my sales team doing?
  • How many customers are there in each state or country?
  • What accounts are in each sales team member’s name?
  • How much was paid to each sales team member in commission last month?

Common Systems and What They Report On

Reporting makes all kinds of business data available. Here is a table of common reporting, the part of the sales process they support, and where you can find the data.

Sales Activities
Data captured in a sales force automation (SFA) or customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This typically includes account, opportunity, leads, and activity/task information like calls and emails made. You can also use this data to create leaderboards.
Territory Mapping
Data visualization focused on geography. This is usually used to identify where customers are, who on the sales team is responsible for selling to these customers, and so on.
Compensation systems usually calculate how much team members make based on their performance, the performance of the company, and any other policies that are set up during the annual planning process.
Recognition tools allow your colleagues to publicly thank one another and help businesses identify their high-impact contributors.
General Reporting and Data Visualization
Some tools are available to integrate with the systems mentioned above. They visualize and interact with data in an aggregated way. For example, you can integrate sales data with territory mapping data so you can easily see how each region is performing.

Hurry Up and Tell Me a Story

Reporting is a window into your company’s performance at a given point in time. Therefore, you can’t rely on the same set of data for too long. Just as it’s important to evaluate and reevaluate KPIs, it’s important to pull in the most recent reports frequently—depending on the data and KPI, it can be quarterly or day-to-day.  

Also, it pays to get a fuller story by combining data points. It’s one thing to understand how the territories are broken out and which sales teams are responsible. It’s another thing to see how each territory is doing, which are performing well versus not-so-well, and what best practices you can come up with because if it.

Keep Data Secure

Not everyone should see every datapoint. It’s important to structure reports so that only the right people see the information they need in order to get their job done. This approach is called the principle of least privileges. In most tools, the reporting function lets you control who has permission to see what data. Sometimes, this kind of security is handled at the data level itself (for example, read, write, edit, delete, and so on).

In general, compensation data is the most sensitive in a sales organizations and requires the tightest permissions. Only the commission recipient, their manager, and relevant parties in finance should see the numbers for a given commission report. Other types of reports, such as those that make territory assignments clear, should be easily accessible by everyone in sales to avoid confusion.

Make Data Fun

In other cases, a leaderboard can be created to publically showcase how close people are to a goal. Remember in the first unit, annual planning uncovered the need for a competition to see who can make the most sales calls? A leaderboard can be created to see how many calls can be made in a day or to see how many prospect meetings can be set in a week. These sorts of competitions can make repetitive work fun.

Make It Bite-Size

Lastly, good reports are digestible. Few people can look at a wall of data and extract its takeaways. Formatting, charts, and filtering make large sets of data understandable to the naked eye. Data accessibility (being able to access the reports) and digestibility (being able to interpret the reports) are the two main components of meaningful sales reporting.