Imagine watching a basketball game without a scoreboard. It would be nearly impossible to understand what was happening or who was winning.
Now imagine playing in that game. It would be difficult to know how far behind or ahead you were, how much time was left, or what you needed to do to win.
That’s what selling without a sales dashboard is like.
But a sales dashboard is only useful if it’s done well.
What is a Sales Dashboard?
A sales dashboard gives your team a fast and efficient way to see all the data that is most important to doing their job effectively.
Most customer relationship management (CRM) tools have the built-in ability to create dashboards for your team. This can be convenient since the CRM is likely where most of your sales data already resides.
There are also 3rd party programs that integrate with your CRM, though. Some of these give you more customization options.
These are tools like:
- Zoho Analytics
Why Use a Sales Dashboard?
You may be asking yourself, “if a dashboard is just pulling data from my CRM, why not just have your reps look at the CRM itself?”
CRM data can be difficult and time-consuming to sort through. This not only takes time away from selling, it can introduce a lot of opportunities for mistakes.
With a sales dashboard, though, your reps can quickly see where they are in relation to their goals and identify trends and opportunities that will help them close more deals faster.
Sales leaders can use a dashboard to understand the game their team is playing as they sell and identify where reps may need help or extra training.
Now, let me take you through a step-by-step process to build a great dashboard that can give you visibility and insights into your sales execution.
3 Steps to Set Up a Successful Sales Dashboard
#1 Decide What Metrics Matter
Every dashboard should be customized to your needs and unique to your organization. Your dashboard should consist of KPIs or metrics that define success for you and your team.
It should have input metrics as well as output metrics. It should have lead metrics (like activity) and lag metrics (like pipeline and closed-won). And you also need to incorporate double click metrics (DCMs) to give context to the number on the dashboard.
For example, our pipeline is at 125%, however, when we double-click that number, we see that we only have 30% of the opportunities we should have. This adds to the risk of the business as the pipeline is full of large deals that may swing either way.
Who is the dashboard for?
At the end of the day, the list of metrics you can include on your dashboard is nearly endless and will depend on your unique needs.
To begin figuring out what to include on your dashboard, identify who will be using the dashboard.
You need to make sure that everything they need on a daily basis is front and center and that nothing they don’t need is cluttering it up.
A dashboard for frontline reps will look very different than one for a sales manager, for example. The data a manager needs to effectively keep track of their team (like onboarding metrics) would only get in a sales rep’s way.
That being said, there are some metrics that you’ll find in almost every dashboard. So, let’s look at a few we should consider
This is the total amount of revenue booked in a measurable period. Most likely this will be measured by month, quarter, or year.
This metric is used to measure a sales team’s deliverables against a target set by the management team.
This metric is also used to pay out incentives to sales reps based on their individual or team quota achievement (this is likely the part your reps care about most).
Supporting the closed-won metric are some double-click metrics like:
- Average Sales Cycle: The average time taken for a deal to close from the date it entered the sales pipeline.
This metric can be tracked to see the efficacy of the sales teams and/or maturity of the product-market fit.
- Average Sales Price: The average value of a deal that closed in the system.
This metric allows you to predict the entry point for most customers and can also help in creating bundles.
- Number of Deals: The total number of deals that contributed towards the close.
This metric is used to calculate risk in the business. If you have fewer clients, the risk of churn is higher than if you have a larger client base.
This is the total amount of opportunities that have a likely closure in the given time period.
This metric is used to predict if a team will be able to reach their closed-won targets.
Typically a team will use historical data to decide if the pipeline needs to be 2x, 4x, or even 8x that of the closed-won needed (often called Pipeline Coverage).
Supporting the pipeline metric are some double click metrics like:
- Aging: The time a deal has been in the pipeline since inception. Aging can also focus on the time a deal has been in a particular sales stage.
For example, a deal has been 20 out of the 30 days in the demo stage (which is 4x longer than the 5 day average for this stage), what’s going on there?
This can be used to understand the health of a pipeline.
Having multiple deals in multiple stages is a good sales motion. For example, if every one of your prospects is in the contracting phase, that may overwhelm your legal team.
- Average Sales Price: What’s the average sales price of the deals in the pipeline.
This metric allows you to gauge the confidence of a team or team member to sell big. Most under-confident reps and managers will have smaller deal sizes.
This metric also allows you to differentiate between your team being truly productive or just plain busy.
- Pipeline by Source/Product: The source of your pipeline generation and the product for which the pipeline is being created.
The number of sales activities your team is participating in is a great way to understand the overall productivity of your team and how the pipeline will develop.
Email, inMails, and Calls are the biggest source of meetings and must be tracked at an individual sales rep level.
This allows you to see exactly which reps are succeeding or struggling at exactly what activities. And this, cross-referenced with some of the other data on your dashboard cna give you a good indicator for where you may be winning or losing deals.
Consider including metrics that are owned by other functions that still affect sales.
These could be metrics like expense ratio that you share with finance, churn with customer success, and MQLs with marketing.
#2 Consider the Design and Flow Carefully
The design and flow of your sales dashboard is incredibly important. You could set it up to just show a bunch of important numbers, randomly scattered about, but you’d be missing out on the real benefits of a dashboard.
By making things visual, and organizing the data carefully on screen, you make it easier for reps to read and you can guide users across various metrics to make diagnosing issues and identifying trends much easier.
For instance, bar charts are great, but when we use stacked charts we can break down the components that make up the bar chart. And if we add colors to the mix we can illustrate whether the metrics meet our goals or not.
Using colors like green for meeting goals and red for missing goals can give numbers meaning on a dashboard. It also makes it much easier for your reps to see at a glance how well they’re doing.
When considering the flow of your dashboard, one good rule is to keep lag metrics on top. The downward flow will allow you to troubleshoot or co-relate the performance of the lead metrics below based on the lag metric above.
For example, if you have closed-won on top, you may have a pipeline chart below it, and an activities chart below that. This way, if we miss our closed-won numbers, we look at the corresponding pipeline and then corresponding activities.
Put any extra details you have in a report rather than a dashboard. This allows for diagnosis-deep-dives in case of a performance drop or increase without cluttering the dashboard itself.
Let’s look at some of the charts we can use to add these metrics to the dashboard
These are used to break quarterly numbers down into monthly numbers to understand the pacing of the team.
It allows you to see which months are skewing the performance so you can see where you need to direct your focus.
For example, in the example below, Q4 is clearly the largest contributor to the business given it is the year-end.
Just using numbers may seem simple, but there is a lot you can do with them to make them more visual and pack even more information into them.
Numbers on their own are often not very helpful. It can be easy to get lost in a sea of them.
Give the numbers context by coloring them depending on whether the performance is good, acceptable or bad. And organize them next to related numbers and charts, so it’s easy for your reps to see at a glance where they stand and how each metric affects those around it.
For example, below, the average deal size is healthy however it has taken a toll on the sales velocity and increased the average sales cycle.
These are used to breakdown the contributions of various teams, products, and lead sources to understand the complete picture.
You can also align this to the selling cycle to understand what the health of the pipeline is.
For example, below we can see if your pipeline has been created by a single rep or a shared responsibility of the team. It also shows whether you are creating more pipeline for your high-margin products or low-margin ones.
are great for gamification and help create healthy competition between teams and individuals.
This information can also be used as a coaching tool. You can use it to see if reps are comfortable sending emails versus picking up the phone or track the behavior of your top reps, so you can use it as a model for others.
Gamification can be an important part of your toolkit as it allows you to direct your reps’ focus.
For instance, if you want your reps to focus more on cold-calling, you can make that metric a scoreboard that is always visible.
#3 Connect it to Your Data
Your dashboard is only as good as the data that supplies it.
If you are building a dashboard inside your CRM or if you’re using a dashboard platform that integrates with your CRM, keeping your dashboard itself updated is relatively easy and requires little to no work.
If you use excel or something else to store your data, or if you’re using a tool that doesn’t integrate with your CRM, you will likely have to manually transfer the data.
That’s why the real power of dashboards is unlocked when you use APIs to automatically pull data into your CRM so you can eliminate any manual data processing which can be slow and faulty.
An Example Sales Dashboard
Let’s take a look at a sample dashboard for Michael Scott, Regional Sales Manager at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Inc.
As you can see, the dashboard has a distinct flow. It has sections for lag indicators on top and lead indicators below.
It also looks at other metrics that are important to building a healthy business.
Every component of your sales dashboard should contribute to the overall understanding of your business and how the different metrics affect each other.
Finally: Be Flexible
The goal is to create a tool that helps your reps be fast, agile, and data-driven. But you may not get it perfect on your first attempt.
You don’t need to know everything your dashboard needs before you start. It is a living document. You can update it and change it as you identify gaps and as your team develops.
So, start somewhere, and be flexible.