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Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough to Reach Your Revenue Target?

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough to Reach Your Revenue Target?

Many managers that use salesforce are still not gaining the sales funnel insight they expected.

In particular, they want to know much more about the sales funnel and their revenue goals.

Sure, they’ve got salesforce dashboards set up. These give visibility of the sales funnel and sales performance. But its still a challenge to create a robust sales forecast.

That means they can’t use salesforce to get a definitive answer to that most fundamental of questions.

Is my sales funnel big enough to make my revenue target?

But it’s worse than that.

Knowing you’ve enough sales funnel to make your target for this month is one thing. But what if the sales funnel only contains early-stage Opportunities? Deals that may take two or three months to close. How confident can you be then of achieving this months’ target?

Fortunately there’s a sure-fire way to use salesforce.com to know whether you’ve enough sales funnel – of the right type – to meet your revenue target.

Not just the target for this month. The quarter’s sales target too. Indeed, businesses that track the sales funnel in salesforce in the way we describe here, get a clear picture of how likely they are to achieve annual, quarterly and monthly revenue targets.

Here’s how it works. And when you’re done watch the accompanying video.

Monthly Sales Target

First you need a new custom object and a new tab. Let’s call it Monthly Sales Target, although it doesn’t really matter how it’s named. If Monthly Sales Quota, Revenue Objective or Monthly Sales Forecast make more sense in your business, that’s fine.

The Monthly Sales Target stores the sales target for each sales person for each month. There’s a record in salesforce for each sales person for every month of the year. If you track performance against target quarterly, rather than monthly, that’s fine. There’s simply going to be four records per sales person per year, rather than 12.

The ‘Month’ and ‘Year’ fields on the Monthly Sales Target tell us the time period to which the target relates.

Here’s the most important field, Sales Target. This is the target or quota for the sales person for that month. Every month may have the same Sales Target figure, or they can vary to reflect seasonal trends. It’s up to you.

Compare Sales Funnel to Monthly Sales Target

Here’s how you know whether there’s enough sales funnel to meet the Sales Target figure.

You need some code that automatically links each Opportunity to the relevant Monthly Sales Target. You can either build the code yourself or you can purchase our pre-built target tracker app.

Here’s what the code does. It looks at the Opportunity Owner and the Opportunity Close Date. Then it links the Opportunity to the Monthly Sales Target that matches the Owner and the From / To dates.

Link the sales funnel Opportunity to the Monthly Sales Target

If the Close Date subsequently changes, then the code ‘unhooks’ the Opportunity from that particular Monthly Sales Target and links it to a new one.

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Sales Funnel Metrics

Next, the code ‘rolls-up’ the value of all Opportunities to the Monthly Sales Target.

These metrics indicate whether the sales funnel is big enough to meet the revenue target.

Critical metrics on the Monthly Sales Target help you understand whether you’ve enough sales funnel to meet your revenue target. These include:

  • Won Amount. The value of all Opportunities that have an Opportunity Stage of Closed Won.
  • Funnel Amount. The value of all Opportunities in the sales funnel.
  • Weighted Sales Funnel. The value of all Opportunities in the sales funnel, based on the Expected Amount (the Opportunity Amount multiplied by the Probability).
  • Expected Revenue. The value of Closed Won Opportunities plus the Weighted Sales Funnel.

In many businesses, this last one is a killer metric.

Expected Revenue

The Expected (or Weighted) Revenue figure shows whether this sales person has enough sales funnel, combined with the business they’ve already closed, to meet their sales target.

In our example above, the month target is £30,000, but the Expected Revenue is just under £25,000. We don’t have enough! This is emphasized in the percentage figures on the right. The embedded chart also shows a shortfall in the sales funnel compared to target.

But there’s more to it than that.

Sales Funnel Shape

Look at the chart to the right of the salesforce page. It provides more detail on the sales funnel Opportunities associated with this Monthly Sales Target record.

Look at the Monthly Sales Target for the current month. Let’s say your deals typically run through a 90-day sales cycle. That means you don’t want to see many deals forecast to close this month, in the Prospecting Stage. It’s likely these deals aren’t going to close in the current month.

On the other hand, if it’s the Monthly Sales Target for three months’ time, then look at the sales funnel shape. Lots of early-stage funnel Opportunities due to close in three months is probably a good thing.

Sales Funnel Dashboard

But what about the company or team-level sales target?

Here’s how we find out if the sales funnel is big enough to meet these revenue targets.

The dashboard chart and underlying report give us that information. And using Expected Revenue, the reports give us a robust sales forecast. One that will stand up to detailed scrutiny.

Sales funnel compared to revenue targets using a salesforce dashboard.

Of course, none of this replaces the need for proper sales funnel management.

The Opportunity Probability still needs to be reliable on each deal. But it does give the sales manager the tools necessary for effective sales funnel management. This is especially the case if the Monthly Sales Target reports are used in conjunction with other salesforce dashboards and reports that identify the poor quality deals. These are the deals that over-inflate your sales funnel. Weed out the lame ducks that give a false sense of future revenue.

And finally, get in touch today if you’d like to test drive our target tracker app for yourself.

Watch Gary demonstrate the salesforce funnel management solution described in this blog in this video.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

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Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

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5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

Don’t Let Your Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

Don’t Let Your Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna, read our blog post, 12 Must-Have Charts On Your Salesforce Dashboard.

“That’s the dashboard for me”, thought Colin. “Especially the Pipeline by Stage and Month.”

So Colin had his system administrator install the dashboard from the AppExchange.

But there was a problem.

The most important dashboard chart didn’t look like the beautiful example in our blog post.

Salesforce dashboard chart showing opportunities by close date and stage.

Colin’s was, well, to put it frankly, a mess. It was full of deals with opportunity close dates in the past.

Pipeline has lots of opportunities with close dates in the past.

“It looked more like an old washing line”, said Colin.

This meant Colin didn’t get the pipeline visibility he craved. The opportunity close dates in the past destroyed the benefits the chart brings. And Colin couldn’t tell which deals were still alive and which had been lost.

So Colin called us up. Asked what he should do. We were happy to help. Here’s what we said.

We explained to Colin that there are two sides to the problem.

  1. Existing deals with opportunity close dates in the past. Colin needs to sort out the existing opportunities with a close date in the past. We told him there are five ways this can be done and explained when each approach is appropriate.
  2. Colin needs to stop the ‘opportunity close dates in the past problem’ from recurring again.

So, here’s what Colin did to solve the problem. And what he’s doing now to stop it happening again.

If your pipeline chart looks like an old washing line, you can easily do the same.

Fix the immediate ‘Close Dates in the past’ problem

You have five options for dealing with the problem of opportunities with close dates in the past.

1. Go through the opportunities one by one yourself

Update the Close Date on each opportunity.

At the same time, change the Opportunity Stage for deals that should no longer be in the sales pipeline. For example, change the Opportunity Stage to Closed Won or Closed Lost.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • There’s a relatively small number of opportunities.
  • Accurately updating each opportunity with a close date in the past is important.
  • You’re prepared to do the work yourself (or can’t get anyone else to do it).

2. Mass update all opportunities to Closed Won or Closed Lost

This is the broad-brush approach. Simply set all opportunities with a close date in the past to Won or Lost.

You can do it with a little more subtlety though. For example, mass update all opportunities where the close date is more than one year in the past.

To do this you can use a List View to update many opportunities at the same time. (Tip: If you use Opportunity Record Types then filter the List Views by record type in order to perform mass updates).

This approach is appropriate when:

  • The accuracy of opportunities with close dates in the past doesn’t matter too much.
  • There are far too many opportunities to go through one by one.
  • You are prepared to sacrifice the accuracy of historic sales performance reports.

3. Get salespeople to update their own opportunities

This is a variation of option 1.

Get the Opportunity Owners to do their own dirty work. Have them go through their opportunities and update the Close Dates and (where appropriate) the Opportunity Stage.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • The accuracy of reports and charts that track historic sales performance is important.
  • There are viable opportunities that have close dates in the past.
  • It is a worthwhile investment in time for salespeople to review out of date opportunities.

4. Mass update all Close Dates in the past to a future date

Take all the out-of-date opportunities that are still open and give them a close date in the future.

Then you – or the sales team – take time to update each opportunity accurately.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • There are live or viable opportunities with close dates in the past.
  • No one has the time to sort them out right now.
  • Until the opportunities are reviewed, you are prepared to accept that the pipeline chart will contain lost or dormant deals.

5. Sweep the problem under the carpet

Modify the report that underpins the dashboard chart. Change the Close Date ‘From’ value so it only includes opportunities where the close date is greater than a specific point in time.

For example, you might filter the report to show opportunities with a Close Date ‘From’ the first day of this month. That means there will only be a relatively small number of opportunities on the report with close dates in the past. Just sort those out and ignore the rest.

This approach is appropriate when:

  • It is unlikely anyone will get around to updating out-of-date opportunities.
  • The pipeline chart will be based only on opportunities with close dates greater than the date you have chosen – and you are prepared to accept this.
  • Your system administrator acknowledges that all dashboard pipeline reports will need to incorporate the fixed ‘From’ date.

Optionally, combine some of these options.

For example, you might do a mass that sets opportunities with a close date of more than one year ago, to Closed Lost.

Then, update the remainder so they have a Close Date in the future. Have salespeople go through these deals one by one to pick out the viable deals.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Stop the ‘close dates in the past’ problem from recurring

If the pipeline chart contains deals with Close Dates in the past then you lack clear pipeline visibility.

That means you can’t get an accurate revenue forecast. And it is impossible to know whether you have enough pipeline, to meet future sales targets.

Here are four ways you stop the problem happening again.

1. Avoid sloppy management

Proactive sales management means being on top of the pipeline. In that case, there shouldn’t be any deals with close dates in the past. Simple as that.

Good sales management means the sales pipeline is well maintained. It gives sales managers the key information they need to conduct funnel reviews at all times.

2. Coach salespeople to self-manage their pipeline

Sloppy sales management is only part of the story.

Effective salespeople don’t allow their pipelines to become out of date.

Salespeople need to understand the importance of keeping the Close Dates and Opportunity Stages accurate. That means each person has an accurate view of his or her pipeline.

3. Create an alert when the Close Date is today

Use workflow to create an email alert when an Opportunity is due to close today. This draws the salesperson’s attention to the deal so that they update it.

Optionally, trigger the alert when the Close Date is tomorrow.

This is a useful technique when you need to emphasize the importance of keeping deals up to date. Ideally, salespeople self-manage their pipeline and using dashboard charts tailored to their needs.

But, if you want to draw more attention to deals that need to be updated, then this is one way to do it.

4. Use a validation rule

A validation rule kicks-in when a salesperson makes a change to an opportunity. If the close date is in the past, this prevents the opportunity saving.

Effectively, it means the salesperson has to update the close date in order to make any change.

This solution is often implemented by companies that have a problem with close dates. However, I’m not the greatest fan.

The validation rule approach doesn’t actually prevent the problem from occurring. If the opportunity is not updated (which, given that the close date is in the past suggests is the case) then it won’t prevent close dates from drifting into the past.

The most effective approach is to apply good sales management practice and have salespeople take pride in the accuracy of their individual funnels.

How Colin solved his close dates in the past problem

Colin had several hundred opportunities with close dates in the past.

Here’s what he did.

  1. Colin used an Opportunity List View to quickly identify deals he knew for sure had been won. He updated them on the salesperson’s behalf to Closed Won.
  2. Then he set all deals more than a year old to Closed Lost. Some of these deals were probably won. However, as the opportunity was out of date, it’s likely many were lost. Colin accepted the risk of inaccuracy in historic reports.
  3. He assigned two hours one Friday afternoon. Each salesperson reviewed and updated their own opportunities during this time. A number of dormant opportunities were re-energized as a result of this focused review.
  4. Colin explained to his team managers the importance of good pipeline management.
  5. He had everyone read our blog post about the Open Opportunities by Stage and Month.
  6. Colin played this video at his team meeting. The video and blog post gave managers valuable insight into how to use the dashboard chart to manage the pipeline effectively.
  7. Colin had every sales manager explain the importance to salespeople at local sales team meetings.
  8. He mandated a review of the Open Opportunities by Stage dashboard chart at every sales meeting.
  9. Colin got his system administrator to create a second version of the sales dashboard. This runs on ‘My Opportunities’. The sales managers educated each salesperson on how to use the dashboard to analyze their own pipeline and sales performance.

The result? Colin gets a robust view of the company sales pipeline. Now, he accurately identifies the action sales people and managers need to take to boost revenue. And it means Colin is confident of making is quota.

“Now, this truly is the dashboard chart for me”, says Colin.

Related Blog Posts

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

How To Plug A Leaking Funnel In The Right Place

Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

Salesforce dashboards to increase visibility of the sales pipeline and improve forecasting accuracy.

There’s no doubt about it.

That’s the number one reason businesses invest in salesforce licenses.

Yet many sales managers are frustrated.

They still do not have the salesforce dashboard charts that give visibility into the size, quality and trend in the sales pipeline needed to forecast accurately. They also can’t look back at historic results to gain the insight that will drive improvement in future sales performance.

But that problem can be fixed.

Here are examples of the 12 must-have salesforce dashboard charts that every sales manager needs.

These salesforce dashboard charts, and the underlying reports, give tremendous visibility into the sales pipeline and sales performance. For each dashboard chart, we also point you to a dedicated blog post and other resources for even more in-depth information.

In the interests of brevity we’ve ignored variations of these charts. These variations can provide additional insight for your business by analyzing sales performance by product, campaign, territory, customer type and so on. Use the charts examples recommended in this blog post as the core building blocks to create your organization-specific salesforce dashboard and reports.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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1) Closed Won Opportunities by Month


We all want to know how much sales revenue has been won. That’s what the Closed Won Opportunities by Month dashboard chart tells us.

The chart shows how much sales revenue the company has achieved during the financial year.

Closed Won Opportunities chart on the salesforce dashboard measures revenue achieved this financial year.

In this example, the dashboard chart and underlying report summarize the information by individual sales person. If you have a larger sales organization, then group the chart by team, country or territory.

The dashboard chart and report give top-level insight into sales performance. In our example, Dave Apthorp is consistently the top performer. Sarah has improved her performance significantly after a poor start to the year. Peter, in particular, can benefit from coaching and training to improve his performance.

Combine this information with your personal knowledge of each team or individual to get an immediate overview of sales performance across the company. Use the other dashboard charts that analyze historic performance (for example conversion rates, average deal size) to determine the specific support and actions each person needs to take in order to increase their sales results.

Incidentally, the trick here – as with many salesforce dashboard charts – is to create the graph as a stacked bar chart and the underlying report as a Matrix report. Yes, it’s slightly easier to create a Summary report. However it’s only a small step further to create a Matrix report. And the results are so much more powerful.

Of course, the Closed Won Opportunities by Month dashboard chart doesn’t tell us anything about future revenue performance. That’s where the other pipeline charts we recommend come into play.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Closed Won Opportunities salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Closed Won salesforce dashboard chart:

10 Illuminating Ways To Measure Closed Won Deals. Examples of other ways to analyze historic sales performance.

When Is A Report Not A Report. Demonstrates why Matrix Reports are nearly always better than Summary Reports.

2) Pipeline Deals by Close Date and Opportunity Stage


If you only use one dashboard chart to manage the sales pipeline then make sure it’s this one.

Opportunity pipeline report and chart on the salesforce dashboard shows deals due to close over the coming months.

The chart shows the value of Opportunities that are due to close each month. Within each month, we can see the deals in terms of the Opportunity Stage. Stacking the chart by Stage gives visibility of the overall health of the funnel.

The Pipeline Opportunities By Close Date and Opportunity Stage dashboard chart delivers the fundamental information needed to manage the sales funnel. Sales managers and executives can use this chart to assess the size of the pipeline and to begin forecasting future revenue.

This dashboard chart also tells us whether the pipeline is sufficiently mature this month and next month to achieve revenue targets. This means managers and salespeople have an early warning that tells them when remedial action is necessary

For example, let’s assume we are in January.

There’s a substantial amount of pipeline due to close this month that is still in Prospecting and Investigation. If, for example, our typical sales cycle is 3 months, are we confident these deals will close in January? Are they at the right Opportunity Stage? Should these opportunities be scheduled to close in a later month?

What about the deals in April that are in the Negotiation Stage? Is it really going to take 4 months to close these opportunities? Maybe. Or are there steps we can take to bring these deals forward?

A key variant of this dashboard chart is the Pipeline Opportunities by Close Date and Owner.

Examine the pipeline by opportunity owner using this salesforce dashboard chart.

Use the summary by Owner to identify which teams or salespeople have the most pipeline due to close both this month and in the longer term.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Opportunities by Close Date and Month salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline by Month and Stage salesforce dashboard chart:

If You Only Create One Dashboard Chart Make It This One. This blog posts gives more examples of how to use this dashboard chart and includes a video by Gary demonstrating the chart in action.

Don’t Let The Best Sales Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line. Explains what to do if too many opportunities with Close Dates in the past make your beautiful chart look like a washing line!

3) Sales Funnel Chart


The sales funnel chart should be on your dashboard because it’s a good graph to look at – once a week.

The sales funnel salesforce dashboard chart reveals whether the pipeline shape is in proportion.
Here’s the thing about this chart. The shape never changes.

It doesn’t matter how big or how small your pipeline is. The outline funnel shape will always be the same size and shape on your dashboard.

So why bother with it?

Well, the answer is because of the value of the information the segments within the funnel give you.

If the sales funnel was in perfect shape, the value of the pipeline in each segment would get progressively smaller.

But that’s not always the case. In fact, if you look at our example, the value of deals in Investigation is less than the value in Customer Evaluating. In other words, the later Stage has more pipeline than the preceding Opportunity Stage.

Look also at the Prospecting Stage. A significant number of deals may be qualified out at this initial stage. So, should the Prospecting Stage be larger?

In other words, the chart is warning that your pipeline may be out of shape. Potentially we need to initiate marketing campaigns to boost the size of the early-stage funnel. We may also need to examine our qualification and investigation processes in order to move deals more effectively through the sales cycle.

Is the shape of the sales funnel chart in your business a cause for concern? Only you know the answer to that question within the context of your sales team.

But that’s why it’s a good chart to look at once a week.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the sales funnel salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the sales funnel dashboard chart:

Big is Beautiful: 4 Easy Charts To Measure Pipeline Size. Demonstrates the sales funnel and other dashboard charts that measure pipeline size.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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4) Top 10 Pipeline Accounts


In most companies, the sales team will be able to nominate immediately the top one or two prospects.

But what about the top 5? Or the top 10?

The Top Pipeline Accounts table shows customers and prospects ranked by total pipeline. This helps managers and salespeople in prioritize their time. It means salesperson effort, time and other resources is focused on areas where it is likely to have the greatest impact.

Prioritize salesperson time and effort using the Accounts with most pipeline salesforce dashboard chart.Displaying the information on a dashboard table is a good way of focusing attention on the top Accounts. Limit the dashboard table results to the top 5, 10 or 15. Then on the underlying report, list all Accounts with Open Opportunities.

In our example, we can see that High Hill Estates has the greatest amount of pipeline. In fact, it has twice as much sales pipeline as the next nearest Account.

Are we proactively managing the relationship with this Account? Is a robust key account management plan in place? Do we understanding their buying process? Have relationships been established at multiple levels? Has a clear close plan been established and validated with the customer for each opportunity?

The underlying report shows the constituent Opportunities for each Account. Can a large, single deal be done if the report reveals the total figure for High Hill Estates comprises multiple, separate opportunities? Indeed, if the CEO has time to visit only one Account, let’s make it this one.

In short, the Top 10 Pipeline Accounts dashboard table and report provide the essential information that helps executives prioritize the companies’ sales, account management and business development activities.

And don’t forget, like any other dashboard chart, replicate the table at territory, team and individual salesperson level to prioritize activity at all levels in your sales organization.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Top 10 Accounts salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Build Key Account Plans In Salesforce. Demonstrates examples of key account planning within salesforce.

Stop Guessing, Start Measuring Key Accounts. Reports and salesforce dashboard charts that measure key account performance.

5) Long-Term Pipeline Trend


Dashboard chart numbers 2 to 4 describe the sales pipeline as it stands right now.

But what about the trend in the size of the sales funnel over time? Is the pipeline increasing or decreasing in size?

The Sales Pipeline As-At chart gives us the answer. It measures the size of the pipeline ‘As-At’ the 1st of each month. As such, it shows the long-term trend in the size of the sales pipeline.

The Long Term Pipeline trend dashboard chart shows the size of the sales pipeline on the first day of each month.Grouping the information by Historical Stage gives additional insight on the make-up of the sales pipeline. It allows us to understand the overall trend by Opportunity Stage.

In our example, the pipeline has been growing over recent months. This is largely due to a significant increase in deals in the Prospecting Stage. That’s good news. Do we understand why it has happened?

We may also want to investigate why the size of the pipeline in the Customer Evaluating and Negotiation Stages has declined. Are the sales team having trouble moving deals through the sales process? Was the pipeline created over the last few months of the right quality?

The As-At Pipeline chart has a little sister. It’s called Opportunities with Historical Trending. This chart measures the short-term trend in the pipeline. For example, the trend in the size of the pipeline over the last 4 weeks.

Use the dashboard charts in tandem to understand the trend in the size of the pipeline. The As-At report gives the big picture – it tells whether efforts to grow the pipeline in the long-run are effective. The Historical Trending chart demonstrates whether short-term initiatives to boost funnel size are successful.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts:

Measure The Trend In Your Sales Pipeline. Demonstrates the Long-Term Pipeline Trend and Short-Term Pipeline Trend salesforce dashboard charts in action.

6) Open Opportunities by Created Date


Size isn’t everything. Quality matters too.

Here’s a simple but effective way to assess pipeline quality. It’s the Open Opportunities by Created Date dashboard chart.The Pipeline by Created Date dashboard chart is an excellent way of examining the age and quality of the sales pipeline.The chart shows the existing funnel, summarized by Created Month and current Stage. You may also want to create a similar report and dashboard chart that summarizes the information by Created Month and Opportunity Owner.

Let’s say it typically takes three months to close a deal in your business. If there are significant number of opportunities open much longer than this, then are these genuine, viable deals?

As such, the chart and underlying report give executives the information they need to start the process of validating the sales pipeline.

In our example, let’s assume we are in January 2017 and that our sales cycle is typically 3 months. What about the opportunities opened in February, March and April 2016? Are we confident they are legitimate opportunities? Did the Close Dates shift regularly simply to maintain the size of the pipeline? What action should we take to bring these deals to fruition?

Reviewing the pipeline by Created Date is a simple, but effective way of identifying potentially dormant deals in your pipeline. But it also gives valuable information on how much pipeline is being created month-on-month.

Look again at our example chart. Progressively less pipeline was created over the last 3 months of the year. Should we be concerned about this? Perhaps it’s due to a strong focus by the sales team on closing existing deals before the end of the year. On the other hand, is it an early warning that we may have insufficient pipeline to meet our sales targets in Q1 2017?

Either way, we may need to implement marketing and business development initiatives to correct the trend.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Open Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Opportunities by Created Date salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Tell If Your Sales Funnel Is Emitting Warning Signals. salesforce dashboard charts that indicate the pipeline may contain ageing deals of low quality.

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7) Pipeline Quality Metrics Table


If you want to predict tomorrow’s weather here is the most statistically reliable way to do it. Whatever the weather is like today, forecast that is how it will be tomorrow.

Sales deals are similar.

Deals that are stuck today will probably be stuck tomorrow. Opportunities that slipped last month are more likely to slip this month.

Here are three pipeline quality metrics that act as a barometer for managers and salespeople.

Three metrics on the salesforce dashboard highlight deals that are likely to slip from one month to another and result in the sales forecast being missed.

1. Number of Close Date Month extensions. This counts the number of times the Opportunity Close Date has shifted from one month to another.

2. Number of Days Since The Last Stage Change. This is the number of days since the Opportunity Stage was last updated.

3. Number of Days Open. This is the number of days the Opportunity has been open. The clock stops counting when the deal is Won or Lost.

Display the information in a dashboard table. In our example, we are showing the metrics for the top 10 deals due to close this month, ranked by the number of days they have been open.

This is high impact stuff. The table is a powerful way to draw the eye to deals due to close this month that need to be scrutinized.

Are we relying on these deals to hit our sales quota this month? How confident can we be that each opportunity will not slip to another month? Will the sales cycle complete satisfactorily on those deals not updated for a significant period? That may be unlikely.

Use the table to improve the accuracy of sales forecasts. The three pipeline quality metrics do not give the answer in themselves. But they do give a heavy hint on which deals should be reviewed and need an urgent action plan.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Pipeline Quality Metrics salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Pipeline Quality Metrics dashboard table:

3 Killer Pipeline Metrics That Highlight When To Be Sceptical. Explains how to use the three metrics to identify deals that might slip from your sales forecast for this month.

8) Opportunity Conversion Ratios / Win Rates


A small increase in Opportunity conversion rates has a disproportionately high impact on overall sales revenue.

That’s why measuring opportunity conversion ratios / win rates is critical.

The opportunity conversion rate salesforce dashboard chart shows the win rate by salesperson for each month of the year.

The Opportunity Conversion Ratio / Win Rate chart shows the percentage win rate over time. It does this in two ways:

  • Win Rate by Amount.
  • Win Rate by Count.

Measuring the win rate in both ways means we can understand whether salespeople are more effective at closing higher value or lower value deals.

In our example, the win rate by Amount is higher in most months. This means we successfully closed a greater proportion of large value deals compared to smaller opportunities.

In September and October, the situation reversed. The team successfully closed a greater proportion of lower value deals.

Did the sales team lose focus on the higher value deals? Did we discount more heavily during these months? Or did we have new joiners that had less experience with larger deals?

The underlying report gives detail about win rates at the individual salesperson level. This is crucial information for identifying coaching, training and support needs.

Nevertheless, be careful. An over-emphasis on win rates can have unwanted consequences. Do not risk encouraging sales people to leave opportunities out of the pipeline until a deal is on the table (i.e. sandbagging).

Conversely, don’t discourage salespeople from setting deals to Closed Lost when opportunities no longer have legs. You need an accurate pipeline, not one full of dormant deals that salespeople are afraid to close-out.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Opportunity Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Conversion Rate salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Use Opportunity Conversion Rates For Superior Results. More in-depth examples of how to use conversion rates and opportunity win rates for effective sales performance management.

How To Measure Opportunity Win Rates Across Teams. Examples of dashboard charts that compare team and pan-company conversion rates.

9) Average size of Closed Won Deals


Recent research with one of our customers shows a 65% variation in average deal size between salespeople in one team.

That is a huge range.

All salespeople are working comparable territories. And selling the same products to similar customers.

Increasing the average deal size for salespeople at the lower end of the scale was a business development priority for this company. Addressing this issue resulted in increased sales revenue without any increase in the number of deals in the pipeline.

This salesforce dashboard chart shows the average size of closed won opportunities for each salesperson.

Many things explain variations in average deal size. These include differences in experience between salespeople, variations in the average number of products sold per opportunity and different levels of discounting by sales teams.

These are challenges that our customer addressed through training, coaching, personal development and adjustments to sales process and pricing strategy.

Nevertheless, unless you quantify this essential metric you will lack the information needed at salesperson level to identify the right course of action to boost revenue.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Average Deal Size salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Average Deal Size salesforce dashboard chart:

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size. Additional information on using average deal size metrics to identify potential improvements in sales performance. Includes examples of how Opportunity Products can be analyzed to understand which salespeople need to add more optional or non-core products to their deals.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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10) Completed Activities per Salesperson


Sales deals do not close themselves. Pipelines do not grow automatically.

Tracking the number of completed sales Activities can provide valuable insight to explain varying levels of sales performance. Review Activity reports in conjunction with the other dashboard charts outlined in this eBook to analyse trends and variations in sales performance.

Sales deals don't close themselves so use the Completed Activities dashboard chart to track salesperson effort in winning opportunities.

In our example, there is an upward trend in the number of Activities completed by the sales team. That’s a positive sign. Indeed, the increase in Activity volume by Sarah may be a strong contributory factor in the improvement in her sales performance over the year that we saw on other charts.

However, we can also see that there are variations in the number of Activities completed by each salesperson. Shaun and Peter have recorded significantly lower levels of Activity compared to Sarah and Dave.

Consider tracking Activity levels by salespeople in several different ways. For example, compare activity with new customers versus existing customers. This will show whether the activities undertaken by salespeople are consistent with the overall sales strategy.

Improve the effectiveness of this dashboard chart by making two small configuration changes in salesforce.

First, modify the Activity Type picklist to values that suit your business. Make the field mandatory, This will provide additional insight on the type of activities that salespeople are completing.

Second, make the Due Date mandatory. This means activities will always be associated with a date. This is essential for producing dashboard charts that accurately count the number of activities completed each month.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Activities salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Activities salesforce dashboard chart:

How To Spot Key Accounts You Should Be Focusing On. Explains how to use Activity Reports and dashboard charts to identify key accounts that need a renewed focus.

11) Leaking Funnel Report


Every sales funnel leaks. That’s the nature of the game. It’s why the traditional sales pipeline chart is shaped like a funnel.

But there’s two things that sales managers need to know about funnel leakage. Is the funnel leaking excessively? And is it leaking in the right place? The Leaking Funnel report tells you both of these things.Use the leaking funnel salesforce dashboard chart to analyze deals that have been lost from the sales pipeline.This dashboard chart measures the number of times Opportunities have moved to Closed Lost from each preceding Opportunity Stage. In our chart, it does this for deals that have been set to Closed Lost in the last 120 days.

For example, the dashboard chart shows that 8 Opportunities have moved from Prospecting, directly to Closed Lost.

All other things being equal, it is good that the first Opportunity Stage has the largest number of Opportunities that move to Closed Lost.

This implies we are qualifying-out deals we are unlikely to win. It means salespeople are not wasting time, effort and resources chasing deals when there is no clear competitive advantage.

However, look at the Negotiation Stage. Five Opportunities went directly from Negotiation to Closed Lost.

Again – all other things being equal – that movement in Opportunity Stage is bad news. It means we invested a considerable amount of time and effort moving the deal through the sales cycle, only to lose the opportunity at the last moment.

Of course, we need further investigation on the movement from Negotiation to Closed Lost before deciding on the right course of action. Is the trend attributable to one particular salesperson? How does the data compare for existing versus new customers? Does it apply only to opportunities with certain product groups?

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Leaking Funnel salesforce dashboard chart:

3 Steps To Plug A Leaking Sales Funnel In The Right Place. How to measure where and when the sales funnel is leaking in order to take the right action.

12) Sales Performance versus Target


Measuring sales performance against target is a fundamental aspect of managing a sales team.

However, there is no Target tab in salesforce.

So how do you measure sales versus target or quota? Well, there are three ways to do this in salesforce.

  • Use a gauge on a dashboard.
  • Use the Forecasts tab.
  • Use the GSP target tracker solution.

It’s the first of those options we illustrate here.There are three ways to track sales performance against target in salesforce; the dashboard gauge is the quickest and easiest to implement.The dashboard gauge runs from a report that measures Closed Won opportunities. Manually calibrate the red, amber and green settings within the dashboard chart settings.

The dashboard gauge option is quick and easy to implement. The downside, compared to the other two options, is that it provides no insight on whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet the sales target next month or this quarter.

Separate gauges need to be used to track performance versus target for each individual salesperson and sales team.

The Forecasts Tab provides advanced functionality for target tracking, including the ability of managers to override their subordinates targets. It is, however, relatively complex to operate and salespeople and managers need significant training to use it effectively.

The GSP Target Tracker App provides easy-to-understand charts and additional metrics to measure sales versus target. It also automates the forecasting process and avoids the need for sales people to create or update manual sales forecasts. The App also allows sales managers and salespeople to determine whether there is sufficient pipeline to meet target for this month and future months.

Link to video demonstrating how to use the Target gauge salesforce dashboard chart.

 

More blog posts related to the Target Gauge salesforce dashboard chart:

3 Ways To Measure Sales Versus Target in Salesforce. Explains the options for measuring sales performance against target in salesforce – dashboard gauge, Forecasts tab and the Target Tracker.

Is Your Sales Funnel Big Enough To Make Your Revenue Target. Using a custom solution such as the Target Tracker to measure expected revenue against target.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

Find out more and watch the video

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Recorded Webinar | 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts

Join Gary Smith, CEO of The Gary Smith Partnership and Senior Consultant Dan Bailey. Gary and Dan demonstrate the 12 charts in action and the contribution each makes to performance improvement and pipeline management.

Related Blog Posts

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart In 2017, Make It This One!

Don’t Let Your Best Dashboard Chart Look Like A Bedraggled Washing Line

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart, Make It This One!

If You Only Use One Sales Pipeline Chart, Make It This One!

Nothing is more useful to a sales manager than a sales pipeline chart that gives a comprehensive view of the funnel.

That’s exactly what the Pipeline by Month and Opportunity Stage sales pipeline chart gives you.

It’s my absolute favorite in our 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts. In fact, if I could only have one sales pipeline chart then it would be this one.

Tip: You don’t have to build this dashboard chart yourself. If you haven’t done so already, download our free GSP Sales Dashboard from the AppExchange. That way you can easily install all 12 recommended sales pipeline charts in your own salesforce environment.

So here it is. It’s the sales pipeline chart shows the Pipeline by Close Date and Opportunity Stage.

This sales pipeline chart gives robust visibility of the funnel on a salesforce dashboard.

The chart shows the value of opportunities due to close each month. Within each month, we can see where those deals are in terms of the Opportunity Stage and the sales process.

Let’s assume we are in the middle of October right now.

We can see that in this month, there is £600k worth of Opportunities due to close. This value is split by the various Opportunity Stages. In salesforce, hover over each Stage for additional detail.

This is powerful information from a sales management point of view.

It gives sales executives the essential information they need to manage the sales pipeline effectively. The underlying report facilitates accurate forecasting. Dud deals can be identified. And the sales pipeline chart helps to prevent that all too common problem, an over-inflated sales pipeline.

Tip: When the Pipeline by Stage chart is first created in many businesses, it doesn’t bring the immediate clarity you expect. That’s because the pipeline is full of opportunities with Close Dates in the past. In fact, the chart looks more like a bedraggled washing line. However, that problem of Close Dates in the past can be easily fixed.

Current month pipeline strength

Let’s stick with our assumption that we’re in the middle of October right now. And, in this case, let’s assume our typical sales cycle is 3 months.

As a sales manager looking at my October projected revenue, I want to know just how robust the October pipeline really is.

The sales pipeline chart shows the value of deals due to close this month, split by opportunity stage.

Those deals that are in Prospecting, for example. If our average sales cycle is three months, are we confident those deals on the sales pipeline chart will close this month? Should some of them be at a more advanced Stage? Do the close dates need to be moved to a later month? Have the close dates on some of this opportunities slipped from one month to another before?

The same with the Investigation and Proposal Made Stages. Are we really going to close these opportunities this month? If not, then our October pipeline is significantly over-inflated.

December pipeline strength

Let’s look at another month in the sales pipeline chart.

What about those deals in the negotiation stage in December? Is it really going to take us three months to close these deals? Is there anything we can do to bring them forward?

The sales pipeline chart shows deals scheduled to close in December.

In fact, looking at the sales pipeline chart for December, we have a lot of funnel value that’s due to close. But just how robust is that? Are these deals in December because the financial year of many customers ends that month? If so, we can legitimately expect many deals to get completed in the run up to Christmas?

Have many of the opportunities due to close in December been sitting in our pipeline for a long time? Have sales people entered December as the close date on the basis that (hopefully) the opportunity is “bound to be closed” sometime during the year?

If that is the case, then the December pipeline is nowhere near as strong as we might hope.

January pipeline strength

The sales pipeline chart shows there’s a dip in the size of the funnel in January.

The sales pipeline chart shows there's a dip in the size of the pipeline for January.

Is this due to legitimate seasonal variation? Or is it something we should be concerned about? As a sales manager, do I need to start organizing some marketing campaigns now, with a view to boosting the pipeline 3 or 4 months from now?

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Deals due to close before today

Let’s stick with our assumption that right now we’re in the middle of October.

What are these deals doing here on the sales pipeline chart? The ones with the close date in September.

Opportunities with a close date earlier than today are revealed on the sales pipeline chart.

Unless you have a time turner, these deals aren’t going to close in September!

But we see this very often. Open opportunities with close dates in the past. Either those deals have already closed and the opportunity stage hasn’t been updated. Or, the close date needs to be moved because they are still open.

A case in point. Colin Parish, VP of Sales at Moderna downloaded the dashboard package containing the sales pipeline chart. But Colin’s chart didn’t look like our beautiful example, based on his own sales data. That’s because Colin’s funnel was full of opportunities with close dates in the past. Read how Colin solved this problem.

Underlying report for the sales pipeline chart

Let’s go down to the underlying report.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart.

The report provides more detail than we saw in the sales pipeline dashboard chart. The report data shows the specific value of opportunities that are due to close by month, by each opportunity stage.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Like any other report, we can click on the Show Details button to see the underlying opportunities.

Now we can start to interrogate the individual opportunities that make up the chart and report data.

Right click on any opportunity to open it in a new tab. This way you can examine the individual opportunity details, whilst still retaining the open report.

Sales Pipeline Chart Video

The sales pipeline chart and underlying report give sales managers robust visibility of the funnel, in a meaningful and useful way.

And of course like any other chart, it doesn’t just need to be visible to managers. Team leaders and individual sales reps can manage their own pipeline, using this exact same sales pipeline chart.

In the video below I explain how to use the sales pipeline dashboard chart and the underlying pipeline report to manage the funnel effectively.

Create the Sales Pipeline Chart

If you don’t want to download the full 12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts, then here are step-by-step instructions for creating this salesforce dashboard pipeline chart and underling pipeline report.

  1. Start on the reports tab, click new report then select an Opportunities report.
  2. Adjust the basic filters. Set Opportunity Status to Open. Set the time Range to All Time.
  3. Set the Format to be a Matrix report by clicking on Tabular Format.
  4. On the left hand side chose Opportunity Stage.
  5. Across the top of the report chose Close Date. Adjust the date format to Group By calendar month.
  6. Pull the Amount field into the body of the report.
  7. Click on the Show link to remove the record count. Repeat the process to set the report to Hide Details.
  8. Run the report to check that it looks the way you expect.
  9. Now create a chart directly in the report. Click on Add Chart in the Customize section.
  10. Choose the vertical bar chart.
  11. On the Y axis select the Opportunity Amount.
  12. On the X axis select the Close Date.
  13. In the Group by, select Opportunity Stage.
  14. Now choose the stacked bar chart.
  15. Click on the Formatting tab. Put the legend below the chart. Enable the hover. And put the chart below the report.
  16. Now run the report and check your chart.
  17. Save the report (remember, not in your Personal Folder, no-one else will be able to see it).
  18. Click on the dashboard tab and select the dashboard to which you want to add the chart.
  19. Click on Edit on the Dashboard.
  20. Drag a bar chart from the left hand pane onto the dashboard.
  21. In the Data Sources tab, find the report you want to use for the dashboard. Drag it onto the component you’ve just added to the dashboard.
  22. Rather than creating a new chart within the dashboard, let’s pull in the chart we’ve already created on the report. Click on the spanner symbol on the chart. Tick the checkbox, ‘Use chart ad defined in source report’.
  23. Finally give it a header and a title so that people know exactly what they’re looking at.

If in doubt watch the video – I demonstrate fully how to create the report and dashboard chart.

Related Sales Pipeline Blog Posts

12 Must-Have Salesforce Dashboard Charts | With Video And Examples

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

How To Stop ‘Closed Lost’ Screwing Up Salesforce Dashboards

Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

3 Ways To Measure Performance Against Sales Target In Salesforce In 2017

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Many frustrated people have looked for the Target tab in salesforce.

Don’t waste your time. It does not exist.

Yet measuring performance against sales target is a critical activity in running a sales team. Isn’t it?

Fortunately there ARE ways to measure performance against sales target in salesforce.

In fact, it goes deeper than that.

We need to know how the company, sales teams and individual reps performed historically against their sales targets. But we also need to know whether there’s enough pipeline to meet the target this month or next month or next quarter.

Without this information, you are flying blind.

That is an uncomfortable position. As the pilot, it means you cannot adjust the controls and take action to make sure the sales target will be hit.

For example, if you know there is enough pipeline to meet next month’s sales target then focus the team, first and foremost, on closing existing deals.

On the other hand, if there is insufficient pipeline you have a different challenge. You need to close the deals that do exist. But the sales team also need to find new pipeline simply to have enough to go at.

So measuring performance against both historic and future sales targets is essential. Here are the options for doing this in salesforce.

There are three ways to measure performance versus sales target in salesforce. We explain how each one works, its pros and cons and when its the best solution.

By the way, if you like Option 3 then get in touch. We have a package that is easy to implement for this.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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Options for measuring sales targets in salesforce

Here are the three options. They provide salespeople and managers with different levels of information. We’ve described the options and given pointers to indicate the situation in which each is appropriate.

Option 1 – Dashboard Gauge

Use a salesforce dashboard gauge to indicate overall achievement against sales target.
Salesforce dashboard gauge is a simple way to measure performance against sales target.

The arrow indicator shows the current sales performance. Use the red, amber and green segments to set relevant break-points. For example, amber to represent 80% target achievement, green for 100% sales target achievement.

Feed the gauge using an underlying matrix or summary report. The report simply needs to summarize the value of deals won over the relevant period of time.

Pros of the gauge approach

  • The report and gauge are simple and easy to set up.
  • The gauge is easy on the eye.
  • It’s a quick and powerful summary of sales performance against target.

Cons of the gauge approach

  • It is a blunt instrument. For example, if the gauge is at the company level, there’s no visibility of individual rep or sales team performance against sales target.
  • The breakpoint values must be manually re-calibrated for each target period. If the target next month is different to this month, the breakpoints need to be modified.
  • Pipeline deals are not shown. This means we don’t know if there’s enough funnel to meet the sales target for next month. There’s nothing to tell us, for example, if 30% of pipeline deals are won whether the target will be hit.

It’s the right choice if

  • You need to set something up quickly.
  • You need a Board-level chart to summarize performance.
  • You only need to measure top level performance against sales target. Alternatively if you are prepared to invest the time you can set up similar gauges for individual salespeople and teams.
  • Sales targets are the same for each time period. Breakpoints don’t need to be modified each month or quarter. (Or remembering to re-set the red, amber and green breakpoint values on a monthly basis isn’t going to be a problem).

The dashboard gauge is a viable option for relatively straightforward target measurement. It’s a simplistic solution. On the other hand, if you need to set up a sales target reporting mechanism in the next 5 minutes then this is the option to go for.

Remember, use the gauge in conjunction with other dashboard charts and reports to gain full visibility of the sales performance and pipeline.

Option 2 – Salesforce Forecasts Tab

The Forecasts tab is a sophisticated and advanced way of tracking performance versus sales target.

The Forecasts Tab is an advanced and sophisticated way to track performance against sales target.

View Closed Won opportunities that contribute to sales target achievement in the Forecasts tab.

Pipeline deals are also included. These opportunities are categorized to indicate how likely they are to close successfully. Managers have important information on the strength of the funnel and the extent to which sales targets will be hit.

Managers can also override the forecasts made by their direct reports. This means they can adjust the overall forecast to balance excessive optimism or pessimism of salespeople.

There is a downside. The Forecasts tab is a relatively complex piece of functionality. Training and coaching is needed to help both salespeople and managers use it to full advantage.

Pros of the Forecasts Tab

  • Set targets at individual, team, company and product family level.
  • Track performance against sales target based on opportunity category including won, committed, pipeline and best-case deals.
  • Allow managers to override forecasts submitted by their direct reports and modify the projected performance against target for their team.
  • Review forecast history to learn from forecasts submitted in the past.
  • Drill down from the top level forecast to examine performance against sales target at individual rep and team level.

Cons of the Forecasts Tab

  • The Forecasts tab is relatively complex to set up and use.
  • It requires detailed training for sales reps and their managers.
  • Salespeople must update their individual forecasts in order for the overall forecast to have meaning. This means a high level of commitment is required across the team to get the full benefits.

It’s the right choice if

  • You have sophisticated target measurement requirements.
  • Managers must be able to override the forecasts submitted by their salespeople.
  • The sales team is mature and already has a good level of salesforce user adoption.
  • The business is prepared to commit to appropriate training for salespeople and managers.

The salesforce Forecasts Tab provides robust target tracking and forecasting capabilities. However, bear in mind that successful roll-out means appropriate planning and configuration effort.

Option 3 – GSP Target Tracker

Many of our customers use the GSP Target Tracker to measure performance against sales target. We have created it as a managed package that can be easily implemented to any salesforce environment.

Much less training is needed for salespeople and managers to use the Tracker compared to the Forecasts Tab. The solution also takes away the need to manually create forecasts.

Closed won and pipeline deals are automatically linked to the relevant sales target. Targets can be measured against secured business and the anticipated revenue from funnel opportunities.

The GSP Target Tracker is easy to use and compares both closed won and pipeline deals to the sales target.

The sales targets are entered into a custom object for each sales person for each month. In the example above, we’re looking at the sales target for Michael Watson in April.

The lower portion of the screen shows the Opportunities that have been automatically linked to this target record. The Target Tracker does this by looking at the Close Date of the Opportunity and the Opportunity Owner. The Opportunity is then linked to the relevant target – in this case, Michael Watson’s target for April.

If the Close Date or the Opportunity Owner change the Opportunity is automatically unhooked and linked to the newly relevant target record.

The embedded chart on the left hand side of the page shows Michael’s target in blue, his Closed Won deals in green and the Expected Revenue of his April pipeline deals in orange. The purple bar shows that based on these numbers, Michael has a shortfall against his target.

The doughnut chart to right provides analysis of Michael’s April pipeline by Opportunity Stage. This means both Michael and his manager have clarity on the likelihood that his target will be achieved based on the pipeline deals.

Dashboard charts summarize company and team level information.

Drill down from dashboard charts to view performance against sales target at team and individual sales rep level.

The dashboard chart shows over / under performance against monthly sales target at the company or team level.

Drill down to the underlying report to view the sales rep target. This compares the sales target with the value of Closed Won deals, Expected Revenue from the pipeline.

Pros of the GSP Target Tracker

  • It’s easy for sales reps use. Opportunities are automatically linked to relevant targets.
  • Highly visual information on performance against target is provided.
  • Extensive drill down capability from company level performance to sales team and individual rep.
  • Assess the quality of the pipeline and its potential contribution to target achievement.
  • Easy to set up (implemented through a managed package).

Cons of the GSP Target Tracker

  • A (very reasonable!) license fee is payable.

It’s the right choice if

  • You need a powerful solution that is easier to use than the Forecasts tab.

Download a Powerpoint version of this blog post by viewing the accompanying SlideShare, How To Manage Sales Targets in Salesforce.

We have implemented each of the options described in this blog post for customers. Contact Us to find out more about applying each approach in your business.

Track Sales Performance And Pipeline Versus Target

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Recorded Webinar on sales targets in salesforce

Watch Gary Smith and Nick Ambrose demonstrate the three solutions in action.

Related Blog Posts

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

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5 Easy Tips That Will Make Opportunity Probability Your Trusted Friend

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

Why You Need To Compare Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

Recent research by GSP with one of our customers showed a 65% difference in the average closed won opportunity size.

That’s a huge variation.

All salespeople are working comparable territories. Selling the same products to similar customers.

So the variation represents a potential weakness in the sales process of some salespeople. And that’s a major opportunity.

So here’s a summary of the investigation.

Average Closed Won Opportunity Size

The first step was to create an Average Closed Won Opportunity Size report.

Tip: To do this, start by creating a matrix report. Assign Opportunity Owner to the left column. Place Close Date (grouped by month or quarter) across the top. Then add the Amount field to the main body, summarized by Average.

To register for a free dashboard that includes the Average Closed Won Opportunity Size report complete the form at the foot of this blog post.

Here’s what the resulting salesforce dashboard chart looks like.

This dashboard chart shows average size of closed won opportunities in salesforce.

And here’s the underlying report.

This salesforce report shows the average size of closed won deals.

The report shows that Dave’s average closed won deal size is $58K. This compares to $35K for John. That’s a 65% difference.

Average Closed Won Opportunity Size Compared to Total Sales

Let’s put some context on the figures. A large average deal size is no good if total sales are low.

Here’s the comparison.

Closed won opportunity revenue per salesperson.

Now we can see that Dave not only has the highest average closed won opportunity size. He’s also the top sales person. To find out the full story on this, read the blog Dave Apthorp: The Best and the Worst Salesperson.

John is the lowest performing salesperson and has the lowest average closed won opportunity size.

The overall sales performance of Sarah and Shaun is roughly in line with average deal size.

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Average Number of Products per Opportunity

We spoke to the team manager, Colin Parish. Colin speculated that the average closed won opportunity size is closely correlated with the number of products sold on each opportunity.

In particular, Colin believed that the high performers sold more optional products.

Let’s see if he’s right.

The chart shows the proportion of the average opportunity size in terms of Core and Optional products.

Salesforce dashboard chart that shows the contribution of optional products to the average closed won opportunity size.

The split between Core and Optional is made using a custom field with these picklist values on the Product.

We can see that a significant proportion (over 35%) of Dave’s average deal size is made up of Optional products. In other words, Dave is doing a great job of adding ancillary products and services to his opportunities. That’s boosting his average closed won opportunity size.

Sarah is ranked third in terms of average closed won opportunity size and second in overall sales. Yet we can see the small contribution – less than 5% – that optional products make to her deals. Coaching Sarah in this area is likely to produce a direct increase in deal size and revenue.

“Sarah has one key challenge – she needs to add more optional products to her opportunities. She’s spending two days with Dave Apthorp, learning from his expertise.”

The chart is less conclusive for John and Shaun. They have some way to go to achieve the same ratio as Dave. But perhaps there are other factors also at play? Let’s examine that in a moment.

One final point on adding optional products before we move on.

Many salespeople find it difficult using the standard user interface in salesforce to find the right products to add to opportunities. It’s a common problem. Take a look at the product selection wizard to make it easy to identify and add products to opportunities.

Price Discount Impact on Average Opportunity Size

John sure is the leader on one dashboard chart. He gives away a higher proportion of revenue in discounts than anyone else!

salesforce dashboard chart that shows the amount of discount given away by each sales rep.

Dave and Sarah give away the least amount of discount in percentage terms. If Sarah can up her game in terms of the number of optional products per opportunity she’ll be at Dave’s level of sales performance.

Shaun and John can improve in terms of both optional products and discount giveaways. Colin is spending time with both, coaching and supporting them to improve their overall sales performance.

One final thing on price discounts. We recently interviewed pricing expert Tony Hodgson. for ideas on how to avoid giving away excessive margin through discounts.

“Most companies can increase profit by between 2 and 4 percent by doing nothing other than getting a grip on price discounts.” Tony Hodgson, Pricing Solutions.

Here are the 10 tips for controlling price discounts that Tony gave us. Colin is already implementing most of them!

Lessons learned

Here are the five lessons Colin says he has learned from looking at average closed won opportunity size.

How many can be applied to your business?

  1. Average closed won opportunity size is an essential sales metric that gives powerful insight.
  2. The metric can’t be used in isolation. Other reports add meaning to the figures.
  3. Tagging products Core and Optional is a really useful way of understanding how effective sales people are at up-selling.
  4. It’s important to measure price discount giveaways. The 10 pricing tips is a great resource for managing discount amounts.
  5. Have a range of sales metrics about closed won opportunity size gives managers the essential information they need. With these metrics, rep-specific coaching, training and support interventions can be made.

When all is said and done, there are only three ways to increase sales revenue. Increase the size of the pipeline, improve opportunity conversion rates, and increase average closed won opportunity size.

Go out and boost your revenue 🙂

Complete the form below to obtain a FREE SALESFORCE DASHBOARD that includes the opportunity conversion rates shown in this blog post.

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How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How to use opportunity conversion reports for superior results

How well do you know the opportunity conversion rates in your sales team?

Because when all is said and done, there are only 3 ways to increase sales.

  1. Grow the pipeline.
  2. Increase average deal size.
  3. Increase the opportunity conversion rate.

They’re all important.

“In most businesses, a small improvement in the opportunity conversion rate will yield a disproportionate increase in sales revenue.”

Measuring opportunity conversion rates (or win rates, if you prefer) helps identify ways to increase sales. And that’s a good thing.

Like many other salesforce dashboard charts, the opportunity conversion rate graph doesn’t give you the answer.

Rather, it tells you what questions to ask.

But be careful.

An over-emphasis on opportunity conversion rates can actually reduce your salesforce benefits. And that’s a bad thing.

So, here’s the right way to measure opportunity conversion rates in salesforce.com and here’s how to use those reports.

(Before we get started, here’s the dashboard chart that shows whether your pipeline is growing. We’ll cover average deal size next week.  If you haven’t already done so, register for updates here).

How to measure opportunity conversion in salesforce

Let’s take an example from one of our customers (the sales reps names have been modified). It shows how to report on the opportunity conversion rate.

Opportunity conversion rate dashboard chart in salesforce.

The dashboard chart shows the conversion rate in two ways.

  • Won % (Count). This is the percentage conversion rate in terms of the number of opportunities.
  • Won % (Amount). This is the percentage conversion rate in terms of the total value of opportunities.

Here’s the key thing about the chart. It shows the percentage won as a proportion of the total opportunities closed in each month (i.e. won and lost). It doesn’t calculate the proportion of deals won as a percentage of the total open pipeline. Doing the latter produces double-counting and incorrect metrics.

The chart shows that in three months – July, August and October – the conversion rate by Amount was higher than the rate by Count.

That’s probably a good thing. It implies that a greater proportion of high value opportunities are being successfully closed compared to lower value opportunities.

In September the trend is reversed. It appears more low value opportunities were closed successfully. That’s something we’ll want to investigate.

The overall opportunity conversion rates are around 35% in this company. Two months – July and October – exceed 40%. That’s quite high. Is it a good thing? Perhaps. Let’s investigate further.

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Opportunity conversion rate salesforce report

Here’s the underlying report for the chart.

Opportunity conversion rate report in salesforce.

In addition to the Won % (Count) and Won % (Amount), the report shows:

  • Sum of Amount. The total value of Won and Lost deals in the month.
  • Sum of Amount Won. The value of Won deals in the month.

These metrics are useful because they put the opportunity conversion rates into context.

For example, Shaun Yates has a 100 percent opportunity conversion rate for October. On the other hand, the Amount Won is only £5,000 – that’s small compared to the total value won by other salespeople in the month.

How to interpret the opportunity conversion report

Like any other salesforce report, we need to know how to use it. Here are 5 insights we can gain from the report above. Don’t forget, we need to validate each insight through further reports and investigation.

  1. Dave Apthorp focuses on higher value deals. Dave’s Won % (Amount) is consistently higher than the Won % (Count). Actually a previous blog post tells us why that is. Dave featured in the post, The Best and the Worst Salesperson on the salesforce dashboard. It turns out Dave puts all of his eggs in the two or three biggest deals each quarter and virtually ignores all the rest.
  2. John Davies has the lowest opportunity conversion rates.On the face of it, John will benefit from coaching that will improve his win rates. But we need to check that there isn’t more to it than just that. Is John focused more on new rather than existing customers? Is he operating in a new market? Or is he converting Leads into Opportunities much earlier than other salespeople and then qualifying them out at an early stage?
  3. Sarah Watson focuses on lower value deals. Sarah’s opportunity conversion rate is much better in terms of Count than Amount. Potentially she needs guidance on her approach to opportunity prioritization. Or she needs coaching and more experience in handling larger deals.
  4. Shaun Yates has consistently the highest opportunity conversion rates. Does this mean Shaun is a superstar salesperson? Perhaps. But his full-year conversion rate of 55% is suspiciously high. Potentially Shaun is keeping opportunities out of the pipeline until he’s confident that a deal is on the cards. Reviewing the time in stage velocity metrics will help determine this.

Gotchas to watch out for with opportunity conversion

Analyzing opportunity conversion rates is an effective way of identifying the actions that are needed to increase sales performance.

 

“Take care to use other reports and metrics to validate the insights you gain. Be sure you are not stimulating adverse behavior.”

  • Sandbagging. Are sales people deliberately keeping promising deals out of the sales pipeline? Do some deals only get introduced to the pipeline when the salesperson is confident an opportunity will be won? We already suspect Shaun of sandbagging. The impact is to boost opportunity conversion rates. But it also means managers lack full visibility of the sales pipeline and sales performance.
  • Pipeline over-inflation. This is the opposite of sandbagging. Deals that are well past their sell-by date never get closed. There are many reasons why deals do not get closed out of the sales pipeline. Over optimism that a deal, one day, will be done. Repercussions when deals are closed out. And even an over-reliance by the management team on opportunity conversion metrics.

Avoid these issues by using opportunity conversion rates in conjunction with other measures. For example, track average deal size, deal quality metrics and sales velocity measures.

Use opportunity conversion to increase sales revenue

So let’s say we’ve done our investigation. We’re happy with the numbers.

Here are seven ways that opportunity conversion rates can be used to boost sales revenue.

  1. Opportunity qualification. Low conversion rates are not necessarily a bad thing. As Bud Suse points out, there’s no point expending a lot of time and effort on a deal only to come a close second. Far better to create opportunities at an early stage whilst you investigate them. Then qualify-out those where you have a low chance of winning.
  2. Share and learn. Identify the salespeople with high opportunity conversion rates and share and learn from their experience and expertise across the team.
  3. Teach. Train and coach individual reps on how to improve their opportunity conversion rates.
  4. Territory analysis. Compare conversion rates across territories. Identify the systemic lessons that can be shared across regions and territories.
  5. Customer types. Optimize sales revenue by adjusting the balance of effort between new and existing customers.
  6. Value proposition. Test the impact of different marketing campaigns and go-to-market strategies.
  7. Funnel leakage. Use conversion rates in conjunction with Leaking Funnel reports to understand how and why deals are being lost from the sales pipeline.

Opportunity conversion rate is a powerful sales metric. Use it (just don’t abuse it) to increase sales revenue in your business today.

Complete the form below to obtain a FREE SALESFORCE DASHBOARD that includes the opportunity conversion rates shown in this blog post.

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Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

Big is beautiful: The 4 easy dashboard charts you need to measure pipeline size

Size matters.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Big is beautiful. At least when it comes to pipeline size.

That’s all other things being equal, of course. Bigger is better, assuming the sales pipeline only contains deals of the right quality. To make sure this is the case, there are a number of dashboard charts and reports that accurately measure sales pipeline quality.

So, here are the four salesforce dashboard charts and underlying reports that accurately measure the size of the sales pipeline.

1. Pipeline size by Close Date and Stage

If you only create one pipeline size dashboard chart then make it this one. It’s the starting point for any funnel review focused on pipeline size.

Salesforce dashboard chart showing pipeline size by month and stage.

The dashboard chart shows the size of the pipeline by Close Date. The individual segments group the pipeline size by Opportunity Stage.

Why this chart is useful

Use this chart to assess the size and strength of the pipeline, both near term and into the future.

Here are three examples of the insights this chart gives.

  • Pipeline size this month. The dashboard chart in our example shows the pipeline for September is £2.5M. Let’s assume the typical sales cycle is 3 months. In which case, we need to confirm how many of those deals in the Prospecting Stage can be relied upon to successfully close this month.
  • Negotiation Pipeline. October and November both have deals at the Negotiation Stage. Is it really going to take several months to conclude these opportunities? Maybe. But it is also probably worth investigating whether these deals can be brought forward to boost this months’ revenue.
  • End of year pipeline. December shows an upturn in the size of the pipeline. We need to know if this is realistic. Is there a compelling reason why more deals will close this month? Sometimes December 31st is entered into opportunities on the basis of, “well, it’s bound to close sometime this year”. If so, then the December pipeline size is overstated.

If you like the sound of this dashboard chart that measures pipeline size then read “If You Only Create One Chart Make It This One” (video included).

Incidentally if you have the same problem as Colin Parish – lots of opportunities with close dates in the past – here’s what to do about it.

2. Standard funnel size dashboard chart

This chart shows the pipeline size in the form of a traditional sales funnel.

Opportunity funnel dashboard chart showing total sales pipeline.

It’s often the first chart that gets created on the dashboard because it’s the one that resembles a traditional funnel.

Why this chart is useful

Actually, we have mixed views about this chart.

The funnel chart is a good way to check whether the pipeline is in proportion.

In the chart above, for example, the value of deals in the Investigating Stage and Customer Evaluating Stage is almost identical. This suggests a shortage of pipeline in the earlier Investigating Stage. It’s highlighting that the funnel is out of kilter.

Here’s another example. Look at the funnel size chart below.

Pipeline size displayed on a funnel dashboard chart highlighting that there is a shortage of early-stage opportunities.

The total pipeline is exactly the same. But the pipeline is short of deals at the first Opportunity Stage, Prospecting. Again, it’s highlighting a sales revenue problem down the road.

But there’s several things to watch out for with this chart.

First, there’s not time context with this chart. It shows the total size of the pipeline, irrespective of when those deals are likely to close.

Second, the shape of the dashboard chart doesn’t vary with the amount of pipeline at each Stage. What does vary is the height of the slices and the numbers within them.

So be careful. This pipeline size dashboard chart is a good one to eyeball every week. It describes whether the total pipeline is in proportion. And that’s a good reason to have it on your dashboard.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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3. Pipeline size dashboard metrics

When is a dashboard chart not a chart? When it’s a dashboard Metric.

Here’s an example of what we mean.

Dashboard metric showing total pipeline size.

A salesforce dashboard metric gives a single total figure that it pulls from the underlying report.

So, to easily view the total size of the pipeline, use a metric.

Here are two other examples. First, the total value of open opportunities due to close this month.

Dashboard metric showing total pipeline size due to close this month.

And second, the size of the pipeline due to close next month.

Dashboard metric showing total pipeline size due to close next month.

What it’s good for

Dashboard metrics give an immediate understanding of the overall size of the pipeline.

In the example above, if you know your sales target for next month £0.5M, then all other things being equal, you’re probably in good shape. If the target is £1.5M you’ve got a problem. But least you know there’s a problem, and that gives you chance to do something about it.

4. Trend in the size of the pipeline

This chart measures the trend in the size of the pipeline. It’s called the As-At Historical Pipeline Trend report and dashboard chart.

As-At dashboard chart that displays the size of the pipeline on the 1st day of each month.

The chart shows the size of the pipeline As-At the first day of each month. We can see here that the month-on-month trend is positive. The pipeline is getting bigger.

What it’s good for

Effective sales managers know the size of the pipeline at any point in time.

But they also know the trend in the size of the pipeline. The trend tells them whether they are doing the right things. Moving in the right direction. Making headway.

This dashboard chart also comes with a little sister that measures the trend in pipeline size on a daily and weekly basis. Read this blog post to find out more about pipeline size trend dashboard charts.

Pipeline size salesforce dashboard

Here’s what a salesforce dashboard might look like with these four charts that measure sales pipeline size.

Salesforce dashboard chart that gives management insight into the pipeline and funnel size.

The dashboard charts give sales executives the essential information on pipeline size. And the bigger the size of the pipeline, the more you are likely to sell.

All other things being equal.

But size is no good without high quality. It’s important to identify which deals need to be questioned in terms of close dates. That’s why we’ve also published blog posts that demonstrate specific dashboard charts to measure the quality of deals in the sales funnel. Combine with the pipeline quality charts with pipeline size charts to get the complete management picture.

For help with all things dashboards, of course, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

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5 Big Problems with Sales Adoption (and how to fix them)

5 Big Problems with Sales Adoption (and how to fix them)

“The sales forecast spreadsheets never match what’s in salesforce”.

That from the VP of Sales of a prospective customer last month. He was complaining about low sales adoption of salesforce.

I’m sorry? What did you say?

Why on earth are you still using spreadsheets for sales forecasting when you have salesforce?

Actually, low sales adoption of salesforce is more common that you might think. And one way this manifests is continuing to use spreadsheets for forecasting and pipeline management.

Here is the business impact that emerged when we discussed low sales adoption with this VP of Sales.

  • Lack of pipeline visibility. A single salesforce dashboard provides a perspective on the size, quality and trend in the pipeline from different angles. A spreadsheet usually gives a one dimensional picture.
  • It’s clearly more time and effort to maintain opportunity information in two places rather than one.
  • Inconsistent information. Different teams using different spreadsheet formats and structure.
  • Lack of consolidation. Rolling up multiple spreadsheets into a single company-level view is a cottage industry in its own right.
  • It’s difficult to view a spreadsheet from a mobile device or when you’re out of the office. And it can be very difficult if someone else is editing the spreadsheet at the same time!

So low sales adoption is a problem. But it’s one that can be fixed. Usually quite easily.

But of course if you want to change the situation then you need to understand why it happens in the first place.

So we asked the VP of Sales why he thought low sales adoption occurred in his business. We have listed the reasons he gave below – along with our recommended actions for improving sales adoption.

1. Fear of visibility of sales performance

 

Sales adoption problem described by the VP of Sales

Sales people generally don’t vote for more visibility. Or at least the lower performers don’t. Keeping the opportunity information and sales forecast in a spreadsheet minimizes this visibility.

Our sales adoption recommendation

Be careful that this isn’t a management problem. If senior managers are constantly breathing down the necks of sales people on every big deal, then there’s little incentive to use salesforce. And even if you move sales forecasting entirely to salesforce then you risk sandbagging.

If you are confident there isn’t a management problem then check the visibility levels in salesforce. Agree what people can see – and cannot see.

But other than that, tough. It’s a fact of life that sales people operate in a high visibility role. If it’s too hot then don’t come into the kitchen.

2. Managers unaware how to run a pipeline review in salesforce

 

Sales adoption problem described by the VP of Sales

Using reports and dashboards to conduct an effective pipeline review or create a sales forecast needs know-how. Not a lot, but some.

Salesforce reports and dashboards are a tool. In themselves, they don’t manage the sales team. But managers need to know how to use these tools.

Our sales adoption recommendation

Coach sales managers how to conduct both a short term and a long term funnel review in salesforce.

This blog post and the accompanying video explains how to use the single most useful chart on the salesforce dashboard. It’s a good place to start by learning how to conduct a funnel review in salesforce.

3. No pipeline reports and dashboard charts set up

 

Sales adoption problem described by the VP of Sales

When a salesforce sales executive pitches the system, the first thing they do is demonstrate dashboards. And yet it’s remarkable how many companies that have implemented salesforce still don’t have pipeline reports and dashboards set up.

Or at least no decent ones that give effective visibility of sales performance.

If managers can’t get the visibility they need from salesforce then they’re going to keep opportunity information in spreadsheets.

Our sales adoption recommendation

The solution is obvious. Set up opportunity management reports and dashboard charts that give managers the visibility of sales performance and the sales pipeline that they need.

We’ve written extensively to help you do this. Take a look at our most popular blog post, 12 Charts That Should Be On Your Salesforce Dashboard. You might also want to try Spot Poor Quality Deals Using Salesforce Dashboards.

4. Salesforce is too difficult to use

Sales adoption problem described by the VP of Sales

Too many fields have been created on the opportunity. Or too many validation rules. It’s just too damn difficult to create and update an opportunity on salesforce through its lifecycle.

Sales people will, not unreasonably, take the route of least resistance.

If it’s hard to manage deals and produce sales forecasts in salesforce then sales adoption will suffer. Both managers and their team members will gravitate towards spreadsheets.

Our sales adoption recommendation

Take a long hard look at the way salesforce is set up. Are all the fields really necessary? Can the number of mandatory fields be reduced? Are there too many validation rules?

Implementing salesforce so that it genuinely adds value to the sales person is fundamental to sales adoption. There’s multiple ways to do this. For starters, try our blog post 5 Compelling Ways to increase salesforce benefits or even 5 More Compelling Ways to Increase Salesforce Benefits.

5. Lack of sales management desire to use salesforce

 

Sales adoption problem the VP of Sales described

The Sales Manager just doesn’t get it.

They’ve always used spreadsheets. It’s a tried and tested way to manage the sales team. You don’t have to be a computer genius to use a spreadsheet.

That scenario definitely exists.

But sometimes the Sales Manager does actually get it. It’s just that they lack personal confidence in using salesforce. And don’t want to look like a complete numpty in front of their team or peers.

Our sales adoption recommendation

The first scenario is increasingly less common. Where it exists, the Sales Manager needs careful education through demonstrations and external reading. Try many of our salesforce dashboard-related blog posts for examples of the power of using the system to manage sales performance.

And not everyone is confident using a PC or laptop. We have conducted a number of private training sessions for senior executives to educate, coach and instil confidence in using the system. It’s rarely a capability issue, more a matter of knowing how to navigate the system with confidence.

Update: Salesforce adoption in our customer’s sales team

I’m pleased to say the prospective customer on which this blog post is based is now a customer of GSP.

We ran several workshops with the sales team to listen to their concerns. This enabled us to create a tailored approach to increasing adoption and improving forecasting accuracy.

To start with we streamlined their salesforce user interface. Removed many of the superfluous fields and validation rules.

Then we implemented a number of measures to streamline sales processes. This includes implementing Conga and DocuSign to automatically produce customer-ready quotes and proposals directly from salesforce. And in order to make it much easier to find Products and add them to Opportunities we implemented the Product Selection Wizard.

We have re-built their reports and salesforce dashboard charts. The sales team now has full visibility of the sales pipeline. And the ability to forecast accurately using salesforce.

We implemented new target functionality so that sales people and their managers can easily view sales performance against target. This led to a tremendous boost in the popularity of the system for sales executives.

New metrics now track user adoption across the team. Rather than focusing simply on whether sales people have logged on, the metrics measure the quality of interaction with the system. The purpose is to identify people that might benefit from further coaching and advice on how to get the best from salesforce.

One final thing. We conducted a series of one-to-one coaching sessions with each of the sales managers. We showed them how to conduct a pipeline review and sales forecast in salesforce. This gave the team the confidence and know-how to use salesforce reports and dashboards to manage the team effectively.

Needless to say, the sales forecast spreadsheets have been ditched.

So goodbye spreadsheets. Hello sales adoption, accurate forecasting and a more effective way of working.

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5 Tips to Help You Create Perfect Salesforce Reports

5 Tips to Help You Create Perfect Salesforce Reports

Information allows managers to act; data doesn’t. That’s why effective salesforce reports present information in a way that is quick and easy to assimilate. They draw attention to the essential facts. They allows managers to act, not analyse. So here’s our 5 tip guide to creating effective, action-oriented salesforce reports.

  1. Draw the eye to the key information.
  2. Present information in a structured way.
  3. Remove clutter that distracts from the main message.
  4. Group data into meaningful time periods.
  5. Be consistent in the way colour is used in report charts.

We explain what each tip means and how to achieve it in salesforce. We’ve even included videos to show exactly how to apply each tip to salesforce reports.

1. Draw the eye to key information in salesforce reports

Let’s start by answering the question I’m most often asked about salesforce reports. “How do you use colour highlighting to focus attention on the key data?” Here’s an example of what we mean.

Salesforce report with conditional highlighting so that the eye catches the important information.

The report shows the pipeline opportunities for each Account. We can see the account names on the left, and the opportunity close dates across the top. It’s a report that contains a lot of zeros. The important information is any figure greater than zero. That tells us the Account has opportunities that are due to close in that month. Look at Athena Home Products in the top row. The green highlighting immediately shows that this customer has opportunities in two months – February and July.  United Oil & Gas (third row from the bottom) has open Opportunities in months February though to August. The colour shading is done using the ‘conditional highlighting’ feature. Here’s what the same report looks like without conditional highlighting.

Salesforce report without conditional highlighting makes it much more difficult to see essential information.

The viewer has to work much harder to find the important information. In contrast, conditional highlighting means managers can quickly run an eye over the report. They immediately get to see which accounts are contributing to the pipeline, and when. This video shows how easy it is to set up conditional highlighting on a salesforce report.

Incidentally, this report allows managers to challenge their existing account management and business development strategy. It’s key information for funnel reviews so we’ve created a dedicated blog post that explains how to create and apply the Accounts with Open Opportunities salesforce report.

2. Present information in a structured way

The way data is presented makes all the difference. Structure it well and managers can access the information quickly and easily. Present it badly and they’re left to dig the information out for themselves. And that means, nine times out of ten, salesforce reports should be presented in a matrix format. We’ve published many blog posts that explain how to use dashboards to gain visibility of the sales pipeline. In virtually every case, the underlying information is displayed in a Matrix Report format. The ‘Accounts with Open Opportunities’ report in the conditional highlighting tip is an example of what we mean. In this case the matrix has account names down the left, close dates across the top. The information is accessible in a way that allows managers to absorb it quickly and make decisions on how to act. But here’s an alternative way to present the very same information. This time it’s using the Summary report format.

Summary report makes it much more difficult to understand the data compared to a matrix report.

The report is showing exactly the same data. But the Summary format presents the information in a much less usable and accessible way. In fact the resulting report is so unwieldly we had to truncate the screenshot just to display it in this article. So unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise, insist that your salesforce reports are created in Matrix, rather than Summary format. This video shows you exactly how to create a Matrix report.

3. Remove clutter that distracts from the main message

When it comes to sales performance reports, very often less really is more. For most sales managers time is short. So salesforce reports need to present the information clearly and concisely. But very often salesforce reports contain distracting clutter. And chief amongst the clutter is the Record Count. That’s the number of records in the system that make up a total dollar figure. Think about the Accounts with Open Opportunities report. Only the essential information – the value of deals due to close each month – is visible in the report. Here’s an alternative version of the same report. This time it includes the Record Count.

Including the record count in a salesforce report often adds unnecessary clutter.

Does the Record Count add compelling value to the report? Well, it tells us that for American Banking Corporation, the £136,000 that is due to close in March, is made up of two opportunities not one. But the sacrifice we have to make for this piece of information is a lot more data in the body of the report. Plus it almost doubles the overall length of the report, meaning the viewer has to scroll much further down to see the full report. It event means we have to truncate the screen shot to fit it into our blog post! So unless the Record Count adds meaningful value in your salesforce report, remove it. Here’s another example of clutter. Again the same report. But could you manage effectively using this report?

If details are shown in the salesforce report it is much harder to access management information.

What’s happened here is that the report is set to run with ‘Show Details’. In other words, when the viewer runs the report it immediately presents the full underlying information. But effective managers will look at the summary information first. If they need more detail – in this case information on the specific opportunities that make up the report – they can get it by expanding the report. But in the first case, unless a piece of data adds compelling value to the report, remove it. And that process usually begins with the Record Count and setting the report to run with Hide Details. Watch the video on matrix reports to see how to remove the Record Count and set the report to run with details hidden.

12 Must Have Charts For Your Salesforce Dashboard

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4. Group data into meaningful time periods

Most salesforce reports that provide information on the sales pipeline or won revenue summarise the data by date.

For example, managers want to see the value of deals due to close each month. That’s what our Open Opportunities by Account report tells us.

But managers need the information in meaningful time periods. For many of our clients, the sales cycle is typically three to five months. So salesforce reports need to present the value of opportunities due to close for each calendar month.

Conversely Taylor Woodrow operate in the construction industry. There the sales cycle is often three to five years. So salesforce pipeline reports present the information in calendar quarters. For managers in Taylor Woodrow, that’s a meaningful period of time.

In either case, it’s not relevant to present the pipeline in daily segments.

But look at what happens when you first apply a date to a salesforce report. Here’s our Accounts with Open Opportunities report again.

By default salesforce groups by individual dates on reports.

The Close Dates across the top automatically group by individual dates.

That’s a severe case of not being able to see the wood for the trees.

Fortunately it’s easy to fix (we show it in the video on tip #2), it’s just not always done!

5. Be consistent in the use of colour in salesforce report charts

A picture paints a thousand words. That’s why every great salesforce report has a chart.

Everyone can assimilate information quickly from a chart. But doing it efficiently means having consistency across charts in different reports. Particularly in the use of colours.

And unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Have a look at the two salesforce report charts below, taken from the same salesforce environment.  Both charts show the sales pipeline by close date, grouped by opportunity stage.

Use consistent colors across report charts showing the same data.

The size of the pipeline in both cases is the same. But there’s a major difference.

Different colours have been assigned to the opportunity stages in each chart. On the left hand chart, for example, opportunities in the Prospecting Stage are in blue. On the right hand chart, they’re in brown.

And that’s confusing.

Even more so if you have these two charts alongside each other on the same dashboard.

It happens because salesforce dynamically assigns colours to charts. Ask your administrator to use the feature, “Assign Fixed Colors to Picklist Values” in the configuration area.

So use these tips to increase the impact of the salesforce reports in your business. Make it easy for viewers to quickly access the information they need. Present the information effectively. Remove clutter.

The result will be information, not data. Information that drives the sales pipeline and sales performance.

Good luck.

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