10 min read
In the first year of my business, I hardly spent any time looking at my numbers.
I was a creative who just wanted to make money doing something I enjoyed, so I ignored the numbers. Well, at least until tax time.
I thought if I kept marketing myself and my services that everything would work itself out. I was running a lean business with very low overhead, so I didn’t really have a need for a regular financial review… right? Wrong.
After building an unsustainable business model in my first year (hey, you learn as you go!), I found myself going back to the drawing board to pursue another model that would be more profitable.
Only this time, I would pay attention to the numbers and keep an eye on my analytics. One of the key differences I made was investing in a CRM tool that included a sales dashboard that I would look at every single day.
To go from hardly ever seeing my numbers to seeing them every morning was a big change, but it helped me feel more empowered than ever. Numbers weren’t scary anymore. They simply informed me on how well my business was doing and how I could continue to grow.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar spot, wondering how you can get more comfortable with selling while staying creative within your business.
Instead of looking at selling as the “necessary evil” of your business, think about how it can be the tool to help you grow and scale your business to impact hundreds or thousands of people. And one of the best ways to track your progress with this goal is to keep an eye on your sales dashboard.
It doesn’t matter if you are a solo entrepreneur, small business owner, or the CEO of a large organization. Becoming familiar with your sales dashboard will be one of the best steps you’ll take in tracking your overall business growth.
If you don’t know how well your products or services are selling, you won’t know how to expand and scale your business. Having a sales dashboard is crucial to your business success because it helps you get a big picture view of how your business is performing.
In order to stay profitable and sustainable, you need to make consistent sales and find ways to optimize your sales process. Your sales dashboard will help you summarize these findings and create an overview that can guide your strategy moving forward, much like Business Analyst Mike Grigsby recommends.
Analytics not guided by strategy is like a special effects movie with no plot – there may be explosions and cool battles, but there’s no point to it. (Read more here)
When we use data-driven principles to inform our sales process, we are able to use tools like sales dashboards to enhance our understanding of how our business can grow in its next stage. It will help you understand what is working, what isn’t, and how you can improve your sales over time with various experiments and tests.But before you can understand what elements go into a sales dashboard, it’s good to ask yourself a few questions to help you assess your current selling strategy.
The last two questions on this list are what we will focus on for the rest of this article, but the others will help you get in the right mindset as we move into what your sales dashboard may consist of.
If you don’t understand what sales metrics you need and what they are measuring, it’s easy to disregard your sales dashboard as you forget to check it over time. The problem with doing this is that you won’t have a clear picture of how your business is performing, and we can’t have that!
Instead, here is a comprehensive guide that explains what you need to know about the statistics you see inside your sales dashboard.
We’ll start with a simple term! You’ve probably heard people say that a project is “coming down the pipeline”, especially if you’ve worked in corporate settings. The pipeline refers to the work you have coming up.
If you can think of the pipeline of your business as a queue of clients, it will be easier to assess what your current pipeline looks like. It can help you understand what your wait times are and how quickly you can meet deadlines in order to increase the number of people you can work with or how many people you can work with at a time.
Your pipeline will also let you know if you are on track to hit your goals based on historical conversion rates.
Let’s say that in 2016, you worked with 50 private coaching clients throughout the year. Then in 2017, your sales dashboard would inform you of the best way to close even more coaching clients throughout the year as you manage opportunities that are coming in.
Since it is easier to sell to existing customers than it is to attract new business, this sales metric can be an important one to track. Businesses often forget about optimizing their current marketing and sales strategy to upsell customers they’ve already gained trust from because they want to increase their overall customer base.
Customer acquisition costs can often be higher than customer retention costs, meaning that it could save your business time, money, and resources to focus on upselling your products and services.
The more new business you earn, the more potential you’ll have of upselling them with an optimized sales process as well.
We covered this topic in-depth in another Tradecraft issue, but calculating your customer lifetime value is such a powerful move for your business. While someone may purchase a $25 eBook from you, it may help them build enough trust with you to convince them to buy your $250 online course and invest in the first round of your $1000 group coaching program.
If you weren’t tracking your sales metric on a sales dashboard, you may miss how valuable this specific customer is. Because they are more willing to buy your products, it’s even more important to build a more personal connection with them and see how you can tailor your products to better suit their needs.
This refers to how many new client or customer leads you have in your pipeline. A lead can be anyone who has opted-in for more information about your product or service.
Leads can come from:
In order for a lead to be classified as a new lead, they cannot be someone you have tried to sell a product to before. They would just be a standard lead, meaning they need a different selling process than someone who is brand new and doesn’t know as much about what you offer.
Tracking monthly new leads is great, but it’s even more important to track your monthly sales, which we will talk about next.
Your monthly sales can be found when you look at how many of your monthly new leads purchase a product or service from you. When you keep an eye on your conversions, your sales dashboard will help you understand how to increase your CRO over time.
You can also take a look at your sales cycle throughout the year to help you predict what it may look like in future.
When you share these numbers with your team, you’ll be able to create a strategy to increase this number with specific objectives.
This term means exactly what it sounds like. Your win and loss rate is affected by how many project quotes you proposed that you actually closed. This also goes into your monthly sales number.
If you want to improve this number, you can look at your sales funnel and see if people are getting stuck in a certain step. Does your pitch need to be adjusted? Do you need more time to explain a specific feature? Are you losing people in between calls?
All of this can help you optimize your sales funnel.
It’s important to not only track who your new leads are but also where they are coming from.
You’ll often see companies put a “where did you hear about us?” option on their website contact form. This is so they can track what aspect of their marketing has been most successful.
Your sales cycle refers to how long it takes for you to close a sale. Every company’s sales cycle looks different, so there is no one-size-fits-all model here. This is an area that you will frequently revisit and optimize as you test how well it performs.
One of the best ways to improve your sales cycle is to get survey feedback from your leads, especially from those who don’t book with you.
With this feedback, you’ll be able to make tweaks to your sales cycle so that you can provide more value the next time around and possibly close those previous leads in the future.
Closed opportunities help you easily see how much revenue you have generated for your company.
If you work based on a commission, this is a very crucial sales metric to keep an eye on. If you work for yourself, closed opportunities will still help you understand where your revenue and profit margins will be.
If you have too many open opportunities, meaning you have an influx of leads that you can’t manage, you’ll want to find a way to delegate these leads to someone else on your team or find another way to best accommodate these leads within your current schedule.
This gives you an idea of what your current to-do list looks like as a salesperson for your company. Think of it as a running list of the different things you need to do within the sales cycle. This could include demo calls, webinars, in-person workshops, or anything else that needs to be done.
Now that you have a better understanding of the sales metrics you’ll want to track inside your sales dashboard, let’s quickly go over a few dashboard tools that will help you get set up in just a few minutes.
There are so many options to choose from, so here is a comprehensive pros and cons list of the most popular options on the market.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.