The Best Sales Reports Answer Key Questions – The 7 Levels of Reports

Begin with the end in mind.  How many times have we heard that?

Since I have been busy updating our reporting model for XANT and tying it to our new 7 Tier Consulting Model I have thought deeply and discussed reporting with many of our team and our customers.  The question is “which reports are really needed for the sales and marketing teams?”

In our industry you can do one of about four things to design reports:

  1. Think about the logical categories in your software; like Leads, Accounts, Deals, Cases, etc.
  2. Copy what everyone else is doing.
  3. Respond to what your customers ask for.
  4. Ask what questions your customers are needing answers to.

Which method would you choose?

If you Think about the categories in your software and write reports that work with each category you tend to focus on the product and the features of your product.

If you Copy what everyone else is doing you only do as well as as their best thinking and research and the entire industry seems to get tunnel vision.  (We shy away from this because we learned a long time ago to Zig when everyone else Zags.)

If you Respond to what your customers ask for you tend to go by the prevailing wisdom.  This may be a safe bet.  But what is the result if your customers are typically looking to you for best practices?  If you respond to them when they are really looking to you, this produces a circular loop of mediocrity.  In highly developed industries (of which we are not), the customer is much more educated on what they want and this works much better.

We have tried all of these methods… and each one has proven to miss the mark.

It is best to ask the customer the questions they are trying to solve, design a report that clearly answers as many of those questions as possible in one simple place.

What customers are really needing is answers to their questions:

1- Which lead source actually closes the most revenue?
2- Which campaign is converting the most leads?
3- Which sales reps is most/least effective?
4- Are my leads getting contacted?
5- Why don’t my sales close?
6- Why do my sales close?
7- Do my leads trend up?
8- Do I make money?

What are your key questions?

After careful analysis and lots of thought I have come to the conclusion that there are about 7 levels of reporting structure and value.  This model is quickly becoming part of our new book and more important the consulting model that will follow thereafter.

Level 1- Metrics: This is a simple number.  7 calls.

Level 2- Rates: This is a simple number over time.  7 calls in an hour.  This is the only way to actually compare people over time and especially helpful in comparing full time to part time reps where they work differing hours in a day.

Level 3- Ratios: This is a Rate over a Rate, like Contacts over Dials during the same period of time is a Contact Ratio.

Level 4- Trends: This is a Rate or Ratio over time.  Like Dials per hour for each day in a month, or revenue per week for each week in a quarter.

Level  5- Dispositions/Surveys: This is the only report that answers the key question of ‘Why?’ something happens.  If you follow up with every prospect that does not close and ask why they don’t, you will gain invaluable data to help you change your offering, approach, price, term, etc., based on their combined answers.

Level 6- ROI (Return on Investment): This is the number that owners and management really want.  This is cost compared to revenue.  Each dollar in buys how many dollars out?  This is most valuable for leads, sales people, offers, and marketing content because it focusses on what is most effective.  This report is very hard to get in real time when their is still time to make a difference.

Level 7-  Console/Dashboard: These are Rates, Ratios, Trends, Dispositions, or ROI in real time; while you can still do something about them.

Best Practices:

1- Strong companies invest in Level 3 reports or higher.
2- Managers or Executives think the holy grail are Trends and ROI reports in real time consoles or dashboards so they can do their jobs better and gain visibility over what their people are doing.  Wise companies give these consoles and real time dashboards to the front line sales rep so they can actually make changes during their day.

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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