If you’re a sales director, you’ll already know how difficult it is to keep track of what your sales people are doing – and achieving. The very nature of the role means that most working hours are spent on the road, and sales reps are typically granted a high level of autonomy in recognition of their skills, value and results.

What sales leaders need

But as a people manager and business leader, you need accurate, timely information about what’s actually going on day-to-day across your sales team. There can be a temptation for sales people to use their persuasive skills against you and say one thing whilst doing another.

The value of Salesforce

Salesforce is a technology that puts you in control. The worlds number one CRM system comes with a wealth of in-depth, intuitive reporting functionalities that allow you to deep-dive into any part of the business and analyse the metrics that matter to you.

Real-time data

As an internal Salesforce user, you can access real-time data in the format that you want it in – creating customised reports and dashboards, accessing summaries or querying specifics for defined date ranges, sales people, clients and other variables.

Use the data to see past performance, current performance and predicted forward trends. This oversight is essential to driving forwards business success, allowing you to make proactive decisions about your sales team and their work, rather than reacting to events after they occur.

Regular reports also allow you to see trends and make strategic moves – capitalising on opportunities and mitigating threats before they occur.

As an example, you can drill down to see exactly which deals were lost, what the average time is to close a deal and whether that is increasing or decreasing, where competitors may be gaining ground on your sales people, and what degree of customer satisfaction is currently being experienced by your client base.

Additionally, your marketing team can use Salesforce to track the effectiveness of their campaigns and to measure ROI. To use these system capabilities fully, sales directors can use Salesforce to:

1. Gain Insight

Understand what is keeping your sales managers awake at night – and track metrics that are meaningful for the CEO, senior directors from across the business and other key stakeholders. This helps you to be a highly credible leader, with the information that you need to communicate across the business. Salesforce also makes it easier to link identified metrics with your company’s objectives and vision. Don’t forget to track the progress of your salespeople against their peers – they love competition!

2. Capture meaningful data

Remember that your dashboards and data are powered by the data you choose to collect. Consult with stakeholders where necessary and plan out your report needs, before configuring your Salesforce application with formulas and custom variables. Keep it simple though – research suggests that half of CEOs use up to 10 metrics on average to measure progress across the entire business. Another great tip from Salesforce itself is to have a clear naming approach for each report so that they are easy to find. Use meaningful labels and limit access and security levels.

3. Create reports

If you have an existing Access or Excel report, use this as your baseline. As you start to create your own reports and dashboards in Salesforce, you can begin with the ‘out of the box’ facility, which offers standard report templates as a basis against which you can customise your own.

4. Build your dashboards

Choose from bar charts to show grouped data, pie charts for proportional data and funnel charts for ordered lists, such as lead stage. Again, you’ll find pre-made and free dashboards which are available for you to customise. Use them to measure lead generation, sales productivity, sales pipeline progress, campaigns, support and service.

5. Use the data for decision making

Once you have your suite of tools in place, use them to drive the right communication and to make decisions based on data. Make sure too that your sales team are using Salesforce and realise that if it isn’t in the system, it won’t exist. This is a great habit changer and will encourage your executives to work out of the system. From this point, you have the tools that you need to manage your salespeople through meetings, conversations and the performance management process – rewarding where rewards are due, and refocusing where targets aren’t being met!

The average sales rep is known to be spending only 10% of their time actively selling, the majority of the other 90% is taken up by administration tasks and travelling. Find our how to improve this statistic with our time saving post.