With each new year, comes new habits and routines. Personally, I try to make a legitimate resolution every year. In previous years, I’ve focused on running and goals around my exercise routine. This year, I resolved to keep on top of my inbox and shoot for a year of “inbox zero” (so far so good).
Right around the same time I was making my inbox zero resolution, we at InsightSquared released a major new feature in our product: scheduled email sales reports.
This created a huge conflict for me!
I love information and metrics about our business. I want that information to get pushed out to me and into my inbox to make sure I see it every day. But I didn’t want to sabotage my New Year’s resolution right off the bat with a flood of emails in my inbox every morning.
Despite my overwhelming enthusiasm for insight on our business, this forced me to keep a lid on how many reports I send to myself. So far (and the year is still young), I’ve kept it at three reports. I’d like to outline for you the three reports I love to get right now from InsightSquared, in my inbox. Now keep in mind, I come at this from the perspective of a committed member of the InsightSquared team, but I’m not actually in Sales or Marketing. I’m a product manager who works primarily on building our software. So these favorites come from the perspective of someone who needs to listen to our customers, understands what our prospective customers want and has a big stake and interest in the success of the company. Yet I’m not primarily responsible for executing sales. My interest in tactical execution reporting is reduced relative to the typical sales leader.
Without further adieu, here are my three must-have sales reports that I receive in my inbox every morning.
I’ve been receiving this report in my inbox one way or another for close to three years, through two different companies. If I had to choose just one report, this would be it.
Why? It provides both a review of our performance this month-to-date and allows me to make a forward looking, quick forecast for the rest of the month. And it answers the most burning questions about the business. How much have we booked so far? Have we closed anything this month?
Of course it gives those basic numbers, but the power of this report comes when you compare your company’s performance this month relative to previous months. Is what we’ve done good relative to our past performance? Is it better? Worse? If it is day 5 of the month, are we doing better or worse than we typically do on day 5? In a single graph, it not only delivers you an absolute assessment on your company’s performance this month but also a relative assessment compared to previous months.
Furthermore, the day-by-day graphing style of this chart (relative to other, completed months) gives you a chance to project your company’s performance out through the rest of the month. You can make a rough forecast (in the absence of complex calculations) by eyeballing your bookings so far this month and the chart’s trajectory. Is the chart below the typical month? Above? What does the slope of the line look like? Is it accelerating upwards or staying flat?
When I “eyeball” this chart, these are the kinds of assessments my mind is automatically making without explicit thought and I can project a performance for our company each month based on quantitative assessments of past performance without high levels of effort building a complex forecast.
One chart delivers to me many important pieces of information about the health of our sales performance.
The next piece of the puzzle is insight on the nature of our pipeline. I get this report in order to help me understand the distribution of our pipeline. Is the pipeline full or empty for the month? Are the deal sizes in our pipeline increasing? Or do we have lots of small deals in our pipeline? Do we have a healthy batch of deals spread out through the month or is it batched at the end of the month?
The Bookings Trend report above gives me a chance to extrapolate our month-end performance by using past performance as a guideline. Then, the Pipeline Today report helps me to validate that extrapolation by understanding the state of the pipeline we’ll be using to execute and the nature of the customers we are engaging in demonstrations and trials.
Beyond helping to validate my assessment of our future performance, this report helps me to gauge the type of customers we’re seeing in the pipeline. As a product manager, I want to know what types of customers are interested in our product. By seeing the picture of the pipeline, I can understand who we are talking to in the market and create a mental model of those customers for when I actually sit down and talk to the folks who have run the gauntlet and become customers.
The last report I’ve been sending myself is our Opportunity Changes report. This report highlights the opportunities in our pipeline that have changed over the last 24 hours. Which Opps changed their close date? Which changed their amount? Which closed?
To be honest, this report doesn’t help me necessarily do my job better as a product manager. It is more of a sales management report, by design. But I like it because it helps me understand the ups and downs of a sales rep, on a daily basis. I’ve held lots of roles in the software business, but never in sales. By seeing the good, the bad and ugly of what is happening in our sales team, I can better empathize and understand their challenges in making their number every month. I’m a better co-worker.
The Opportunity Change report continues a narrative every morning when it hits my inbox. Each morning installment tells a new chapter in the story of our sales team, and I am beginning to understand the sometimes mysterious animal that is the sales rep.
What do you receive in your inbox? What are your must-have reports?