Vary Reports to Unearth Trends (Part 2)

Last month I answered a question from a manager who found reviewing the same sales reports over and over again boring, and who thought the salespeople felt the same way. I agreed that reports can feel monotonous sometimes, and suggested that the manager introduce a few new and interesting ones. My suggestions focused on product and industry reporting. This month I would like to focus on time and territory management.

Quality sales reports capture events that take place over a period of time and use the data to tell a story. That's why it's critical to switch the information around and tell the story from a different perspective now and again.

Closed Sales

Using a closed sales report from the previous year, divide those companies who purchased a product or service from your organization into 4 groups: referrals, leads, repeat business and prospecting (or whatever categories apply at your company). If salespeople are expected to close between 3 and 5 sales per month, the report for a year might look something like this:

RepReferralsLeadsRepeat BusinessProspectingTotal
Rep A20129748
Rep B54131436
Rep C18634260

As a manager, you might not have a problem with any of the results, given the various reps' territories and strengths. On the other hand, you might have some questions or concerns. Is Rep B asking enough of his current accounts for referrals? If several of Rep C's accounts stop doing business with her for any reason, will she be able to make up the difference through prospecting? Does Rep A have a strong enough relationship with his current accounts? 

The same report can be run using lost sales instead of closed sales. Discovering which category accounts for the most lost sales should make for an interesting discussion.

Territory Coverage 

Theoretically, salespeople should spend 80% of their time on the accounts that bring in 80% of their business. Is that true in your organization? How does such a thing get measured? Find out which accounts bring in the majority of the sales revenue in a reps' territory. Next, run a report showing how many in-person visits, phone calls or CRM notes appear for a given month or quarter.

J. Jones Q1% of BusinessSales CallsCRM NotesPhone Calls
Account A36386
Account B2911521
Account C1521013

Joe Jones sees Account A once a month and Account C every 6 weeks. A CRM report indicates that some type of notation is made every other week on average for Account C. Account C (15% of business) receives more phone calls than Account A (36% of business). Interestingly, Account B (29% of business) was seen only once during the quarter but received more phone calls than Accounts A and C combined. 

Account B may have told Joe Jones not to call more than once a quarter. They might prefer frequent phone contact instead. Account A may feel that Joe Jones visits often enough and calls an appropriate number of times. Account C may be having a customer service issue and wishes Joe Jones would come to see them in person to try and solve the problem rather than always calling. As a manager, you really can't be sure until the data is in front of both you and the rep, and a dialogue takes place. 

These "out of the box" reports need to be read with a totally open mind. The information contained within them can alert sales reps and managers alike to troublesome problems or patterns. The reports can shake people out of their doldrums. We all get into ruts. The idea is to discuss the findings with the sales representative and use the reports as a reference point for praise (if called for) or improvement (if necessary). When reports promote a lot of discussion, boredom goes by the wayside and insights result.