Revisiting Triathlon Intelligence

triathlon intelligenceDuring my triathlon years, I was amazed with the impact data has on a training program.  GPS devices, wearables, and tracking apps seriously changed how triathletes viewed their training.   Rather than going by feel, triathletes could “see” their workouts with data visualizations.  Areas for improvement were quickly identified and brought to the front for full attention.

As technology continues to improve, our wearables get more complex and accurate, and triathlons become more competitive, we need a better way to digest our data. Very much as Tableau has created a better and more robust platform for visualizing and forecasting business data, this same functionality must come triathlon.

What is the real problem?  It is the same problem I tried to address with TrainingMetrix, combining all of a triathlete’s data into a single source to derive insights and forecast future workouts.  To this day, we still deal with separate databases and apps for our workouts and nutrition.  Companies like Garmin and MyFitnessPal have improved integration, bringing nutrition and workout data a tad closer. But, we are still missing the insights… the indicator of diet quality, the indication of over training, and the ability to see progress at the highest level.

This is where my dream of triathlon intelligence comes in.  Combining each data set not just for visualization, but combining the data set in a way which tells the future.  Perhaps I want the crystal ball of triathlon training…  nothing big.  lol

Where does this go from here?  It starts a new era in research and passion.  For myself re-entering triathlon training has renewed my search for the ultimate solution.  In future posts, we will explore some of the solutions on the market including what is good and what is bad.

Going Beyond the Box

Think outside the boxBoxes are great for containing things. Whether moving or just trying to clear the clutter, a box comes in very handy.  You might even choose a box with some character, scratched out handwritten labels, shipping stickers and ancient yellow packing tape.  Yes, the box is a great thing.

But a box can also describe the perspective we live in.  Along the lines of “stuck in a rut,” living inside the box is a familiar place.   The box is the universe we live in, not only the physical space of home, work, the grocery store and the coffee shop, but also the mental world, the thoughts, the emotions, and the perspectives on the world.  By this definition, the box can start to take on a different feeling.

The life you live is the sum of the decisions and actions you make.  These decisions have many different types of influences, be it from your friends or networking group or from the thoughts which pass through your mind.  While many of us are quite content with the box we’ve built for ourselves, others may not be.

Change is how your box changes shape, color, and even location.  “Think outside the box” is a phrase we often use to set loftier goals for ourselves.  In fact, personal growth happens most when we step outside the box we’ve come to love.  A life of learning, new places, and new people is a great way to keep your box changing forever.

Here are some ideas to go beyond your box:

  • Take an online course – many are free and cover a wide variety of topics.
  • Join a book club – Sure, Oprah comes to mind, but reading is a great way to expand your box, as is engaging in discussion.
  • Invite a peer out to lunch – Not only do you get to experience a new atmosphere, but you share the experience with someone and bond with them.
  • Learning a new language or instrument – Learning to speak German or how to play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano, the process of learning something new stimulates brain activity and makes you feel good.
  • Meditate – breathe, let your thoughts go, and relax.  Reflect on the thoughts which come up naturally and be prepared to write them down afterward so you can take action.
  • Take a vacation – it does not have to be an exotic place like Thailand, but a change of scenery is enough to get you thinking differently and open your horizons
  • Take a different route home from work – this is one tip I love and practice daily. You never drive home the same route day after day.  This opened me up to new routes and I found some places to visit at the same time.

While the box is a really cool thing, it is okay to think about life outside the box.

A Decade of Learning

For a bit more than the last decade, my career has focused on data and data visualization within sales, marketing and finance.   From understanding data architecture and database design to deploying insightful and effective reports to teams across the organization, I have come to appreciate the profound role data plays in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

Understanding how to use data and integrating it into one’s daily routine is a challenge for many.  As I reflect back on my career and the challenges for sales reps and analysts ahead, I chose to shift gears and focus on sharing my experiences with a greater audience.

Saalun - Sales Analytics University for Reps and AnalystsWith the purpose of sharing my skills, I created Saalun.  Saalun is short for Sales Analytics University.  The subscription based service is geared toward sales reps and analysts.  While sales leadership can also benefit, the product is to help reps get the training they need without relying upon corporate leadership to provide it.

While we are just launching an early preview, we will open the doors in Q4’17 with content, newsletters, webinars and podcasts.  Head over to our site and signup for notifications, early previews, and the latest news on this exciting project.

3 Parts to a Sales Compensation Program

Sales Compensation is not easy.  Throughout my career, I have seen plans which break the sales budget to plans which do are insulting to the rep as they pay too little for a lot of work.  I refer to sales compensation programs as a form of art which requires a bit of science.

3 Parts of Sales Compensation Program

Science is pretty easy as it is understanding how your team should be selling your product and how it translates to the pipeline and corporate goals.  This understanding translates to key performance indicators (KPIs) which one can use to monitor rep performance and team performance.

The art plays in as you develop the actual plan and which KPIs enter that plan.  Average Deal Size, Number of Meetings, or Conference Attendees may not necessarily be the best indicators of sales.  With a mix straight sales revenue compensation (say 2%) and additional kickers and bonuses, the art of using plan structure for influencing rep behavior can take trial and error to get right.

Finally, the best compensation programs leverage transparency, reporting, and recognition. This is plan implementation where making sure the rep understands their KPI progress and how it translates to their paycheck.  Regular reporting and team leaderboard distribution are essential, motivating and drive revenue. A proactive analytics program can ease the calculation and payout of compensation at the end of the quarter.

As a specialist in the field, I encourage you to follow Spiral Analytics, my consulting firm dedicated to sales team optimization and small business promotion.  Follow us on Facebook

 

 

 

5 Things an Analytics Leader Must Do To Make Analysts Happy

bizanalystAnalysts are the lifeblood of a successful, data-driven company.  The analysts within your organization are usually the first to figure out if the company is on track or off track of the goals.  Their happiness can lead to early warnings and quick action to avoid pitfalls.  Their happiness can also help drive innovation and much needed change.

It is essential to keep your analysts happy.  Whether they are part of a corporate insights team, or are a line of business analyst with sales or marketing, there a few things a leader can do to help make them happy.

Trust & Enable, Don’t Dictate – The best leaders lead through influence and enablement, not micro management and total control.   Trust is one of the most important virtues of a team and is a true symbol of teamwork.  When a leader can let things go and let the judgment, experience, and knowledge of their analysts work, phenomenal things happen.

Celebrate Wins, big and small – Analysts have complex and very important roles in every organization. Analysts work hard, very often in sprints at quarter end and quarter begin. For this reason, take the time to help your analysts celebrate.  From cupcakes and beverages in a conference room, to an off-site cart race, let your analysts cut-loose and have fun.

Give Credit – Nothing makes an analyst more upset than another analyst or person taking credit for their work.  Just like recognition helps drive the morale of a sales rep, giving credit to your analyst when and where it counts is a simple act with profound effect.

Freestyle Project Time – Work hard, play hard.  Let your analysts take a few hours each week to work on something they want to related to work.  Whether they want to work on a new data model, an insights project, or attend an online, self service class, give them the time to do something they feel is important to their role.  A few hours each week to work on a project of their choosing enhances creativity and innovation.

Establish a Vision, But Seek Input – As all leaders are responsible for establishing a vision and trajectory for the team, this vision must be based on input from the team.  Allow the team to develop their own mission statement, their own framework, and be the guide to steer them toward corporate goals.   A vision developed by team input is unstoppable.

As an analytical leader, you have a responsibility to keep your analysts happy.  Happy analysts are key to driving data driven change in any organization.   Allow them to flourish, be creative, innovate and share their passion with the organization.

But wait, a sixth BONUS tip

Conference Budget – Allow your analysts to attend one or two conferences of their choosing every year.  Conferences are not only learning opportunities, but also incredible networking opportunities.  An analyst meeting another analyst is like a match made in heaven.  Let your analysts out of the office and share knowledge as much as possible.

The Math Every Sales Must Do

As a sales rep you need to deliver closed won deals to meet your quota.  As with all journeys to a goal, there is a hard, rough road and a superhighway, fast and smooth as a baby’s butt.  To earn your commission the most efficient way possible, wouldn’t you want to be on the superhighway? Of course!

The Math Every Sales Rep Must Do

Let me show you how to do some math to start you down your sales superhighway.  The key is to leverage data as much as possible along your journey.  To get started, you’ll need a few data points.  If you don’t have historical trends to use, an estimation is fine.  In fact, you might want to do the math a few times using different number so you understand the impact each variable might have.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Quota
  • Average Deal Size
  • Sales Cycle
    • Ideally, Lead Create to Opp Close, but Opp Create to Opp Close can work for expansion reps
  • Win Rate / Close Ratio
    • Both Count of Opps and Value of Opps
  • Lead to Opp Conversion Rate

We will use these metrics and KPIs to calculate a few additional data points.  The first is translate our quota numbers to the number of deals we’ll need to close.  The second is to understand what size pipeline we’ll need to target to hit our number.  Finally, we’ll calculate how many quarters we need to project out and how much pipeline we need.

  1. The Deal Count

The first calculation is quite simple and uses quota and average deal size.  Simply divide the quota for the period by the average deal size and it will tell you how many deals you need to hit your number.  As a best practice, add 1 to the number you get:

(Quota for period / Average Deal Size ) + 1 = number of deals you need to hit your quota

Write these numbers down in a book or journal so you can refer back to them.  You may also want to use an Excel spreadsheet and keep track of the number of deals you need and which accounts will give you those deals.

2. What Size Pipeline Do I Need?

Once we know how many deals we need, we also need to know what size pipeline we need to close those deals.  This is where win rate (also known as Close Ratio) comes in.  You should have two win rate numbers, one based on  COUNT of opportunities and another based on DOLLAR VALUE of opportunities.

Depending on which you want to calculate, use the appropriate set for count of deals and quota.  The math is:

Count of Pipeline Size:  number of deals needed to hit quota +1  / win rate of count

Dollar value of pipeline needed:  quota for period +  Avg Deal Size / win rate of dollar value

Again, write these number down.  This is the size of the pipeline you will need to build to make sure you hit the quota number based on your historical win rate.

3. How Far Do You Plan Ahead?

You may be wondering why we haven’t used Sales Cycle yet.  While we aren’t going to use it in a calculation, we will use to see how far ahead we need to be planning. to hit our number.

Sales cycle can be calculated  a number of ways so be careful and understand what the number you have means.  For instance, many clients I have worked with in the past have used a sales cycle which measures Opportunity close age, i.e. Opp Close Date minus Opp Create Date. This is misleading if your business includes prospecting.  A true sales cycle uses either Lead/Contact create date or Account First Activity Date.    Make sure the number you are using a sales cycle which represents the true time frame you need to work your leads/contacts and close your opportunities.

quota period in days / sales cycle in days

If your sales cycle is 45 days, planning one quarter ahead is sufficient.  But if your sales cycle is 105 days, you must plan two quarters ahead.

It’s a Wrap

With these three pieces of math in mind, you are well on your to establishing the foundation for your superhighway to 100%.  Understanding what it takes to hit your quota number, how long and planning far enough ahead is huge and gives you a head start against your peers.  You may be amazed at how many reps don’t DO THE MATH.

 

Welcome 2017! My Three Focus Words

2016 is history.  Not the best year, not the worst year.  It was a year of change, strong opinions and shock.  From mass shootings to celebrity deaths to the election of Trump, it was a year we will all be talking about and trying to understand for decades to come.

It was also the year that I established myself in the Pacific Northwest.  It was the year I became a two car owner, a year in which I established my style and a year in which I learned about myself.  While I do not have a lot to brag about in terms of accomplishments, I can say I rode the tide, survived the year, and learned what is important to me.

As I look back on 2016 and dream about 2017 will bring me, I am filled with a bit of anxiety, hope, and inspiration.  Like a blank page in an artist’s sketchbook, the new year is a blank slate waiting to be filled with memories, transactions, people, ideas, and dreams.  It is more inspiring than anything.

Back in 2006, Chris Brogan began publishing 3 words to represent and guide him throughout the year.  This tradition is ten years old in 2016.  The idea, as described by Mr. Brogan:

Pick any three words that will guide you in the choices you intend to make for 2016. They should be words that let you challenge yourself as to motives and decisions. They should be words that help you guide your actions.-Chris Brogan

So, without further ado, here are my three words:  Connect, Learn, Build

Connect – connect is about connecting with the community around me, the people, the places, the events, and the technology.  Throughout 2017, I will be looking for opportunities to connect with everything around me.

Learn – While we are required to spend roughly 18 years in school before we are ready to participate in the world, the truth is life is one big school and you should never stop learning.  I am eleven years into a career in Analytics and I realize how fast technology changes.  I need to stay current on the tools.  I also want to set the foundation for grad school, so I have some studying to do for the GRE.

Build – This word has a few meanings to me.  First, I want to spend more time doing things with my hands, away from computer and not reliant upon technology.  From a hydroponics system to arts and crafts, I want to build. Second, build represents establishing a foundation for the latter half of my life.  I see myself undergoing a lot of personal change and 2017 is the year the foundation is built for that change.

What are you three words?  What’s your focus on 2017?