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.

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.

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.

My Views on the 2016 Presidential Election

My disclaimer:  I am not normally vocal about my political views.  Politics are best left for the debate table and not for work or other sensitive environments.  But, my feelings and observations regarding the 2016 Presidential election are so strong, this blog post is a fair expression and my right of Freedom of Speech.

The results of the 2016 Presidential election were none other than shocking.  For so long, the media hyped Trump as unfit for the office of President and fed us poll after poll of Hilary Rodham Clinton’s (HRC) lead.  In the late hours of November 8th, it was clear that Donald Trump was to be our 45th President.  As floored, shocked, saddened, and scared as my reaction was, reviewing the results over the past few days have begun to change my opinion.

What worries me most about the events of the last few days is how disrespectful people have been.   I received a number of harsh responses to my tweets on Twitter regarding my shock and disdain for the “The Don.”  These people were quick to judge me as a wrong for my point of view in a very disrespectful manner.  While I knew the conversation wasn’t going to civil, nor productive, I simply asked them to respectfully disagree and show some respect for a fellow human and American.  Once we lose our respect for each other, we lose America. Politicians may have lost respect for each other, but citizens are better than them and we can lead be example.  Always be respectful.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Was the media biased against Trump and trying to sway the public toward HRC?
  • America didn’t vote for Trump as much as we rejected HRC
  • Those who did vote for Trump, did so with a short-sighted view of the world
  • Voter turnout was at an all time low
  • The DNC was oblivious to the changed voter sentiment and still stood by HRC as their candidate, offending the ever important Sanders voters (myself included)
  • Clinton was so arrogant about her quest to be POTUS, she lost site of reality
  • Bernie Sanders would have been a better candidate, but was forced out by Clinton
  • The political establishment needs a shakeup, Trump might actually be good for this country
  • Clinton received the majority vote of the population, but the electoral college went to Trump; let’s rethink “democracy” in America
  • America is bitter and divided, but we must find a way to respect each other.
  • Protests and riots did follow the election of Obama eight years ago, calling out protests against Trump as unfair is unfair in itself.
  • On Dec 19th, the Electoral College could still sway to Clinton

While I will never go out of my way to support Donald Trump, I do respect the Office of the President of the United States (POTUS).   I think we do owe him a chance to lead this country and begin a process of unification.  I am scared to death of what could happen if Trump is really tied to Putin’s Russia.  On the other hand, Trumps presence as POTUS could be the shake up this country needs to rebuild its middle class and set America back on a course of innovation, prosperity, and best practice.

If he does not lead with compassion for all Americans, continues to berate fellow citizens and world leaders, and shows disrespect to the office of POTUS, I will be one of the first to sign a petition to start impeachment proceedings.   Let keep an open mind in the interim.

Top 5 Best Practices for Rolling Out Sales Rep Scorecards

Sales rep scorecards are that golden unicorn of any sales organization.  The scorecard is a compilation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are measured against thresholds.  In a rep scorecard, we see a visual interpretation of how a rep is doing for each of the KPIs. An example of which is below:

A Simple Sales Rep Scorecard with three KPIs

Sample Sales Rep Scorecard

Before I dive into best practices, a word on why not a lot of sales organizations have scorecards.  The primary reason is due to organizations struggling with data which best represents the business which makes it difficult for them to setup a KPI, let alone establish effective targets.   An understanding of the analytics continuum is also helpful for understanding the evolution of data practices which need to met prior to rolling out KPIs and Scorecards:

The Analytics Continuum: a blueprint for adoption

Top 5 Best Practices for Sales Rep Scorecards

  • Sales reps, Mangers, VPs, and CROs must all have agreement on the KPI definition, targets, and thresholds.  If one level of the KPI hierarchy is not on the same page as the others, there is very value in using the Scorecard to represent an ideal.
  • Targets and thresholds must be reasonable.  When rolling out KPIs, we often realize that actual performance is far from the corporate ideal. For instance, a Sales Cycle of 45 days is thought to be ideal, but the rep actual is north of 60 days.  Don’t hold this against them, consider rolling out a target of 55 and stepping the target down to 45 days within three quarters of launch.  Be kind to the reps and allow them to catch up.
  • Scorecards must be part of a larger sales communication strategy.  Rolling out a scorecard alone will have an impact on the organization, but the most impressive will happen if scorecards are a part of the larger communication strategy.  For instance, a weekly email can call out wins by reps, it should call out performance, and it needs to call out what needs to be done to hit the goal.  Scorecards are just one piece of the story in sales.
  • Scorecards need to be updated as the business evolves.  Scorecards can never be truly static, recurring reports.  Part of the role of your analytical team is maintain reports as the business changes and evolves.  Scorecards are no different.  From a subtle change of keeping thresholds and targets up to date, to swapping out KPIs for new ones, scorecards are a living animal and requires food to stay alive.
  •  Scorecards are a coaching opportunity, not a punishment tool.  While HR and managers will look at a scorecard and see a rep with all red for their KPIs, this doesn’t mean the rep needs to immediately be put on a performance improvement plan or, worse yet, fired.  Scorecards are coaching tool and enable the manager to work with the sales rep and ask questions like “why do you think your sales cycle is double the average?”  Work with the rep, train the rep, and allow the rep the chance to go for green.

As your team rolls out scorecards across the sales organization, keep these best practices in mind.  Be kind to your reps, get agreement on definition, use scorecards as part of a larger strategy, keep them updated, and use them as a coaching tool.

Triathlon Intelligence: A Calendar View Template For Triathletes

For the past few years, I have been not only training for triathlon, but also talking to fellow triathletes about triathlon performance.  The concept of triathlon intelligence is alive and well in the minds of anyone looking to improve their triathlon finish times.  Not finding much excitement with the training and workout logs on the market, I created TrainingMetrix  (out of business – Oct-2015)to explore the intersection between data and triathlon, as well as data and fitness in general. From usability and access to data to creating KPIs for workouts and nutrition, TrainingMetrix took an open exploration of this often overlooked intersection.

Our latest template, based on feedback from our users, is a modification of our free Triathlon Foundation Template and adds the ability to view both workouts and training plan in a calendar view.  Now, you can see your workouts compared against your plan! This is in addition to the powerful performance dashboard already a part of the free template.  The new Calendar View Template also allows you to build your own training plan.

calendar view triathlon workout and training log

Track progess, merge your plan and workouts into a calendar view, and create/modify your own training plan, the Calendar View Template is a powerful for triathletes

I am excited to show off this latest template.  We are combining a number of KPIs for triathletes into an easy to use template which resides locally on your computer, so your data is private and protected.  Being based in Excel, the template provides a foundation for you to customize and create your own charts and data views.  The power of workout progress and trends come alive.  The ability to create and modify your training plan is another powerful tool.  Lastly, the comparison of training plan to actual workouts is the intelligence the triathlete needs to stay on track, plan ahead and adjust as necessary.  For more information, please visit the Calendar View Template website.

What’s next for TrainingMetrix and I?  A lot, stay tuned, we are just getting started with understanding this intersection, data and triathlon.

Update 10/15 – TrainingMetrix was shut down in October 2015 due to increasing costs and lack of an effective business model.

A Sample Corporate Sales Dashboard

Monitoring your Sales team performance is very important for the growth of your company whether it is an infant startup or a tenured enterprise.  If your company is using a CRM solution, such as Salesforce.com or SugarCRM, you already have a wealth of data to leverage.  The trick is to get the right level of actionable data in front of the stakeholders who need it to make a decision.

A Sample Sales Team Dashboard

The dashboard’s purpose below is to communicate the health of a sales team for a company based in Canada.  The stakeholder required a view of sales by region and product category.  In addition, they wanted visibility into product returns and profitability. We used Tableau Public to create the dashboard below with a Canada Superstore data set available for free.  So let’s dive into the dashboard and some of the insights it gives us.

Sales Team Performance

sample sales dashboard using TableauThe first three charts on the dashboard illustrate which regions and product categories are driving the most gross revenue.   The first heat map shows Product Category against Region with the darker green color indicating more revenue.  The conclusion is the West drives the most revenue of the regions, with Nunavut bringing up the rear.  However, technology sales are highest in the West, whereas other regions have a more equal distribution.

The second heat map shows Customer Segment against Product Category.  Corporate customers tend to drive the most revenue, with technology and furniture being the highest revenue generator.  The lowest generator is Consumer Office Supplies.

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