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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
The 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.
Creating a personal intelligence platform for self tracking has never been easier. While technology continues to push us toward the “cloud” and SaaS as a strategy of revenue generation, we cannot overlook the tried and true platforms available to keep data on your computer and away from prying eyes of Analysts.
As a data visualization and KPI development guru, I love finding those interesting trends in my own life that drive smarter, better habits. If you are like me, you don’t feel comfortable sharing your dirty underwear with Mark Zuckerberg and you really wonder what Google is doing with all of that data they keep acquiring. By maintaining a self database on my desktop computer which I can add to and tweak at a whim, I am able to give myself peace of mind and control over MY data. Curious, about what KPI’s I track? Stay tuned, that is a topic of another post.
Without further ado, here are some tools that you can use to create your own personal intelligence platform on your local computer:
- Microsoft Excel
- A stunningly powerful tool to use for even the novice user. Create your own tables, link them how you want and design your own graphs and dashboards at your own pace and complexity. Available for both Windows and Mac.
- A Mac only platform designed to compete directly Microsoft Excel which offers much the same functionality, but lacks some advanced capability compared with Excel. The simplicity and robust visual que are 2nd to none, but as the data set grows, you may be wishing you chose Excel in the beginning.
- Qlikview Free
- I have been a fan of Qlikview for years. I love the ability to create charts and dashboards from Excel spreadsheets and the gnarly level of interactivity that it provides. The learning curve isn’t as steep as one might think and well worth a few minutes reading their documentation. The limitation here is the limited number of shared files you can open. Windows only.
- MySQL / Apache / PHP / HTML5 / HighCharts
- Ok, if you are going with this option, you are a true geek with coding ability. This isn’t for the lighthearted as configuring MySQL, Apache, etc etc will take time. But the advantage is you are left with an enterprise class database and a truly blank slate in regards to dashboards. You can even create your own forms in HTML to add data. Mac/Linux/Windows
- Microsoft Access
- If you need something in between Excel and MySQL to store data, Access is a great option and can interface with Excel graphs and dashboards. With a mild learning curve, the ability to store any kind of data, and the convenience of a query builder UI, Access makes for a very robust solution. But, it lacks more advanced visualization, so be prepared to connect Excel to Access. Windows only and available with Office Professional.
As you can see, creating a Personal Intelligence platform off the cloud is possible. You can take full control of your data and keep it private at the same time. As data becomes more and more of a commodity and SaaS business models continue to nickel and dime everything, home based data management will be more and more appealing. Excel is the perfect anti-cloud.
I run a startup called TrainingMetrix, a company dedicated to bringing accessible analytics to fitness users around the world.
With a beta release of our first online product for triathletes, we needed to start a marketing campaign or two to draw in traffic beyond the inner circle of developers and “friend” based beta testers. We aren’t fans of Facebook, so using a Facebook Ad campaign was not an option.
Google Adwords was a suggestion from a friend of mine. As it turns out, Adwords is a great platform to get started on. You can set a budget, big or small, you can run one or many campaigns for as long as you want and the text “adwords” means you don’t have to have a graphic artist and fancy banner ads to attract customers. For us, the control, flexibility, and simplistic nature was why we chose Adwords for our first marketing platform.
So, we signed up with Google Adwords and started experimenting. We had two goals for this project:
- Test the waters with different keywords, messaging, and landing page styles to understand trigger words
- How effective Adwords are in terms of cost
We setup four different campaigns, each with two separate Ads and sat back. Before too long, we were getting plenty of traffic to the site. We let the campaigns run for one week and then ran a report. The results were fascinating to us and exactly what we were looking for. Our first goal was met.
As for our second goal, the cost of Adwords was within our budget, but the overall cost per acquisition (CPA) was quite high, higher than we expected. If we had Lifetime Value data to compare against, we could make a smart decision as to whether or not to continue on. Since we are in the beta phase and not collecting revenue, the overall costs of the campaigns were acceptable, on budget and appropriate for the knowledge that we gained.
If you have a startup, please consider using Adwords as a jumping off platform for marketing. Leverage the simplicity, the control and the knowledge that you can get from it.
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a vital tool for an organization seeking grow smart profits, expand customer loyalty, and build a scalable workforce. While many companies stick a chronological set of numbers on a chart to project it on a wall in front of stakeholders, the reality is what they are seeing may not be a true KPI. Its just a number unless its special.
To be special, the number needs to have most of the following characteristics in common:
- Represents a hierarchy either by time, or by dimension
- Example: Sales broken by Year, Quarter, Month, Week or even day, then sliced by Sales Region
- Directly actionable with each stakeholder holding a piece of the action.
- Example: Sales are down 15% from goal, Sales Managers, Marketing Coordinators, etc can all speak to how their actions influenced the number
- Has common definition across departments throughout the company
- Example: A sale is an action by a user from a variety of channels and promotions that resulted in payment and excludes affiliates for instance. This definition is signed off by Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, and Product.
- Does not include hidden meaning and/or does not hide a trend
- Example: A number compared year over year, month over month completely ignores a trend that can be alarming. While sales could be up year over year, this metric could hide a sudden drop in sales from the beginning of the year.
- When displayed with other metrics on a dashboard, the number represents a part of the story and does not represent a conflict to other metrics.
- Example: A number is where a chart shows Sales sky-rocketing, but another chart shows New Revenue way down, and yet another charts show Average Deal Size (ADS) flat. The three charts give conflicting information, so one or more can’t be a true KPI for this business. In fact, in this case, Sales is the corrupted KPI as it does not conform to a standardized definition.
- Supporting data is transparent
- Example: Analysts should be able to review aggregate data that rolls up to the KPI for audit reasons. It provides transparency and allows for drill down capabilities. Often the Analysts receive direct support from a data team are sourced from data sources throughout the business.
- The number evolves with the business
- Example: A number is just a number unless it can change readily with the business. A team supports the KPI, new data is added when created, and definitions evolve as the understanding of the business evolves.
- A goal can easily be set and tracked from the number
- Example: If the number is fully understood, a goal can be set and tracked against. If you can’t answer, “Where do we need to be by the end of the Year?”, then its a number, not a KPI.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen numbers and I’ve seen KPI’s. The most successful companies I worked with not only have a data team to support their KPIs, but they engage in regular discussions of the KPIs at all levels of the business. Successful, scalable, and profitable businesses are the ones using special numbers at their core.
When was the last time you saw a number masquerading as a KPI?