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.

 

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.

Understanding Our Past: Support LIDAR Mapping at El Pilar

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, while I was attending University of California, Santa Barbara, I had the honor of working with Dr. Anabel Ford and her resilient crew on various projects surrounding the Maya site of El Pilar.   From archaeological excavation to mapping, to cutting trails, analyzing artifacts, and building predictive models, the time I spent on this project was phenomenal.

Recently posted on my Facebook page was a notification the Dr. Ford is undertaking a new project, mapping El Pilar with LIDAR to better understand Maya settlements beneath the thick rain forest canopy.  Please follow this link for more details.

Support the El Pilar LIDAR Mapping Project

They are currently seeking $2,700 in funding via Experiment.com, a crowdfunding platform for scientific research.  $2,700 is a bargain for the wealth of data and insight this team of researchers will acquire.  At 30% funded with 22 days left, let’s push it to 100% and beyond!

Cheers!

How a To Do List Alone Is Not Productive

Stress is at its highest when one is unprepared.  Managing tasks, putting out fires, and meeting deadlines is difficult without a proper task management solution.

Whether you use the latest smartphone app or just pen and paper, you probably have some form of reigning in all those tasks, big and small, you must get done. Each of these tasks is multi-dimensional in that each has a priority, an effort level, deadline, and could even be related to another task or appointment.   Managing these dimensions is the key to being proactive and productive.

The problem with the to do list, is just that, it is strictly a list.   Making a list of your to do items is critical, but it does not give you the ability to set priorities in a complete manner.  In fact, the longer the to do list, the more overwhelming and difficult to mange it will be.

The solution is pretty simple.  Of course you need a list of task items, but you need integrate both the priority and scheduling.  The easiest was to do this is to schedule them on your calendar just like you would schedule a meeting or doctor’s appointment.

Scheduling your tasks takes care of a few things in one shot:

  1. It automatically sets the priority relative to not only other tasks, but your appointments.
  2. It gives you a clear start time and end time to tackle the task.
  3. It allows you focus on the immediate tasks for the day without getting overwhelmed by seeing tasks for a week or month.
  4. It sets the amount of time you need and have available to complete the task.

Using your calendar, be it a Daily Planner or Outlook, to manage your tasks is a very efficient way to be productive.  By managing a list of tasks and taking the extra step of putting them on your calendar means you are serious about being proactive and productive.  Try it today!

An Example of the Quantified Self: Steps

Wearable trackers are all the latest rage!  From a FitBit to a Microsoft Band to old school pedometers, the latest health craze is about steps.   Whether you joined the office fitness challenge or just want to get moving a bit more, the concept of tracking steps is the most popular metric of the quantified self in 2015.   What a perfect metric to start a series of posts showing examples of the quantified self.  The objective is to show the wide variety of metrics an individual can use to make their life healthier, more productive, and happier.

Tracking Activity: Steps

The graphic below is my steps history as recorded using an app called Argus on my iPhone 5S.  The app is simple, turn it on, and it does the rest.  It records steps as you move through the motion sensor.  Of course, the drawback is, it only records steps if the phone is with you and on your body.  For example, if I was on an elliptical, the phone would have to be in my pocket to record the steps, placing it on the machine doesn’t work.

Creating a Custom Quantified Data Visualization

To create the dashboard below, I entered my step data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, added a few formulas for day of week and location and picked a data visualization platform. While I could have created a few charts from a pivot table in Excel, I decided to give Qlik Sense a test drive.  Qlik Sense is a lighter, consumer oriented version of the powerful Qlikview data discovery and reporting platform.  Qlik Sense is easy to use, just select your data source (Excel in my case), select your dimensions and measures and you are off to the races.

quantified self data visualization

Using Qlik Sense to visualize steps data from Argus

Raw Data: Steps by Day

The top graph shows raw steps by calendar date.  While there isn’t too much to see here at first glance, you can see clear dips in the pattern which maybe the weekend.  You can also see the data at the right tend to be a slightly higher than the data to the left side.

Steps by Day of Week

By adding a dimension called “DayName”, we can average steps by day of week.  In the orange chart to the right, the most active day is Monday, followed by Thursday and Sunday.  The lowest is Wednesday.  Fitness improvements come with consistency.  Being the difference between highest and lowest is fairly great, we can focus on being more active on Wednesday’s.  Tracking the change over time will help us be more consistent with our activity.

Steps by Geography

I also added a dimension called “location” by tagging each day with where I was.  I often split time between Washington state and Santa Barbara with days in between flying. The green chart to the left shows a pretty interesting pattern, I am far more active when in Washington state compared to Santa Barbara, This is probably due to the recreational abundance in Washington, such as the hiking trails around Mt. Baker and the walking we do while downtown.  Santa Barbara is also a much more isolated location by comparison.  Perhaps, if I want to be more active, I should stay in Washington state.

The Fundamental, Visual Flaw

You might be asking, what flaw is there is there in the above dashboard?  It is hard to see because it is not there. One of the best CEO’s I ever had the honor of working for said, “if it is important enough to put on a chart, you better damn well have a goal indicator with it.”  I agree.

Throughout this post, I mentioned goals such as covering 10,000 steps in a day, and increasing Wednesday activity.  The charts above should include an indication of these numbers.  The charts are essentially naked without the indicators and the user viewing them loses the context of the rest of the data.

Always include a goal indicator when creating data visuals, the context is essential.

Conclusion

This is one example of using data visualization to improve personal life.  Activity is one of the primary factors in achieving and maintaining good health.  Using a fitness tracker and visualization tool like Qlik Sense can be effective.  Just understand the privacy policy and how the wearable tech company may use your private data.

The Best Hobbies

An interesting quote from Dr. Vogel on Dexter caught my mind recently.  They were referring to murder as a hobby when Dr Vogel said:

“The best hobbies take us furthest from our primary occupation.” – Dr Vogel, Dexter

If hobbies are at the opposite of our 9-5 jobs, then what does this mean?  As an Analyst with Marketing and Sales expertise, I spend my day job working with data, creating visualizations, and helping stakeholders understand the health of their business.   I bring to life the power of KPIs and creating conversation about the business through data.  Fascinating patterns and changes in trends spark the best conversations.

It is the more computer based hobbies I spend time on.  From flight simulator (FSX and X-Plane) to triathlon analysis, I do spend more time on the computer than sleeping.  Lately, I have split my time between BootStrap, a web authoring platform from Twitter, and analyzing the 2013 Santa Barbara Triathlon race results.

As a hobby, though, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer at home.  In fact, if Dr. Vogel is right, the best hobbies for me would not involve a computer at all and would focus on the physical as opposed to the virtual.   Interests of mine include art (sketching and watercolor), photography, gardening, triathlon, writing and music.   Interestingly, none of these hobbies are very frequent in my life other than triathlon training.

So, what’s the point of all of this?  Balance.  Dr. Vogel’s comment illustrates the need for moderation and balance in our lives.  Spending too much time behind the computer is not healthy.  So is spending too much time at work.   The balance involves leaving the computer behind after hours, heading outside and experiencing a wider variety of activities in life.   Hobbies are a way of expressing ourselves while relieving stress and spending time with like minded people.   Get as far away from your day job when not in the office as possible!

Anti-Cloud Based Tools for Personal Intelligence

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.
  • Numbers
    • 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.