What to do when no one wants to use your self service data stack?!? You turn to AI.
It is time for a quick update on my 2018. I have been pretty lax about posting here as most of my content is being posted on my Patreon profile. For just $5.00 per month you can get access to all of my content. Content includes articles, podcasts, and videos on business, analytics, productivity, wellness, and creativity. The focus is providing inspiration and knowledge to enhance your own experience. So head over to my profile and sign up. Just don’t watch my horrible intro video. lol
Onward to the good stuff!
Aric’s Q1 2018 Update
Are you tired of LinkedIn? Has LinkedIn gotten a bit personal? Tired or recruiters harassing you who have never looked at your profile? Luckily, there is a cure. It is an app called Shapr. Think of it as the Tinder app for professionals and networking. You signup easily and then you tell it up to 10 skills and give it your location. It matches you to professionals with similar skills and interests. You can then chat, meet for coffee/lunch or even just have a video call.
For me, it has been phenomenal in networking with fellow analytics gurus in my area. I have already met with a half dozen and have developed a broader network for clients and employment opportunities. It is great. By comparison, LinkedIn is embarrassingly bloated. lol
The Creative World
Early in my career, I cared a lot about gadgets, tech, and having cool stuff. After a few moves and having to deal with all that stuff, I have decided to significantly downsize. No more stuff for the sake of having stuff. I have reduced my furniture down to the essentials, dumped half the stuff in my kitchen I never used, or used only once, and reduced my wardrobe down to a week worth of clothes.
This leaves the door open for more creativity. Not only do I have tons of room in my small studio apartment, but I have a free mind as well. Not being surrounded by all that stuff has cleared the air. I now look forward to coming home and using this great space for projects and expanding my business.
After seeing technology de-innovate over the past two years (iOS 11 is backwards) with minimalist interfaces and complicated gestures, more and more data collection, and annoying ads everywhere, I have begun reducing my reliance on tech. I am planning on getting rid of my iPhone and replacing it with a dumb flip phone. I will use a small tablet for the sake of convenience at the coffee shop. I will also dust off my S95 camera so I don’t miss anything and can document my adventures at any moment.
Having less technology around me reminds me that Americans truly work too hard. We are given the conveniences so corporations can profit from us, keep us connected. I don’t mean a conspiracy theory, but look at Europe, they are happier and work less than we do. Do we really want driver-less cars so we can start work the moment we leave or houses? Just stop and ask yourself, what is technology really doing for me? If you love it, great. If you wonder if the grass is greener with less tech in your life, give it a shot and cut back.
The creative world comes alive when you limit the technology, the stuff, and clear the air in your home. For me, I have renewed energy for podcasts, creating online courses for SpiralAnalytics, and even painting (I recent took up acrylic). Let creativity shine!
The 3 Words
You might recall, I started off the year with three words to define my 2018. Inspired by Chris Brogan’s concept, I chose active, plan and explore.
Active – Going well in respects to my physical fitness and being more active physically. I do have a bit of work to do with becoming more active in my community. I have not identified a non-profit to volunteer with. Longmont offers a few historical ideas, as does Erie and Louisville. I also need to get out more in the evenings after work. So, active is okay, but needs more focus.
Plan – Daily to do lists and progress charts are just a part of my plan. Plan really refers to knowing what I need to do, learning, and being prepared for the next step. For instance, I am considering leasing a car. I am doing research into what may fit my needs, as well as asking the question, Is this the right time? Plan is about being prepared to make an educated decision and executing that decision efficiently. Overall, Plan is going well.
Explore – Not only explore beautiful Colorado, but also explore what I want to learn, new hobbies, and try new things. I haven’t done many weekend road trips, but I have been exploring N Scale model trains. I have also been researching changes in social media. Exploring cars for a potential a new car lease, and dabbling in painting and sketching. I have also been exploring platforms to host online custom online courses. So, exploring has been busy.
Ah yes, my analytics consulting business. Things are going well. Busy with clients in Colorado while designing, authoring and recording online courses to share my knowledge and experience with analytics. What was supposed to be launched in December of 2017 with a WordPress blog and a few membership plugins turned out to be a lot of work and is almost ready to launch with Thinkific. SpiralAnalytics wants to educate and share our knowledge so our users can live in a data driven world and help them launch or refine their own career in analytics. Stay tuned… SpiralAnalytics is just getting warmed up.
This update has gotten a bit longer than I thought, so I will stop here. Head over to my Patreon profile and consider a $5/mo subscription. There is plenty of content over there to make your $5 well spent. Keep thinking about those three words and how they define your actions. Finally stay tuned for our first online course, authored by yours truly!
During 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.
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.
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.
Analysts 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.
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:
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.
Monitoring your sales team is a major part of success. Sales managers and executives need a simplified media to review key performance indicators KPIs to understand how their sales team is performing.
Such a simplified media is a dashboard style report which includes both charts and data tables which report KPIs pertinent to the business. In a for profit business, typically revenue generation is at the top of the KPI list, followed by product performance, rep performance, and then rep productivity metrics.
Since simple is good, Spiral Analytics, the name of my analytics solution company, is offering a gig through Fiverr. The $5 Gig provides a basic template and setup for a sales team dashboard which follow the metrics above. Additional charts and the ability to maintain the dashboard for you are available at additional charge. For more information, send us an email below.