|Posted by Taylor Reporting Solutions, LLC on October 15, 2009 at 12:05 AM|
We all know that it's hard to make strategic decisions that we're confident about if we don't have detailed, accurate data to support us. But we also recognize that asking our sales teams to create useful reports often distracts them from the sales process. This can be quite a problem and the typical result is less-than-perfect reports which still distract the team on some level.
So what do we do? One answer is to design powerfully detailed reports that can be generated without any involvement by the sales team. The following ten items can help simplify the report-creation process and will result in reliable reports that are filled with useful data. Implementing even just a few of them can make a big difference.
10. Set up templates in REPS for data that you pull regularly. This simple step can save many steps and many hours over time.
9. Use formulas to calculate conversion rates, cancellation rates and other key summary data so it is always available at a glance.
8. Use formulas to populate all the date fields in your Excel templates so they update automatically from week to week and from year to year.
7. Use look-up tables to store data that changes on a predictable basis, like weekly, quarterly, or annual goals. This way, you can be sure that it updates automatically and no one has to remember to change the formulas.
6. Use drop-down menus in your Excel templates to link dates with their data. This way, by selecting the date for the data you want to see (last week, this month, or two years ago), you have access to the specific details you want, when you want them, but you don't have to be distracted by a whole year's worth of data each time you look at a report.
5. If the same piece of data is presented in more than one place (either on the same report or on more than one report), store the data in one sheet and link to it from all other places it shows up. This way, if something changes, you only have to remember to update one cell.
4. If you use a summary dashboard-type report to outline the key details of multiple communities, link all the data back to the community reports. There is no reason to enter the same data in both reports.
3. Visually and physically separate your data into "detail" and "summary" sections. This way, each reader can focus on the data that means the most to them, instead of having to search though row after row of data for the numbers they want. This will also make it easier on your bankers or members of corporate who want a big-picture summary but also want to know that the right people are keeping an eye on the details.
2. Implement and insist upon an "If it's not in REPS, it didn't happen" policy. A few delayed commission checks will encourage members of your sales and marketing teams to take REPS seriously and enter their data consistently. There is absolutely NO WAY to produce reliable, insightful reports if the data they're based on is patchy or unpredictable.
And the most effective way to streamline your reports?
1. Import data directly from your lead management system (like REPS) into Excel templates. This will reduce the chance for human error, ensure accuracy of the data, and eliminate the all-too-common "harassing people for data" situation that distracts everyone from the sales process.
And for good measure, here's a bonus tip: pre-populate formulas to link the source data to the summary template. That way, when you pull data out of REPS, your Excel templates will automatically update.
Start streamling your reports today. Your sales teams will thank you and you'll be able to make better-informed decisions with data you can rely on.
Don't forget: no one on your sales team should spend more than 5-10 minutes a week putting together reports.... there are much better ways to spend that time!