Meet Veronica she’s got it all figured out.

The Problem: how to choose KPIs that will have the most immediate, direct effect on revenue.

To answer this problem let’s meet Veronica. She is one of those people that you always seem to hear about- rarely stressed, her managers and teams are consistently meeting or exceeding their sales quotas, the CEO and COO are kept in the loop and couldn’t be more impressed. She attracts top talent that always performs above expectations.

No, she isn’t made up. People like Veronica do exist. But if you could have seen her six months ago you wouldn’t have recognized her or her sales teams. When Veronica joined the company she was hired with the very specific goal of implementing best practices for her industry, ensuring that sales quotas were met- something they hadn’t done in a long while.

Analyze current top performers to discover the KPIs that are right for your business.

When Veronica first started things were a little bumpy, put simply she didn’t know where she should look to find the right best practices to implement. She knew of over a dozen places where she could get a list of KPIs that she should be tracking, but wasn’t sure if these were the exact KPIs that she should be focusing on for her industry. She needed individualized guidance and was coming up short.

So she did what many would do- she started analyzing the sales reports that her company was already generating. The company was still selling, and so she figured, wisely, that if she could identify who the top performing salespeople are then she could use that data to generate a list of best practices that were tried-and-true for her specific company. According to Bob Apollo “A minority of the sales organization – rarely more than 20% – are habitual over-performers. A larger number – often 30% or more – are habitual under-performers… the majority of sales people sit somewhere in the middle: there is some indication that they have the potential to do better, but they have so far failed to consistently and reliably over-perform against their targets.”

So Veronica needed to identify the 20% of her sales organization were her habitual overperformers and establish best practices based on what they were doing, thereby turning that middle ground into a high productivity zone. According to Apollo this is a smart approach, as “The middle ground represents a huge opportunity for performance improvement.”

But herein lies another, more meaningful problem-she needed to find the top 20% but didn’t understand the reports she was getting- they weren’t giving her a clear picture of the overall performance of each sales team. This made it difficult for her to identify who her top performers were and why. Without this information she couldn’t identify what the organization’s best practices were so that she could implement them throughout her sales organization. She was stumbling around in the dark and was under tremendous pressure to perform at a high level and deliver the results she was hired to bring.

Data visualization makes who the top performers are and why easy to see

Veronica discovered that the company was already gathering all of the data she need to improve, she just had no way to see exactly which metrics the top performers were excelling at in order to put them on top. That’s exactly where data visualization enters the picture- with the right way to look at the data the company was already gathering Veronica could identify the top 20%’s best practices and implement them company-wide, and she could do it without wasting a lot of time looking over endless reports, afraid she would miss a crucial KPI.

According to Brian Gentile “Data visualization’s greatest strength comes, arguably, from the way it can bring actionable insights to the surface. Unlike with charts and tables, visualization tools allow the user to interact with and directly manipulate the data sets. This level of interaction allows executives to ask further questions about the data, not just the what, but also the why, how, and where.” And that is precisely what Veronica needed- most CRM data analysis tools, rudimentary though they are, still give the user who the top performers are. They are even gathering data about the KPIs and metrics that the 20% are hitting, they just don’t visualize that information in a way that makes the intelligence actionable.

With the right data visualization Veronica could not only see who her top performers are but, as Gentile points out, was able to see “the why, how, and where.” These deeper questions are the intelligence she needed to identify why her top performers were the best, how they got there and where the rest of her sales organization should be focusing in order to see the biggest gains in performance improvement, fast.

Veronica’s success happened because she was able to use data effectively, seeing how performance metrics impacted revenue and using that information to establish a set of key performance indicators which became the best practices for her sales organization. The process was fast, effective, and enjoyable because she worked smarter. And it started with finding the right tool for the job.