Leveraging Sales Performance Reports to Optimize Outcomes and Drive Business Growth

September 20, 2023
September 6, 2023

It’s no secret that the most successful businesses harness the power of data to fuel their growth and optimize results. 

Sales performance reports, for example, offer an effective way to measure outcomes, helping leaders track and analyze key performance and revenue metrics over a period of time. The information gleaned from these reports can then be used to spot trends, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about sales strategy.

GTM (Go-To-Market) performance reports come in many flavors, often focusing on operations, financials, projects, employees, marketing, and (of course) sales.

In our on-demand webinar, Leveraging Performance Reports to Drive Business Growth & Optimal Potential, several SaaS leaders had a lively discussion about how to best leverage performance reports to drive business growth and optimize overall results. But before we dive head-first into what they had to share, let’s take a closer look at what you can do to get the utmost value out of your sales performance reports.

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Sales Performance Reports

Sales performance reports can be used to improve sales performance in a few key areas: 

Uncover opportunities for improvement: A good sales performance report will showcase underperforming reps, find new sales leads, and reveal ways to improve the sales process. Specifically, helping to inform decisions around pricing, marketing, and sales outreach.

Track progress: Sales performance reports can help sales teams track their progress over time. This information can be used to see how their sales performance is improving and to identify areas where they need to make further improvements.

Motivate reps: Sales performance reports can help motivate sales reps to achieve their goals. By tracking their progress and seeing how their work is contributing to the company's bottom line, reps can stay motivated and focused.

But sales performance reporting is not “one-and-done.” In order to truly accomplish all of the above, they must be reviewed regularly.

When to Analyze Sales Performance Reports

Generally speaking, you should be analyzing sales performance reports often.

In the aforementioned webinar, Leveraging Performance Reports to Drive Business Growth & Optimal Potential, we heard from CaptivateIQ's Director of Solutions Engineering, Arni Khanna, who shared that he reviews sales performance reports weekly: “I’m looking for trends and behaviors. For example, if something is falling off the rails, I may introduce a spiff to counter until ‘the ship is righted.’ I then remove the spiff once I’m confident this new behavior is common practice.”

As SVP of RevOps at Patra, Sandy Robinson also always reviews sales performance reports, especially when they are easily accessible and customizable: “Having a strong relationship with sales leaders and the CRO is essential. Ensuring we all are looking at the same data — and understand it.”

But not all reports need to be reviewed so often. Each sales leader has their favorites.

Scott Schnaar, Vice President of Americas at Cloudinary, has a sales performance report called “The Don’t Be On The Report” Report. It includes all the negative behaviors Scott wants to surface ... missing next steps, no scheduled meeting associated with an opportunity, or a deal sitting in a stage for far too long. This report gets sent to the entire sales organization weekly. You certainly do not want to be on this report!

Arni’s go-to is the quarterly forecasting report. First, he looks at the opportunity score — which tells his team the likelihood of a deal closing. This score takes into account conversion rate and other key metrics. So if Arni sees a deal is close to the finish line, yet the opportunity score is really low, he knows this is one he needs to dive into.

So far, we’ve merely touched on sales commission reports —the bread and butter of what we do here at CaptivateIQ. But what’s the difference between sales performance and commission reports?

Sales Commission Reports: A Deeper Dive

One way to report on sales performance is with Sales Commission Reports, which focus on the financial rewards earned by the sales team and help you understand how well your incentive strategy is working. These reports detail the commissions each salesperson earned based on their individual sales, providing transparency into the direct correlation between performance and financial reward, serving as a crucial motivational tool.

Effective sales commission reports include opportunities for auditing commission payouts to ensure fairness and accuracy, and  help identify top performers as well as those needing a ... nudge (or more).

A solid sales commission report may include a dashboard detailing the key metrics: Sales goals + sales performance + commissions earned + sales pipeline + customer acquisition costs + sales quota attainment + more.

Ultimately, sales commission reports (and the strategy that drives them) should be about attracting, retaining, and motivating top performers.

Sandy Robinson, SVP of Revenue Operations at Patra, said, “Performance and commission reports go hand in hand. Performance is competitive. Think: Leaderboards, coaching towards quota and goals, and so on. Commission is how much you get paid, an aspect of performance. Because someone is earning a commission doesn’t necessarily mean they are performing at a high level. Commissions are more intimate and personal.”

CaptivateIQ’s very own Arni Khanna, Director of Solutions Engineering, says that sales performance reports “provide a clear view of how an individual, team, or company overall is performing across the board — a high-level overview.” Commission reports, on the other hand, “allows you to dig into the details to look at trends to see if a person is doing their job well. Commission reports also help to incentivize certain behaviors.”

Both sales performance and sales commission reports are essential to ensuring your business is effectively growing.

Not only do commission reports serve to attract, retain, and motivate top performers, but they can also help boost a positive culture.

The Crucial Link Between Performance Reporting and Sales Team Culture

Sales performance reports — and specifically data from commission reports — can significantly influence the sales culture within an organization, shaping a sales team’s behaviors, motivations, and attitudes. 

Here are a few ways: 

Motivation and Performance: Commission structures are often designed to incentivize and reward high performance. This creates a competitive, performance-driven environment, motivating all to work harder, perform better, and ultimately generate more revenue for the organization. However, if executed poorly, it can also cause a cutthroat, every-human-out-for-themselves culture.

Goal Orientation: If commission is tied to specific targets or products, the sales culture will inherently lean toward prioritizing these objectives. This can influence the way salespeople approach their clients and how they sell. The key here: alignment to the most impactful goals.

Teamwork vs. Individualism: We alluded to this above, but — for good or bad — commission structure can affect the level of collaboration or competition among team members.

Ethics and Integrity: The commission structure can also influence the overall ethical standards of the team or organization. A system that rewards volume without considering the quality of sales can create a culture that does not value integrity. Conversely, a well-designed commission structure can have the opposite impact.

Scott, Arni, and Sandy all agreed that simplicity, transparency, and erring on the rep’s side all install a culture of trust and openness within a sales organization.

“Give the rep benefit of the doubt,” shared Sandy. “Not everything can be an exception. A really complex plan can drive a negative culture.”

At CaptivateIQ, we use our own commission software platform, obviously. “We have a concept of a dream number,” shared Arni. “We make that number very transparent and then help show sales reps how to get there. The model updates monthly, providing managers with the necessary tools and data to best coach each rep.

Bonus: The What If Calculator lets salespeople see each deal’s impact on their commission statement immediately.

Commission data plays a pivotal role in shaping the sales culture. A carefully and deliberately designed and managed commission structure can promote a healthy, effective sales culture that aligns with their overall business goals and values.

3 Sales Performance and Commission Report Takeaways

We closed out the webinar by asking our sales leaders their key takeaways. Here is what they shared: 

Arni says you need good foundations to produce excellent performance reports. “Part of this is understanding how the various systems in your tech stack talk to each other.”

Sandy suggests investing heavily in a strong RevOps leader (she may be a bit biased). “Alignment is key. What are objectives? Communicate these objectives with sales leaders, reps, and so on, and ensure they understand how the performance and commission reports are built. Hold everyone accountable.”

Scott believes in the power of the data, but “we are working with humans, so we need to maintain a sense of ‘humanness’ when talking to people. People want to work for good people who set goals and hold them accountable.”

Want to dive a bit deeper into this topic? Hear more insights from Arni, Sandy, and Scott? Check out our on-demand webinar, “Leveraging Performance Reports to Drive Business Growth & Optimal Potential.”

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