What information or sales and marketing reports does a CEO need to run an organisation as effectively as possible? It is a simple question, but often leaders don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about it and fall into the trap of just reviewing what functional heads provide.
Many CEOs are drowning in product reports, the margin by product line, customer data, and pipeline reports with huge tails of potential sales numbers. Marketing smoothers them with website activity, Google reports, campaign results and CRM data. The more questions, the more data appears in reports. So although they are sales and marketing reports, you can call it Big Data too!
It is easy for CEOs to be drawn into the data and ask more questions as they seek to solve the problems. But, CEOs who are flooded with such data often reduce their ability to drive company performance.
This style of data is below-the-line functional data that is part of the functional manager’s responsibility to drive ground-level performance. To direct their staff on performance requirements and focus. This is the how-to information, not the strategic direction and focus point information.
CEOs do not need excessive data or information that is wrong. Instead, they need sales and marketing reports in three specific formats that give accurate data sequentially, allowing them to make sound decisions.
The most effective CEOs need information and reporting that takes these three characteristics.
1. Information that is normalised.
No matter how smart the CEO is, expecting them to understand and monitor functional data from sales and marketing isn’t realistic. Many CEOs come from backgrounds in operations and finance, and sales and marketing reports are not their strength when they are not articulated clearly and concisely.
CEO reporting needs to be reduced to a one-page report from sales and marketing. For a product-based company, it is a top-line report and will include the success criteria for the business being points like:
- Sales (booked orders) to sales quota/goals
- Product group orders to sales quota
- Converted pipeline report for the coming quarters
- Marketing lead contribution to sales
- Conversion ratio of lead to proposal
- Conversion ratio of proposal to sale
With this information in hand, the performance of the sales and marketing departments can be quickly ascertained. These are six key contributing success factors.
Why do they only need a top line? CEOs make decisions, and sales managers are there to drill down to find the reasons why and how to deliver on those requirements.
2. Information that is predictive.
CEO decision-making is about setting the direction for the future. However, most reporting provided to them is about historical information on how sales have performed to date, and the costs associated with sales and marketing departments. Yes, you need to understand what has occurred, but more importantly, a CEO needs to know where the business is heading.
Therefore, one of the best forms of reporting for a CEO is the answer to this question: “Will your sales department deliver its sales goals for the next month, quarter and two quarters?” Managing the horizon is vital to the decision-making required of CEOs.
3. Information that shows trends.
CEOs manage trends, not moments in time. They are looking at the business, and their primary concern is growth. Is the company growing? Is the business profitable?
What trends are occurring in the business? Trends related to product margins, market share, market expansion, new business acquisition, and product penetration. These are all indicators of a company strategy being on trend or not delivering the required results.
When you look at the sales and marketing reports of normalised data, predictive data and trends, you can be confident in making sound decisions for the business.
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