SharePoint and Sales Team Management

by Megan Sproles

B​usiness Outcome Methodology (BOM) may seem to be an executive problem managed by a dedicated business intelligence group with high-powered (expensive) software. Actually the value of BOM can be realized by any team manager or leader with the tools available in an enterprise installation of SharePoint. The important concept is that you cannot manage what you cannot measure. In traditional sales management, the only outcome that an organization cares about is revenue produced. In enterprise sales, this can result in an “all or nothing” approach to accounts that can harm the long-term relationships necessary to continue engaging with customers year after year. A wise sales manager will evaluate business outcomes in the sales funnel before the deal is closed. By monitoring how account executives or sales teams are performing as they pursue leads, generate prospects, and grow opportunities a sales manager can actually be managing their sales process instead of simply watching the revenue flow.

SharePoint for Measuring Outcomes

This approach to sales leadership can be well served by using features in SharePoint that are often overlooked. Most organizations treat SharePoint as a collaboration tool at best. At worst, it’s essentially a shared drive and dumping ground for files. This is the equivalent of having an expensive 3D projection table with piles of books and papers on it. Sure it makes for a fine abstract filing system, but the people who leave their stuff there are completely missing out on the capabilities of the tool. Advanced SharePoint users will take advantage of document tagging, metadata and workflows. A small percentage will embrace the value of content types, templates, and document routing. Beyond that very few groups appreciate the analytic and reporting capabilities built into the SharePoint framework:

– Access and Excel Services give businesses a lightweight framework to take data that would traditionally be stored in a file on a shared drive and put that data somewhere accessible. Once this business data is in one of the SharePoint data services, analytics and reporting become much easier. – PerformancePoint Services enable the creation of performance indicators, scorecards, reports, and dashboards on data such as that stored in Access or Excel Services as well as other business systems.

– Business Connectivity Services can connect other data stores or databases so that SharePoint’s infrastructure can access it as though it were native SharePoint data.

– SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) can create analytic models and even perform data mining on aggregations of data from multiple sources.

– SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) provides enterprise-class reporting on the data collected. SSRS also has a virtually unknown geospatial reporting capability, making geographic mapping reports very easy to create “out of the box.”

– PowerPivot and PowerView “democratize” these tools to a large degree, allowing models and reports to be designed by power users instead of having design stuck in the IT Department. Consider a sales team that covers a geographic area. The “100 level” management approach would be to have account executives file leads, customer reports, projections, and maybe even a sales funnel. This kind of paperwork doesn’t reflect a “team.” Instead what the manager has is a herd of cats — a group of individuals each pursuing individual goals in the same office. SharePoint provides the tools to manage a sales organization as a team and better yet – to manage the team by outcome instead of by executive fiat.

SharePoint and SQL Server for Reporting

It’s very straightforward to create a sales reporting database in either SQL Server or SharePoint Access Services. By using InfoPath forms for data entry, your sales executives don’t have to worry about what the back end looks like. Once you’ve captured data on leads and prospects, you can start generating scorecards based on quotas using SharePoint’s built-in PerformancePoint Services. It gets more interesting when you add SQL Server’s geospatial features. How would you like a map of where in your district the revenue is coming from? Or a geographic map of where your leads are? Being able to track how your account executives are focusing their efforts can expose underserved areas, “green field” customers, or even possible overlap between accounts. There are two ways to manage a sales team – you can either be completely “hands off” and simply watch funnel reports. However, this frequently allows accounts with difficulties to escape attention until the end of the quarter (or worse – the end of the year). A manager can be more “hands on,” but cannot micromanage all of his or her sales professionals. Account insight reporting as described above gives a sales manager the information to better guide their team to success through actual performance instead of perceived activity.

 

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