Best Practices in Board Reporting: Presenting Sales and Marketing KPIs

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In the absence of effective sales and marketing board reporting, companies lack a clear roadmap for adjusting their strategy and go-to-market plans. A report for the CEO and board of directors that doesn’t show the correct information in the right way can lead to misinformed decisions, missed opportunities, and a disconnect between strategic intent and operational reality.

Effective board reporting, in the realm of sales and marketing, is the bridge between strategic vision and detailed execution. Here’s what board executives should expect to see from their revenue generating teams.

CONVERSION JOURNEY RATES

Board members with a finance or business background are not familiar with marketing jargon and processes. What is most helpful to them is a clear look at a customers’ conversion journey  — from an inbound lead to a marketing qualified lead, a sales qualified lead, and finally, a sale. 

This overview, akin to a funnel but more circular in nature, highlights that the journey is not a simple leap from lead to sale. Not every lead progresses seamlessly, and there are inevitable drop-offs—customers who may not truly be qualified or ready to make a purchase. 

Clear and informative data on conversion rates offers board members a high-level understanding of customer progression through the sales funnel, leading to a more comprehensive comprehension of sales and marketing dynamics.

PRECISION IN NUMBERS

While it may seem self-evident, precision in data analysis is non-negotiable. Boards unequivocally reject the notion of “flyover graphs” or reports that merely scratch the surface of sales and marketing metrics. The expectation is for individuals, particularly those with finance backgrounds, to be able to swiftly dissect and comprehend the presented numbers, whether in the form of charts, graphs, or other data formats.

It also goes without saying that the numbers need to add up. If someone questions the integrity of the data, it can create doubts about the entire sales and marketing enterprise, as well as the credibility of the individuals leading it.

COLLABORATIVE FORECASTING

Boards, stakeholders, and CEOs expect a clear articulation of past accomplishments and a well-defined plan for the future. Forecasting requires a thorough examination of past behaviors, considering both marketing expenditures and the resulting revenue. This involves teaming up with an analyst to scrutinize trends and make projections.

At times, marketing teams may be reluctant to commit to forecasting budgets, while sales teams may resist being constrained by projections. However, both teams must use the historical data to anticipate future outcomes.

Pro forma analyses are standard in the financial sector, and it is crucial for sales and marketing to provide a similar level of analysis. Despite the inherent challenges in predicting the sometimes unpredictable nature of customer behavior, a well-informed forecast is a necessary step.

STRATEGIC KPIs ONLY

Boards are primarily concerned with two key metrics: revenue and EBITDA. Any KPIs or performance metrics beyond these core financial indicators should be avoided in a board report, unless they directly relate to those two things. Tactical KPIs, especially those requiring additional explanations or delving into non-revenue-related metrics like click-through rates or website conversion rates, are not appropriate. 

In essence, the board report should serve as a focused and easily digestible document, presenting the KPIs that offer a direct line of sight to the company’s financial health and performance. This both ensures the attention of the audience and resonates with their overarching goals and concerns.

EFFICIENCY METRICS AND COST PER ACQUISITION

Efficiency metrics, particularly those linked to advertising spend and sales, provide valuable insights for the board to understand market demand. The cost per acquisition (CAC) is especially noteworthy, serving as a crucial gauge of the effectiveness of marketing and sales efforts.

For example, if the cost per acquisition (CAC) stays highly efficient even when advertising spend increases, it signals a significant market volume—an outcome every executive board likes to hear. When including efficiency metrics and CAC in board reports, it is important to keep it high level. This ensures the board gets practical insights into advertising and sales efficiency, aiding decision-making without including granular specifics.

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CREATIVE WORK

Occasionally, breaking from the usual financial focus with a single slide highlighting the company’s brand visuals, including new ads, blogs, and content from platforms like YouTube and Instagram, can be a good thing. While not directly tied to lead generation or revenue, the human touch does showcase the ongoing creative work toward revenue goals.

A BALANCE OF DATA AND SIMPLICITY

Developing a good board report for CEOs and directors means finding a balance between comprehensive data with simplicity, meeting the board’s preference for a clear overview of the lead-to-sale journey, accurate numbers, and strategic alignment with financial goals. 

Incorporating collaborative forecasting, efficiency metrics, and occasional visuals ensures informative reporting that resonates with diverse board backgrounds. It provides history and a path forward for the management team.

For more information about how Craig Group leverages data to plan and refine go-to-market strategies for its private equity backed middle-market clients, visit craiggroup.io.

Author: Summer Craig

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