14 Signs You're a Sales Manager Who's a Slave to Excel

Last Updated: Monday, December 5, 2016 by Robb Sands

Updated: January 6, 2017


Executive Summary

 → what you are expected to achieve  → how you spend your time managing  → what tasks you do over and over each month Approx. Skim Time: 1min 00sec ~ 195 wordsFull Read Time:6 min 20sec~ 1515 words

14 Signs You're a Slave to Excel

1. Your boss expects you to do more with less every year

You've got the same tools for the job you've had since before Tony Blair was Prime Minister (John Major ended his PM stint in 1997), including Microsoft Office, with Excel in particular. Excel hasn't changed much, aside from moving the menus around every few years just to make your life more difficult.

Doing more with less, using dated technology.

2. Your competition is spending money faster than Team McLaren as they try to get ahead, and stay there.

While your technology and infrastructure budget hasn't nudged upward, you are keenly aware that your competition is splurging on new initiatives left, right and centre, trying to build a competitive advantage so they can outpace your team in the race to be #1 in your sector.

Competitors are racing ahead, thanks to the latest gear.

3. Most of your sales team requires constant nagging reminders to complete pre-sale activities in order to keep their pipeline filled and flowing.

Nag-management has become a big part of your daily regimen, because your salespeople do not have a clear view of their pipeline activities to know their number of calls, emails, meetings, demos, etc. This leaves you to remind them to balance their day between pursuing closing sales, and keeping the pipeline filled with pre-sale activities.

Nagging each salesperson so they complete their pre-sale tasks.

4. You spend less time each month managing, training and selling, and more time doing administrative tasks

Administrative overhead tends to grow faster than sales as systems, processes, procedures and tools are not put in place to help managers work smarter. Your competition is embracing technology and threatens to leave you behind as you attempt to get Excel to do things it wasn't designed to do.

Administrivia is your middle name.

5. Your monthly rituals involve too much copy, paste, edit in Excel spreadsheets

We've all had to go through this repetition each month in which a monthly spreadsheet is copied and pasted, then edited to suit the current month. When formulas don't copy cleanly, they have to be edited too. Ranges have to be redefined, every month so that they fit the corrected number of rows, which differs with reports done every month, every quarter and every year.

Copy, paste, edit - rinse, lather, repeat.

6. You're manually re-creating or re-running reports each month/quarter/year

You know these reports have to be run every month. I know these reports have to be run each month. Why doesn't Excel kjnow these reports have to be run each month and just do it automatically? With no good answer to this question, it leaves you manually re-creating and re-running reports for every month-end, quarter-end, year-end, plus any ad-hoc reports wanted by management in-between those regular intervals.

Manual actions that should be automatic.

7. You spend more time figuring out how to do something than actually doing it

Being a self-starter, you know that you must be the one to figure things out and get things gone - otherwise they won't get done, or won't get done properly. When it comes to trying to use Excel for reports, dashboards, tracking sales team performance, analysing customers/locations/products/customer-types/salespeople, you copied what you learned previously, then relied on Google searches and trial and error to figure out how to improve things along the way. This can be exciting, satisfying, frustrating and extremely time consuming.

How to do more without spending more takes more time.

8. You have to combine data in order to make effective use of it

Having a single chart that shows sales performance vs target is one sure fire way to motivate salespeople to put in the effort needed to succeed. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't easily combine two such data sets, like Actual Orders and Targets. That leaves you manually cutting and pasting, or manually recreating these two bits of information, then sharing it with the salesperson or sales team in question.

Manual stitching together of data to make sense of it.


9. You've got multiple tabs or sheets for every pivot so you can analyse what's happening

Doing the copy, paste, edit, shuffle, you manually create sheets each month, then copy and paste the pivot table formulas so that you can more easily analyse how each salesperson is performing, each customer type, sales office location and so on. One pivot means one tab and gives one bit of information, all manually thanks to your copy, paste, edit shuffling about!

More sheets, more tabs, more pivots, more copy, paste, edit.

10. You're logging-in to so many systems you need a spreadsheet to keep track of them all

Not even Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix could be more interconnected to as many computer systems as you, with separate credentials for each and different import, output and reporting capabilities from every one. Pulling data from such a myriad of systems may qualify you for a named shared drive on the network of your very own, but does nothing to help your productivity as you spend entirely too much time logging into and out of various systems, just to get bits and bobs of data needed to effectively manage your department sales team.

Too many systems for too little valuable data.

11. Piecing together your pipeline view is more like assembling a set of Lego blocks than it is simply running a report

You feel hamstrung by a lack of end to end pipeline view, having a hodge-podge of data hacked together from varying sources, just to find out how your salespeople are doing with calls, appointments, meetings, emails, and other pre-sale activities. A visual representation of this would be something you could dream of having, but isn't something to expect in this quarter, this year.

Patching together a pipeline report is like Lego's, without the fun.

12. Your management information is often unavailable until after end-of-month close

Stats from some systems are available only on a monthly basis, and not until after the end of the first week in the following month, to allow time for various input and review processes to properly close them out for a given month. That puts you somewhere between 1 and 4 weeks behind the times, always, with the thought of having real-time data the stuff of fairy tales.

Old data isn't always better than no data.

13. You'd love to drill-down deeper into sales team performance but don't have the tools

Excel is great as a flat table of data. It's terrible as an exploratory tool and couldn't dream of offering you the ability to drill-down into the numbers, viewing performance by category, such as salesperson, sales office, customer type, product type, etc. You've dreamed of exploring and analysing by region, by customer type, or other two-fold methods analysis, but know that in Excel this is just two-times the work.

No matter how much you Google it, you can't always turn Excel into a silk purse.

14. Business Intelligence and Marketing Automation seem closer to Minority Report than your company, today

There's a lot of predictions being bandied about regarding how organisations will get ahead in 2017, ranging from artificial intelligence to predictive analytics. The world of 2015 and 2016 was dominated by talk of business intelligence and marketing automation, at the enterprise level, though within your organisation these are spoken of as if they were part of some fiction by Isaac Asimov where he discusses folding space and teleportation.

You've heard about enabling technology, but know it's priced out of reach in 2016 and beyond.

Take the Pain Out of Excel
Find out how top performing sales organisations are using Target Dashboard to gain a competitive advantage by enhancing Excel.

Is This You?

It's entirely possible that none of the above apply to you. It's entirely possible that you're one of the competing organisations that sales managers trapped as slaves to Excel have come to know and fear. If that's the case - Congratulations! You're the envy of competitors in your sector!!

However, if you can relate to half, or more, of the above points, then you're in desperate need of some help in one form or another. Excel doesn't have to hold you in a death-grip. Excel doesn't have to be tossed aside and disregarded for all eternity. However, you need to find ways of enabling Excel, and yourself, to do more in less time.

bar chart showing weekly targets 

Read more from the Target Dashboard Blog and find out how you can get a competitive advantage on the competition with a minimal outlay and a minimum of time commitment on your part...

Learn how you can build your competitive advantage, today, at the Target Dashboard Blog