Sales and marketing requires constant diagnostic tuning if you want to stay at peak performance. How do you maximize the use of your sales and marketing (SAM) tracking software to become more profitable and effective? Here are a few tips.

Run reports and set benchmarks.

Reporting is your best tool for measuring for improvement. If you don’t constantly measure for improve- ment, you can’t determine if things are getting better or worse and identify if you’re making progress toward your goals. It’s amazing how a little time spent analyzing your performance statistics from different angles can form a completely new picture.

Only measure for relevant results.

Measure those activities or results that are most important to successfully achieving your organization’s goals—

these are your key performance indicators (KPIs). A KPI will only be of value, however, if there’s a way to accurately define and track it. One example could be: “Decrease cancellations by 0.05 % monthly until we sustain a 4% cancellation threshold”, or “Increase VPG on married couples under age 30 by ‘x’ amount”. With today’s software choices, look for a solution that offers many sales reporting capabilities, so you can report on the life cycle of a tour from every perspective. Today’s sales and marketing (SAM) technology can almost predict your agents’ effectiveness for a day of the week and their best tour time of that day, based on historical patterns.

Measure activities you may have overlooked.

There is a ton of profit in the details. Analyze components of the

tour’s life cycle you may not have considered before. Category by category, you can measure both success and failures by a far wider range of variables and criteria than previously available. You can filter by date range first and then run a report that shows trending. Daily, monthly, and week- by-week comparative reports should be grouped by as many measurable variables as possible that impact the tour, such as gift, OPC, liner, closer, VLO, tour times, product types, sale status (penders, cancellations, funded), and more.

Overcome your biggest obstacle: software avoidance.

Simplify your SAM reporting so that it is not overly complicated to use, or your organization will avoid it like the plague. Have the “report expert” train your staff on the simplest ones first, to acclimate them to running reports frequently. These reports will help them understand the impact of marketing decisions and increase the company’s bottom line. Give them tools to achieve higher effectiveness they will actually use. Today’s SAM software can permit every person in your organization limited access to measure themselves for performance while protecting sensitive data proprietary to the developer.

Measure twice, cut once.

Use your SAM reporting program to discover which actions or teams are effective and which are not, looking for patterns over time. Implement training sessions where you can use examples of this information to pose interesting questions and challenge the staff to use the software to identify a specific success or failure point. Examples would be: “Who can tell me what our strongest tour time is by VPG?” or “Identify the conversion rates of pending sales to processable by our two highest closers.” It then becomes easier to find a way to reproduce that desired result.

In today’s challenging economic times, we can take existing budgets and extract far more revenue from the existing marketing dollar when we mine the data we already have to help us pinpoint and focus on our strengths.

Distribute this info to appropriate personnel.

Effective sales and marketing software is able to provide all this information and more, to everyone that wants to measure for improvement. A common pitfall and obstacle to maximizing your SAM investment is failing to disseminate the gold mine to be found in your data to the right people. Many companies provide on-demand access to reports that are real time and Web-based, filtered by log-on. Certain information needs to be accessible to those

most capable of affecting change. This might mean opening some of the reporting from top to bottom in a limited way even for agents, rather than leaving it only for “C” level executives and directors.

It’s a highly competitive market out there. Using your sales and marketing software properly provides your staff easy opportunities to improve in specific areas that used to be hard to measure and track. If you’re not empowering your staff to use the software to its fullest capabilities, you’re leaving money on the table every time. Let’s raise the bottom line.

Todd is CEO of TrackResults Software. His e-mail is

Starting Checklist

  • Designate staff to be your reporting experts. These personnel will know your stats numbers from the inside out and will learn to notice the slightest changes instantly.
  • Implement beginner and advanced training sessions. Feature/information overload can intimidate your users. Include as many people as possible on access lists and then teach them to use it. Help new users become comfortable with your SAM product. Experienced users should receive further training as well from the software developers, learning advanced tricks and tips.
  • Motivate your staff to use these tools—make it as easy as possible. Technology- challenged staff need simple steps to get started. Use shortcuts and saved reporting queries to simplify the process for them. Recognize that everyone is capable of implementing improvements in obscure areas, and these too, are measurable. Acknowledge and reward those that discover new performance peaks and valleys.

Tip Overview

  • Make sure you have a reporting system in place and develop some internal report- experts. This person should be training as many key personnel as possible to become experts also.
  • Ensure that sufficient permissions are assigned based on the role of each user.
  • Encourage all staff to have constant awareness of their numbers and provide access to that data. Spot-check their proficiency by asking for current statistics.
  • Look at your performance data from others’ viewpoints. Feedback on the results is crucial to improvement.
  • Enforce policy that data input must be accurate—otherwise, it’s worthless. Encourage your resort industry professionals to challenge data that seems inaccurate, and then run alternate reports to determine validity of the claim.