Turning the Lights on Sales & Margin

Our dashboard solution for a local food distributor.

Turning the Lights on Sales & Margin

Challenge

The client, an expanding local food distributor based in Toronto, Canada, lacked detailed visibility of their weekly sales and margin, both on the product and customer side. Their ERP did not provide an intuitive and flexible reporting tool. The alternative solution, a large Excel pivot table built out of extracts from their ERP, was no longer up to the task: it had nearly 2000 rows, wasn’t interactive, and didn’t include any product intelligence. The result: getting answers to detailed sales-related questions was “a monster of work,” according to the CEO.

The client had reached the stage where a new tool was needed to match the company’s stage of growth, and to support a proactive sales strategy.

Solution

We transformed the wealth of raw data from the client’s ERP into an interactive, automated dashboard that combines sales and profit analyses on customers and products. Designed in collaboration with the CEO, who oversees sales, the dashboard gives end-users a list of all customers they can easily rank by sales amount, sales growth, or margin. They can then drill down into a customer, or group of customers, to view those same measures by product. Users have the flexibility to do the reverse and start with a product analysis, and then view top customers for a certain product. There is total flexibility to choose the date range, and compare it either to the parallel period preceding it or the same period last year – a key functionality given the seasonality of some products. To add more value to the solution, we merged the sales data with the client’s weekly forecasts, stored in a separate Excel file, to include sales versus forecast tracking.

The dashboard is the sales brain of the business, empowering salespeople to react quickly to trends and focus on top performers.

The client’s previous Excel solution, right, and the overview of the Sales & Margin dashboard, right.
Key Benefits
  • A single source of truth for all employees working in Sales
  • Real-time data on sales and margin performance by customer, by product
  • Instant view of top/bottom performers
  • List of non-returning customers
  • Weekly sales versus forecast tracking
Return-on-Investment

The solution is now the focal point of the weekly sales meetings, a single source of truth for both managers and sales reps to define their strategy and tasks for the week ahead. “Estimating a quantitative return is almost irrelevant: this is brand new for us,” says the CEO. “Not only are we saving significant time to find answers, we are also looking at data in new ways. We went from operating in the dark to turning the lights on.”

Evolving with the Business

A few months after the initial solution was released, the client’s sales strategy was reorganised around newly hired sales representatives. The client created a new field with sales rep names in their ERP, and asked us to incorporate this element in the solution. Thanks to the flexibility of the solution, we were able to quickly and cost-effectively add a sales rep filter in the dashboard. This allows the CEO to see individual reps’ performance, and the reps to focus on their own accounts.