How much data (yuck!) is involved in your regular coaching meetings?
Hopefully some! But I guarantee it’s easier than you think to get more data involved, make it simple to use, and have a better conversation because of it.
When you meet with your clients, you will naturally talk about performance, how things have been going, and where you and your client want to go next, right? If you’re talking about team dynamics, culture, vision, and more qualitative pieces of the business, you don’t really need numbers to support that part of the conversation.
As soon as you get into financial performance, strategy, marketing, etc. numbers and KPIs are crucial to the conversation. Unfortunately, clients aren’t always numbers-savvy so that conversation could seem daunting. Especially if you as the coach aren’t a huge fan of getting into the numbers either (a lot of coaches are in the boat!). It’s hard to do, time consuming, and might not be your specific expertise.
Embracing the performance numbers and the quantitative side of your client’s business is extremely important though, and whether all parties involved are “numbers people” or not, that much is agreed upon. As daunting as it can be, there are simple solutions. Having a dashboard of your client’s results is a game-changer for any coach and client conversation!
What is a Client Performance Dashboard?
A client performance dashboard displays your client’s data in a visually appealing way that’s easy to update, easy to understand, and easy to use for decisions.
That data could be financial (linking up to QuickBooks), marketing (linking up to website traffic or CRMs), operations (inventory, Ecommerce data, etc.), or any other data that can influence your client’s strategy, and therefore your conversation with them. It can also be a combination of all those pieces to create a full, one stop shop view of your client’s business.
What are the benefits of a Client Dashboard?
Solid, data-driven foundations to the conversation.
It all comes back to that, but of course that’s not all. Visualizing your numbers (and your client’s numbers) makes them immediately digestible and understandable. Whether you’re a numbers geek or have a completely artsy brain, these dashboards make the numbers make sense and make them easy to understand for anyone.
No math required. No complex interpretation. Just looking at a picture and letting your subconscious do the work.
Imagine a simple visual for all of the performance numbers you and your client talk about. What marketing initiative has been the best? Check out a simple red yellow green Marketing ROI table and the answer jumps out at you. Simple!
This is the easy approach to being data-driven.
Plus, it tees everything up for the “human” part of the conversation. “Now that we know the numbers, let’s understand why they came out that way and how can we use them to improve?”
Dashboards make numbers into pictures and give you a quantifiable foundation to the (now more informed) conversations you’re having with your clients.
What makes a good dashboard?
Good dashboards are easy to update, easy to understand, and easy to use for decisions.
I know that’s repeat info, but it is certainly worth repeating.
Easy to update normally means an automated connection (easier to do than it sounds) or a simple CSV download. The big thing there is consistency. If you can consistently get the data in the same format (or have some automation do it for you), then you can create dashboards that pull from that and create the visuals you want to see. Check out online low expense tools like Coupler and Zapier – they have pre-built integrations so you can get the data you want in the format you want without doing any of the work!
Easy to understand — because that’s the whole point! If everyone could easily pick up a profit and loss statement, do math in their head, and pick out the important stuff without thinking, then we wouldn’t need dashboards! I’m a financial nerd and I don’t even like looking at income statements. Dashboards should present that info in simple visuals that leave nothing to the imagination. If the KPI is up, there is most likely a green arrow pointing up next to it. Showing those indicators, and trends, and other visuals makes data feel a lot less like data and therefore a lot more understandable.
Easy to use for decisions because looking at data for the sake of looking at data is useless. That can lead to analysis paralysis (where there’s too much to look at), or in most cases… boredom! If the numbers you’re reviewing with your clients aren’t tied to a business goal, then they probably shouldn’t make the cut. These client performance dashboards should provide immediate info to a strategy or decision that you’re talking about. That could be as simple as revenue growth or something more complicated like marketing cost per acquisition but that metric has to be clear and tied to a decision that you want to help your client make.
How do you build a dashboard?
There are custom options that are fully web-based and automated (we do that at Pineapple Consulting Firm), but most software that you and your client use will have a default summary in some dashboard format. It won’t be perfect, or exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s already included and can get you started! Let that be your initial step into the data-driven world and then add into it.
Building one on your own can be a bit more challenging, but you can start simply in Excel.
Take that consistent CSV download of info we talked about earlier, make it into a Pivot Table, and you’re halfway there! From that, you could make some Pivot Charts (Excel defaults that for you) to better visualize the data, and you can also create some simple formulas like Feb Revenue / Jan Revenue -1 = Month over Month growth!
It may not be the prettiest thing, but any picture that summarizes the data like that will provide incredible value to you and your client. Make it simple to update with new data, and make a simple visual out of it and you’ll be well on your way! It’ll make such a big difference, you might get hooked and want to create more visuals.
It just makes things more understandable, and allows you to be data-driven, even if both of you hate data.
Client Dashboards lead to better client conversations
Leadership, culture, and qualitative conversations are very important – we’re not here to change those.
Performance-based conversations are infinitely more meaningful and actionable when there is data behind the conversation, and the best way to get data into the conversation is to have it in dashboard format. It’s simple to understand, easy to use, drives decisions, and gets everyone on level footing to have an informed, strategic conversation about your client’s business.
About the author
Jack Tompkins is the owner of Pineapple Consulting Firm and is all about helping small businesses be more data-driven. He and his team use dashboards (of course) to help that, and assists as fractional (outsourced) analysts for anything from a simple Excel tool to a fully automated and web-based dashboard. It’s more fun than you think and more impactful than you can imagine!