Surface Better Insight from Your Sales Pipeline Data

October 13, 2016

Analytics Demystified, Dashboards Reporting and Visualizations, Data Preparation, Salesforce Reporting, Tableau

Capture, Calculate and Track Hard-To-Find Key Leading Indicators

Effective executives rely on leading indicators of sales revenue — such as pipeline growth and win rates — to keep their fingers on the pulse of company performance.

Many firms have invested in sales pipeline tracking systems such as Salesforce and visualization tools such as Tableau to surface leading indicators to their executives. However, if you are connecting your visualizations directly to your CRM system, you are missing some of the valuable indicators.

The solution is a “staging database”—an intermediary between the two systems that transforms the data and surfaces all the information organizations need for early, high powered performance visibility.

Senturus explains how to capture, calculate and track the hard-to-get leading indicators, such as:

  • The components of pipeline growth:
    • Growth from new opportunities
    • Changes to the value of existing opportunities
    • Changes to the win-probability of existing opportunities
  • Conversion rates for each stage of the sales cycle
  • The marketing metrics that lead to new pipeline
    • Individual lead score trend
    • Marketing engagement trend

This information is most valuable to B2B organizations, those having sales teams entering and tracking multi-stage sales cycles in an opportunity database. The “how to” examples feature Tableau and Salesforce, but we explain how the techniques are useful even if you use other tools.


Tableau, Salesforce, CRM


  • Executives who want to ensure all the sales indicators are being surfaced
  • Business analysts interested in expanding their data capture and transformation techniques
  • Members of the business analytics teams who are tasked with providing forward visibility
  • Technologists who want to increase the business value of their systems


Greg Herrera 
President and Co-Founder
Senturus, Inc.

Greg founded Senturus in 2001 and today leads the demand creation side of the company. Under his leadership, the company has been on Inc. Magazine’s annual list of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for three years running. In addition, Senturus was inducted into the San Francisco Business Times “Fast 100” Hall of Fame. Greg has 13 years of hands-on experience with Salesforce and the application’s underlying tables.


  • Leading Indicators
    • Measure performance that has already happened
    • Financial statements: revenue, gross margin, profit
  • Leading Indicators
    • Indicate the direction of in-course performance
  • Lounging Indicators
    • “… will be leaving the company to spend more time with family”
  • Leading Indicators – What’s Missing?
  • Leading Indicators of Revenue
  • 4 Ways Companies can Increase Revenue
    • Increase the number or value of deals in the pipeline (pipeline growth)
    • Improve their rate of success (win rate)
    • Close bigger deals (average deal size)
    • Increase the velocity of the deals moving through the pipeline, such as shorten the sales cycle (time to close)
  • Pipeline Growth in 3 Ways
    • New deals entering the pipeline (new deal)
    • Existing pipeline deals changing size (value change)
    • Existing deals changing stage (stage change)
  • Contextual Attributes – What’s Missing?
  • Leading Indicators Have Leading Indicators
    • The conversion rate (probability) for each stage should be calculated from empirical data contained in historical pipeline snapshots and historical wins
    • Marketing automation systems (Pardot, Marketo) track interactions with behavior scores
    • Integrates to CRM systems, such as Salesforce, that update contact’s records with behavior score — more interactions lead to more new deals entering the pipeline
  • Sales Pipelines are Current Snapshots
    • In Salesforce and most other CRM systems, sales pipeline tracked in an opportunity table, which maintains only the current values
    • Win rate, average deal size and time to close are calculations of closed deals (date and value of the transaction is known)
    • The date and value of pipeline growth transactions is not known from this table
  • Contrast: Pipeline Balances Monthly Snapshot
  • Contrast: Pipeline Growth from Same Pipeline!
  • 1-Derive Transactions from Snapshot Differences
  • 2-Derive Transactions from SFDC Opp History
  • 3-Derive Transactions from SFDC Opportunity Field History
  • Use Similar Techniques for Interaction Trends
    • Marketing automation systems (e.g. Marketo) integrate with CRM Systems (Salesforce) and push Behavior Score balances several times per day
    • Derivation technique 1 can work with any combination of marketing and CRM systems to derive Behavior Score transactions
    • Derivation technique 3 can be configured in Salesforce
  • Behavior Clusters as Leading Indicators of Purchase
  • Dashboard and Analysis Tips
    • Good dashboard practice says to use auto-refresh relative time periods instead of having to specify date ranges
    • Leading indicators enable in-course corrections, so frequent (daily) updates are valuable
    • Many sales organizations experience quarter-based seasonality in their pipeline growth
    • For these organizations, look at pipeline growth across 91-day periods (quarter of a year)
  • Considerations when Averaging Pipe Growth (1)
  • Considerations when Averaging Pipe Growth (2)
  • Considerations when Averaging Pipe Growth (3)
  • Demo Using Tableau
  • Takeaways
    • Ideally pull your CRM pipeline data into the data warehouse or sales data mart
    • Next best interim situation is to pull it into a staging database
    • In these databases you will be able to do the transformations and contortions that surface the missing leading indicators
    • Pipeline growth transactions provide much better visibility than pipeline balance snapshots
    • Need to know not just where you are, but how you got there
    • Valuable marketing interactions which lead the leading indicators can be surfaced by similar techniques