First, I recommend that you start simple, being brutally honest about energy involved in collecting and parsing data. Direct some of this brutal honesty to your board and investors: the finance people in this crowd are used to looking at data – and lots of it – and can ask for information that is very time consuming to put together. There are lots of great metrics to track – just make sure that you start capturing them when it makes sense to.
Second, develop a simple scorecard with key information that you will use to manage both up (investors and board), across (fellow senior executives) and down (sales team) and develop a system to update it regularly. The scorecard will capture things like:
1. Campaigns sent
2. Calls and emails made
3. Presentations executed
4. Opportunities created
5. Proposals sent
6. Deals closed
This data can be captured weekly in a Google document to start and then rolled up for composite quarterly views. You can use this document as a sales management tool, so that your team are focused on the metrics you care about. Unless it is drop dead simple, avoid using your CRM to report on data – none of the CRMs I have worked with over the years ever seem to present data in the way that my management team needs and/or are finicky and difficult to keep current.
Third, start tracking the relevant information and be religious about keeping it current – this data will be incredibly useful 6 – 12 months out, when you are figuring out what is working and what is not.
Now, as you scale, you will move from using spreadsheets to more sophisticated reporting tools (e.g. you may give your board access to dashboards in your CRM so that they can see data as it is captured.) and you will add to the data that you are tracking but the items noted above are a good place to start.
Simplicity, clarity and brevity are your friends.