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10 Answers Every CEO Needs to Get from Their Data

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

As a CEO, your data is one of the best places to find answers that support smart business decisions. It’s where you turn to find areas of risk and opportunity and make the most of what you’ve worked so hard to build.

But what are the most critical questions to ask with your data? When we work with CEOs, here are the top things they need to know as they turn data into Business Intelligence.

#1 Are customers feeling good about doing business with my company?

Category: Customer satisfaction

A sustainable business model can only be built around a customer-focused brand. A customer satisfaction score is a good place to start with analyzing your satisfaction status. Maybe you send out an annual survey to collect data. Perhaps you use Net Promoter Score. With a good baseline in place, you can refine and analyze your data and use it to take action.

Next level questions:

  • Does the way we measure customer satisfaction provide the full picture? Should we add more sources like social listening to gauge customer sentiment?

  • Are we managing and responding to ALL Google reviews?

  • How often are we checking in with customers? Are we actively seeking to find out about customers’ negative experiences or are we just looking for the positive feedback?

  • Is our customer satisfaction data helping us identify at-risk accounts? Do we have an action plan to follow up with customers who are at risk?

  • How about rewarding and recognizing our best customers and turning them into champions for our brand?

#2 Are my employees feeling good about working here?

Category: Employee satisfaction/engagement

Your internal customers (employees) are just as critical as your external customers. All high-performing businesses have highly engaged employees. As you dig into your employee engagement data, you’ll identify additional ways to put your company culture in action and reduce areas of friction for workers.

Next level questions:

  • Are we actively and consistently seeking feedback from employees? Do we have a blend of objective and subjective feedback?

  • Does how we measure satisfaction correlate with performance? Is that performance aligned with company goals? Are we incentivizing the right behaviors?

  • How are our managers performing? Do we need to invest in more leadership training for them?

  • If we lose at-risk employees, how will this impact ongoing operations? How will this impact our customers? How will it impact growth potential for the business?

  • How long will it take to fill those open positions? What will it cost?

#3 How much revenue is coming into my business?

Category: Revenue & revenue growth rate

Current and future revenue is the baseline of health. Poor or declining revenue is the key indicator of an underperforming company and certainly opens the door to many questions about how to improve everything from solution/market fit to competitive advantage. But revenue growth can pose its own set of challenges for CEOs. So, visibility is vital to know how to prepare for success.

Next level questions:

  • How fast is revenue increasing? Does customer acquisition need to scale for us to maintain a healthy growth rate?

  • If we set a revenue target, do we know what it will cost in time, money, and other resources to reach it?

  • Is it time to invest in more marketing, sales, and business development?

  • How can we maximize revenue from existing customers? Are we taking advantage of upsell and cross sell opportunities?

#4 What is it costing me to run my business?

Category: expenses & expense growth rate

Every unnecessary dollar spent is a dollar of profit lost to your business. It’s no wonder so many CEOs want to see how their money is being allocated. This doesn’t mean you need to pore over every line item on every invoice. But being able to rein in runaway spending is a key to keeping your business lean and strong.

Next level questions:

  • How fast are our expenses increasing? Is this in line with or outpacing revenue growth?

  • What areas of spending seem out of proportion to the value being derived?

  • When are vendor agreements up for renegotiation? As we grow, should we be getting discounted rates with suppliers based on a higher overall spend?

  • Are there any big capital expenses coming up (such as new equipment needed to reach the next level of operational growth)?

  • What outside factors (fuel costs, new regulations) are increasing expenses? If we can’t control these factors, can we mitigate the impact by reducing expenses in other areas?

  • Are there any suspicious trends or anomalies in expenses that warrant deeper investigation?

#5 How long could I keep the doors open if no more money was coming in?

Category: Cash flow runway

This one can be a scary question, but it’s one that a LOT of companies have faced in the last couple of years with so much disruption in the market. Knowing your buffer means you can be realistic about what to do if things go sideways.

Next level questions:

  • How accurate are our cash flow projections? Are we being realistic and taking into account the typical payment history of each customer?

  • What options do we have for accessing more working capital on short notice?

  • Do we have a plan in place to cover payroll in an emergency?

  • What actions could we take to stretch our cash flow to cover more time? What efficiencies could we add to our current operations?

#6 How much money are we really making?

Category: Net profit

High revenue doesn’t necessarily mean healthy profitability. You’ll notice this when no matter how hard you and your people work, there’s not more money to do the things you want. When you know your net profit, you can start finding the ways to improve profitability even before you grow your revenue.

Next level questions:

  • Where can we make processes and operations more efficient to reduce waste?

  • Can we use automation in any of our workflows to free people to put more time into high-value activities?

  • How can we improve the perceived and actual value of our products/services to command a higher price in the market?

#7 How much profit does each customer bring me?

Category: Profit per customer

Some customers are great for your business and some are more trouble than they are worth. It’s no coincidence that the least profitable customers are often those who are impossible to satisfy. Knowing what makes a customer a good fit for your business helps your team take strategic action to attract and land more of the same (and keep the best customers you have).

Next level questions:

  • Do we rely on a few big clients for most of our profit? How can we diversify?

  • What types of customers tend to have the best lifetime value?

  • Which ones are easiest to land and keep happy?

  • Which ones tend to stay the longest, spend the most, and pay on time

#8 Where is my new business coming from?

Category: Leads by source or revenue by source

If you can’t tell what’s working in bringing in new customers, your team can’t act effectively to do more of the right things for business growth. For many small businesses, word of mouth, direct selling, and networking for business development are key drivers. Marketing enters the mix as well, and this can be a particularly difficult area to track. Between digital, print, paid, organic, social, and all the other options available, knowing what is working is critical. Lack of visibility often leads to under or overspending and makes it impossible to figure out a clear long-term strategy.

Next level questions:

  • Can we attribute leads and new business to a specific marketing or sales strategy? If not, what process or tech can we put in place to track this flow?

  • Are we following through on each marketing campaign long enough to get sufficient data to analyze?

  • Are we continuously tracking data so we can optimize sales and marketing activities?

  • Are we projecting our close rate accurately for sales forecasting?

#9 How much is it costing me to get each new customer?

Category: Customer acquisition cost

Good data visibility helps with managing the Sales and Marketing spend. You can’t hire your way out of a costly customer acquisition process. Instead, it’s important to build and optimize the RIGHT process, then hire more of the right people to execute. That way, you are preparing your team and your business for success.

Next level questions:

  • How much marketing spend does it take to get one qualified lead? What do we consider qualified?

  • Are we spending too much time and effort on following up with unqualified leads? How can we better qualify leads earlier in the process?

  • Are we losing prospects along the way due to missed steps in the sales process?

  • Is the onboarding process long and complicated for new customers? Can we streamline that process to reduce the operational burden?

#10 Am I on track to hit my business goals?

Category: Progress towards goals

This is the most personal question for every CEO. Your goals are going to be as unique as your business. Being able to customize your data reporting and visualization to show you at-a-glance where you stand is a great motivator. Being able to drill down to find what’s holding your company back is the key to accelerating progress.

Next level questions:

  • Is my team’s performance aligned with business goals in each department and across the organization

  • Do I have the right people in place to delegate execution?

  • Can I see the overall threat level and specific areas that are putting my goals at risk?

Are You Ready to Get Your Questions Answered?

Small businesses have a LOT of value hiding in their data. This insight needs to be visible in the form of Business Intelligence (BI). Reports can provide some information, but they require a lot of sifting and hunting to actually give you answers. A BI dashboard pulls all the most important indicators to the surface and lets you drill down into the details on your terms.

Building custom dashboards used to be expensive and time consuming. But at Teamworks, we deliver Data Visualization as a Service that makes it easy, fast, and affordable.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.


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