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The Power of the Median

No, I'm not talking about the strip between two lanes of a road, I'm talking about the statisitical median. The value that represents the middle point in a set of numbers where half are higher and half are lower. For years, if you wanted to look at the median value of a set of numbers in Salesforce reporting, you had to export the report and do external calculations to find the median.

Tucked into the Summer '22 Salesforce release is this little nugget: Summary Functions Now Include Median.

Salesforce Median in Summary Reporting
Salesforce Median in Summary Reporting

This simply means that in addition to sum, average, max and min, you now have median among your options to summarize a column of values in Salesforce.

What's the value of Median?

In business we're often talking about the average this or average that, but we much less often ask what is the median value. But there are good reasons to use median instead of average.

I like to look at median like this: when you have a bunch of values that are very unevenly distributed, the median is often a much better representation of the "typical" value than the average.

For example, if you are looking at opportunity values, the average could be significantly skewed by a few atypical large values, or perhaps some negative values representing returns. So the average value isn't a good representation of reality. Using the median allows you to get a midpoint value for all your opportunities: "half of our deals are larger than X and half are smaller".

Another statistic that can be very telling is the median age of closed-won opportunities vs the average. If you have some opportunities that are very old that finally close or many opportunities that are closed in 0 days, the median may help you get a better idea of the "typical" number of days to close than the average.

A great way to test the difference between the average and the median is simply to check both summary options for the column and see how different the calculated values are. If they are similar, then you don't have much skew in the average. If they are very different, then you do, consider looking at median.

Other useful ways to use the median instead of average include:

  • The median number of employees at your accounts

  • The median revenue of your customer accounts

  • The median number of products quoted on an opportunity

  • The median number of won opportunities by account in your org

In the past we might have tried to filter out extraneous values in our reports that skewed the average. With the addition of median that becomes less necessary. I've been looking forward to this feature for a long time, and I'm glad it's finally available. Give it a try and see for yourself the power of the median.



*As of April 2022, Pardot has been renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, as part of Salesforce's effort to organize all the marketing products under the same platform umbrella. "MCAE" is simply the same Pardot we know and love under a new name. The product is temporarily being referred to as "Marketing Cloud Account Engagement powered by Pardot."   

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