The role of the sales team has always been to develop relationships to strengthen the new business pipeline, and advances in technology have created an ever-increasing pool of resources to help organisations maximise sales and improve customer relationships.
Today, businesses understand that through social media, web analytics and customer prospecting, they are creating a goldmine of consumer data just waiting to be analysed. However, with so much data now available many businesses are finding themselves overwhelmed with information and don’t know where to start in terms of utilising it. Here are five ways enterprise sales teams can find the relevant data and use it as a guide for sales success.
Embrace the Unknown
The best sales professionals and their managers understand that they can’t predict the future and data analytics is not a crystal ball. Sales teams must be comfortable with the ambiguity that the sales process inevitably produces and should simply concentrate on constant improvement. When managing a sales pipeline, directors should be looking for patterns and weak links where past sales have fallen through, while also allowing for a relatively high level of variance at the beginning for potential risk factors.
Value High Quality data
An enterprise-wide commitment to a data-driven culture is necessary for buy-in and management should lead the charge to enforce best practice data collection. When it comes to data collection and the consequent decision making, businesses will reap what they sow. If bad data goes in, inaccurate information comes out, leading to poor decisions. To ensure the most accurate data is being collected, the entire sales force must be aligned and consistent in their data entry. Managers should always be evaluating their methods and investing in new tools that capture data automatically, such as wearable CRM tracking devices.
Collect Diverse Data Sets
In sales, it is impossible to predict what will make or break a successful quarter and the winds of fortune can change direction in an instant. The most experienced sales managers realise that nothing should be taken at face value. Everything can be broken down and segmented to look for specific clues into recipes for success. Data can be collected and analysed in an endless amount of ways, but no stone should be left unturned. Have you run correlation between overall revenue growth and personal sales standouts? Did a new team member with a new approach shorten the team's average sales cycle? Did last year’s extended dry season have an impact on numbers? Asking these types of questions, and searching for the best data to answer them, will help drive useful and actionable insights that make an immediate impact on top-line growth.
Build predictive models to Optimise Outcomes
While it’s critical to ensure that the data collected is as accurate as possible, the data alone is worthless. What really matters are the insights data can provide. In order to tap into the value of data and pull out diamonds of intelligence, it’s necessary to build models that predict sales outcomes while improving level of certainty and improving performance. Hypothesis-driven models can generate accurate potential outcomes and help managers and sales reps predict which prospects are worth pursuing. Be careful not to get too carried away by statistical analysis and predictive modelling. In short, aim for the least complex model that would improve the performance of the sales team.
Learn from Mistakes
Data is not an all-seeing-eye, but if organisations focus on constant improvement, sales teams will avoid falling into bad habits. Data shows managers the particular areas where sales are falling through, or prospects are mismanaged, and gives sales reps a chance to redeem themselves going forward. By studying each sales rep in the context of their specific sales pipeline, managers can pull insights that will help that rep improve quickly and dramatically. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for any team or individual sales rep, but data analysis gives business managers the chance to break down each employee’s performance into customised reports to identify strengths and weaknesses.
In our experience it’s best that enterprise sales teams adopt a data-driven culture rather than wait for a massive implementation of solutions. This is a step-by-step evolution for any sales team and shouldn’t be seen as a one-time event. By understanding that data collection tools, methods of analysis and even the information itself, will constantly be changing and evolving as time goes on, organisations will be well positioned to build a superior, data driven sales team that will ultimately deliver business success.