A sales organization is only as good as its sales reps. This couldn’t be more true with the current state of the world; we’re all looking for ways to keep the business moving forward and adjust strategies as needed.
Your best brainstorms, most vigorous whiteboarding sessions, and perfectly written sales playbooks don’t mean a thing if reps can’t get their arms around the strategies. This is particularly true when your average deal size is large.
My company, Infinidat, was founded in Israel in 2011 and grew very quickly both in the US and around the world. In the early days, Infinidat, unlike other emerging players, started by going after the biggest customers with the most complicated and demanding IT environments, even as we competed with much larger and more established players. Our sales reps don’t have a huge number of prospects to sell to, but rather focus their sights on high-value deals, adding complexity to both forecasting and the way in which we nurture leads down the funnel.
When you’re a high-growth private company that’s chasing whales, accurate sales predictions become even more imperative. You constantly have to increase the accuracy of your forecasts from the CEO on down to most appropriately direct your investments. This also means your sales process has to be as sophisticated as that of a public company — and that begins and ends with the reps.
Nine times out of 10, reps are faced with the exact same technology problems that stop the deal dead in its tracks: a lack of accurate data.
The Data Hygiene Problem
It sounds funny, but most companies have a data hygiene problem; their data hasn’t been cleaned in months, if not years! It’s ugly and it’s not accurate. And the CRM isn’t going to help.
CRM is definitely a necessary tool, but it was not designed to capture or clean data. By the nature of their job, reps are juggling multiple activities at once - meeting with clients, orchestrating internal demo teams, scouting future opportunities with their SDR, etc. The last thing they want to do is manually input data into a CRM.
So what happens? The data is either not there or entirely incomplete. And what happens after that? Your forecasts are not accurate. And that happens after THAT? The entire revenue team’s progress is impeded because no one knows what’s actually happening in the deal.
3 Ways to Empower Your Reps
As a sales leader, I’ve attempted to empower reps in three critical ways. And (surprise, surprise), each point is deeply rooted in data!
Here they are, in a very particular order:
1. Deliver Value
Whether you’ve invested in an AI-driven forecasting tool like Clari or simply want your reps to be more proactive about entering data manually, you will receive the most buy-in and activity if you are able to communicate the value for your reps. This means you have to explain what’s in it for them.
The pitch isn’t hard: the more accurate the data, the more accurate the forecast. The more accurate the forecast, the more accurate the commission — and so forth! Not to mention, it saves a ton of time which is good as gold to sales reps.
2. Set Clear Expectations and Keep Them Simple
Accurate and accessible data means you have the ability to identify and define success metrics down to the individual rep. This gives managers the opportunity to not only individualize coaching but also tie those KPIs back to larger revenue and company goals.
In my experience, when reps have a better understanding about how their day-to-day tasks fit into the larger picture, they're more motivated. Who doesn’t want to build something amazing that is bigger than themselves?!
3. Automate As Much Possible
Sales leaders need to be empathetic towards their reps and understand what they are up against. Most reps work extremely hard and want to spend the bulk of their time with prospects doing the work that matters most: actually selling. Free up their time to do this by eliminating inefficient data entry or manual processes. You’ll probably find that in addition to the reps having more time, they’ll also have an overall better morale because they feel more productive.
Keep these three steps in mind as you build out your sales rep KPIs and always look to data to help you solve new challenges that come up. As a good rule of thumb, seeking the most accurate data is always a good investment — one that will pay off for everyone from reps to the entire company.