Revenue Operations

Don't Just Fix the Data Problem in Sales—Use It to Close More Deals

Michael Lowe headshot

Michael Lowe
Director, Content Marketing, Clari



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Stylized photograph of a hand holding a pen under an overlapping graphic of a bar chart
Stylized photograph of a hand holding a pen under an overlapping graphic of a bar chart

Data quality in sales is bad. In fact, it's downright sketchy. You know it. I know it. Sales teams have been dogged by dodgy data forever.

But why?

The reasons are actually pretty clear and, ironically, there's a lot of reliable data that shows what makes sales data so, well, unreliable.

The systems that were built "for sales" are like hungry beasts. They were designed to help keep track of selling and demand a lot of manual data entry to keep them updated. You constantly have to feed them by hand.

The recent State of Sales report by Salesforce estimates that sales reps spend only 34% of their time actually selling while the majority of their time is spent "not selling."

So what do they do with the remaining two-thirds of their time when they're not selling?

The sales activity data status quo

Most of the time, they're mired in administrative tasks like inputting sales data and customer notes. Activities like reviewing pipeline and conducting prospect research surprisingly take a back seat to everyday selling even though these are critical tasks for anyone trying to close business.

Ask any rep and they'll admit to entering into CRM the minimum data required to be left alone—and even that takes too much of their time.

This perennial data quality problem creates major obstacles to forecasting accurately and closing business:

  • Low sales productivity, not just on behalf of reps but also sales managers who are chasing deal data trying to understand what's going on and the status of deals
  • Huge blind spots and little insight into where there's risk and upside in the pipeline and what can be done about it for the entire revenue operations team
  • Inefficient processes, with 1:1s, QBRs, and forecast calls spent on tactically repeating facts and staging interrogations rather than strategically discussing how to move the needle to close business
  • Forecasts that are not dialed-in, taking too much time to roll up and often missing the mark, not just in week 6, but in weeks 10 and 12 of the quarter when getting the number right is critical

Give your sales team time back to sell

The solution for this age-old problem starts with automating activity data capture. After all, it's almost 2019 and the thought of asking sales reps to enter data feels more like 1975.

By automatically harvesting all of the data from reps' emails and calendars, including the contacts of people they're meeting with, and correlating it to opportunities and accounts, the data quality goes up and sellers get time back to sell.

By the way, automated capture capabilities go way beyond just email and calendar. There's a treasure trove of data in other business systems like your CRM, marketing automation platform, eSignature system, content management system, sales enablement, and others that can be used to provide insights about how your deals are tracking.

But getting the data is only half the battle. It's what you do with it that matters.

Three key benefits of connected revenue operations

Ideally, you want to convert all of that fresh, reliable data into actionable insights and embed it in all of your regular sales processes and revenue operations workflows like 1:1s, QBRs, and pipeline calls and campaign reviews. The idea is to drive better decisions, actions, and outcomes across marketing, sales, and customer success teams.

It's what we call connected revenue operations, and we've seen it change the game for business-to-business (B2B) companies large and small.

It gets everyone on the same page, aligned around the same data, processes, and KPIs. But it also gives reps, managers, and sales execs visibility and real insights that impact every decision they make about their deals and the number they are calling.

  1. Get on the same page. Clari makes collaboration simple with one platform serving as a single source of truth with all of the sales activity data in one place for the entire revenue team. That means that you make sure you're having the right conversations between the right people with the right data to support them, which leads to better decisions, actions, and outcomes across marketing, sales, and customer success teams.
  2. Identify risk and opportunities. Because everyone on the go-to-market team has a complete and accurate view of every sales activity and customer engagement, they can drive necessary actions against revenue goals. More specifically, they can identify opportunities that may need more love to close the deal or when to move on from unengaged prospects.
  3. Predict outcomes. Clari uses all of the sales activity and customer engagement data it captures to predict results and automatically roll-up forecasts, creating a culture of transparency and accountability. With a forecast they can count on, organizations can make critical investment and resourcing decisions to take advantage of opportunities and minimize the impact of downturns.