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August 26, 2015
Foundations of Data-driven Selling: Act
During our “Foundations of Selling” series, we’ve talked about collecting the right data and analyzing the data. But here’s the rub: without action, all that data and analysis is a waste. (Sorry if I’ve just insulted a few thousand analysts!) We can have data and brilliant analysis out the wazoo, but unless we do something to grow the business, we’re not sales pros. So let’s dig into converting insight to action.
First, what action do we care about?
Sales teams have two jobs: call the number and make the number. Breaking it down by role, it’s even clearer: give execs deal insight to forecast more accurately, let managers jump into deals to coach reps and allocate resources, and help reps do more of what works (and a boatload less data entry!).
How should data-driven selling help?
1. Every forecast change means something happened (or didn't happen!) in the field.
But as sales leaders get more senior and further from daily selling, it’s harder to be confident about deals and what they need. Sure, your forecast has your “management judgement,” but what info feeds that judgement when new deals join the pipeline daily and reps rarely update current deals? The data-driven approach is different: add predictive analytics to better CRM data and expand on that with new visibility into rep activity from their real source of truth — their email and calendar. Data science can even point out deals at risk. Your experience plus data-driven insight into deal strength means more accurate forecasts in less time.
2. For most managers, 1:1s with reps are hours of play-by-play."The meeting was last week, the VP didn’t show, I sent a proposal….” Strategy sessions need more strategy. With the right data, clearly presented, managers can cut the play-by-play and turn up the coaching. When sales managers know how their reps are performing, from real-time deal updates to frequency of emails and meetings to win rates, they can guide reps to higher close rates and faster sales cycles. Typically, data-driven managers coach more effectively on:
- Prioritization: Focus on the deals that matter
- Support: Know when the team needs guidance … or resources
- Collaboration: Keep the team on the same page to add efficiency and cut rework
- Speed: The unending goal — drive more revenue with less selling time
3. Sales reps just want to sell.
Anything that slows them down is an obstacle to a contract ... and commission. And hurts their region. By automatically capturing rep and customer activity on deals, reps don’t waste time updating the CRM and managers get better deal info instantly. Data-driven systems can even become sales assistants: proactively gathering prospect data before a meeting or letting reps know which promising prospects are overdue for a call. Data is the new key to reps having more time to sell. And making selling time more effective. Data science-driven selling is about results.
And the results you’re measured on are pretty clear: Call the number. Crush the number. Nothing else matters. Only when you collect the right data can feed advanced analysis. Only the right analysis gives you useful insight. And only with that insight can you act — quickly, decisively, confidently. If you missed my comments on Collect and Analyze, follow those links or give me a shout. The minute you embrace Collect, Analyze, Act, you’ve got the foundation for a successful data-driven sales organization.