Chief Revenue Officers and experienced sales leaders often say that their most important job, after getting the right people in the door, is to coach them. After all, sales managers at high-performing organizations spent more time coaching than at average or low-performing organizations.
But, often due to incomplete or missing sales activity data in CRM, managers have to spend their days sifting through spreadsheets, making sure numbers match, and interrogating reps—time that can be far better spent discussing strategies and plays that reps can run to close deals.
And while we're on the topic of time, guiding reps to know when to cut bait and focus on deals that are more likely to close is just as important in driving higher sales productivity. Sales activity data not only provides visibility into the health of deals; it can also be used to create activity benchmarks so that managers know what it takes to get the rest of the pack to become high performers.
But here's the ugly truth: Nearly half of managers spend less than 30 minutes a week coaching reps on skills and behaviors. A common reason for coaching taking a backseat is that the manager simply doesn't have the time. Between managing a sales team, reviewing metrics and pipeline, and forecasting the business, finding time to coach can become a challenge. Managers that have access to reliable sales activity data can do a better job at coaching and developing high-performing teams.
So what exactly is sales activity data, and how can it help front-line sales managers do their jobs better?
What is sales activity data?
Sales activity data is a compendium of everything that sales reps do when pursuing opportunities as well as the engagement of the prospective clients with these activities.
Sales activity data include:
- emails sent or received by sales reps
- meetings (face-to-face or virtual) among reps and clients or prospects
- files and content sent to clients
- phone calls between reps and clients
- prospect engagement with marketing campaigns and much more.
It lives in multiple business systems that make up your sales and marketing tech stack including CRM, email and calendar platforms, marketing automation systems, phone, conversational applications, and more.
Sales leaders can look at this information to determine the true status of a deal. For example, if they see that a rep has sent numerous emails back and forth with a client and the client has opened several attachments within those emails, as well as attended several meetings with the rep, the sales leader can ascertain that the deal is progressing well and is on target to close, therefore no need to spend time discussing it. On the other hand, lots of email activity from the rep with no response from the prospect might require more attention and support from the manager to see if the deal has legs and what can be done to accelerate it.
Sales activity data gives both reps and managers complete visibility into each deal and what to do about it. As managers, it can also help you coach and hire. Here's how:
How clear, accurate, and complete sales activity data improves coaching
When pieced together, sales activity data provides a snapshot of sales reps' activities leading up to a closed won deal. That's why Clari automatically captures and logs every sales activity and customer engagement signal and associates it with the right account and opportunity. This allows sales leaders to hold more productive 1:1s with their team in the following scenarios:
Provide concrete, data-driven examples
By identifying patterns of activity among top reps—such as sending a certain number of emails every day or responding to incoming emails within a specific timeframe—managers can set benchmarks for the rest of the team. This also allows managers to create easily identifiable goals, reward success, identify reps who are struggling, and provide concrete, data-driven examples for how to improve.
When managers have a bird's eye view into a rep's aggregated sales activity (as presented in Clari's Team Activity tool, sorted by rep and/or target account), they can quickly identify decreases in production in real time. If activity shows steep drops, that may be a sign that a rep is losing motivation, checked out, or other issues. Sales activity automation can help managers identify and address any concerns before it's too late.
When managers have hard data to reference, it makes it easier for them to coach because they can point to the numbers. This helps strip the conversation of emotions or bias and allows managers and reps to have objective conversations over selling strategies or next steps. A recent article in Forbes pointed out that one of the five elements of effective feedback is that it has measurable objectives—with hard data.
When managers know what is working for their sales team, they can look for those qualities and traits when hiring. Transparent sales activity data gives managers the ability to identify traits in sales effectiveness and incorporate them into job descriptions. For example, if they know that top reps are sending out a certain number of emails every day, managers may adjust their job descriptions to include some of those skills.
How to capture sales activity data
So, we all agree that sales activity data is important, but here's the other problem: Historically, access to this valuable data requires that reps spend time manually entering it, which is not a recipe for success.
Capturing every contact, every meeting, and every email exchanged with a prospect takes painstaking amounts of time that sales teams just don't have. The reality is that reps don't put sales activity into the CRM. At least not enough of it. They're spending their time selling—and who can blame them?
So what's the solution? Find out more ways to capture your sales activity data.