Historically, sales leaders relied on their gut to tell them whether a deal was going to close or not. Similarly, some account executives were deemed better than others, based on their personality, not their statistical performance. New sales data has changed the game, revealing management’s clearly biased opinions, which were not productive in driving the business forward.
That’s why sales teams that use the right data tools have an advantage over those that don’t: they’re relying on facts, not feelings and measuring the activities that produce results. As a veteran tech investor, I have witnessed this evolution in sales management over the last five years, which I detail in my recent interview on The Forecast.
Data offers us insights into customer behavior. Understanding customer activity patterns allows revenue teams to understand what sales actions to respond with in order to achieve a higher win rate. Watching the data coalesce around buying process trends, here are my suggestions for the top three activities teams should focus on in 2021.
Lean into product-led growth
Global data tells us that the customer discovery process is becoming longer. Prospects are conducting more thorough research on products before they talk to a sales rep. So sales leaders need to pay close attention to this so-called product led growth.
When you know that your customer wants to do their due diligence, you should help them do so. Don’t constantly hover over their shoulder, but do understand where they are in the process so that when the time is right for them to buy, you are ready.
That’s where artificial intelligence and machine learning come in. Today’s business can closely track your product and how the customer is behaving with the product, such as how many times they visit the website and what pages they read. Based on that activity, you can understand when you should connect with them. This makes the buying experience more enjoyable for the customer, who doesn’t feel the pressure of being “sold” to.
Measure virtual sales effectiveness
Gone are the days in which AEs typically meet with prospects in person and form that bond. We are all virtual for the foreseeable future, which means our sales pods are virtual.
Sales professionals must, of course, find meaningful ways to bring customers together in a virtual environment. Then, managers must measure the productivity of these meetings, which means agreeing on the key progress indicators.
Using AI to measure sales rep activity data can be very effective. Since we can no longer rely on previous (in-person) metrics, many sales leaders are measuring rep activity, such as the velocity of phone calls, emails, and meetings set. These have become the best indicators of progress, and look to stay that way.
Build a revenue operations infrastructure
Annual recurring revenue is imperative to SaaS business growth, and this type of business model has made inroads to other industries, too. The idea that your customers will continue to buy from you month after month, year after year, can promote phenomenal revenue growth—as long as you track the right activity data.
In a subscription model, customers can leave at any moment. You must continuously monitor their activity and ensure customers are optimally successful. Again, having the right data matters.
If your customers aren’t using the product often and to its full potential, they may be at risk of churning. This is why having a revenue operations infrastructure has become a must-have for SaaS businesses. Having this continuous loop of data keeps marketing, sales, and customer success informed about the customer life cycle and where the weak spots may be. When these departments partner with customers and review the same customer data, the probability of renewals, cross-sell, and upsell becomes much higher.
As you build out your revenue operations engine, define the metrics that matter most among your sales, marketing, and customer success organizations. This will help you respond to your customer activity more efficiently and effectively.
The future of sales growth is activity data
Trusting your gut just won’t cut it in today’s environment. Using data to measure meaningful customer activity and the corresponding activity of your sales team makes for a more profitable and more scalable business.
Interested in more episodes of The Forecast?
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- How to Prepare Your Pipeline for IPO by Steve Fitz, Chief Revenue Officer of Sumo Logic
- Future Proofing Your Sales Team by Samantha DeStefano, VP of Enterprise Sales at Upwork
- Building a Remote Structure for the Future of Sales, by Daniella Bellaire, Head of Sales, Shopify Retail