This Week’s Big Deal: Straightening Out Your Sales Data

February 3, 2020

For sales teams, scarcity of information was once a major pain point. Now we have the opposite problem. 

We are awash in sales data, pertaining to all elements of our operations. The data comes from a host of different sources, and we store it in a dizzying array of databases.

This presents a challenge, especially for those of us who might not consider ourselves avid number-crunchers. We don’t want to overlook or set aside valuable data. But understanding just where, when and how to best use what we have is no simple task. 

When sharing his 2020 advice for sales leaders last month, SPARXiQ’s VP of Sales Enablement Mike Kunkle asserted that making evidenced decisions, based on concrete information, should be a key strategic priority. “We have to reduce guessing and increase data-driven approaches to performance improvement,” he argued. 

In line with that guidance, let’s explore what folks around the web are saying about sales data and analytics.

Putting Sales Data to Work

A newly released report from Gartner finds that “42% of sales leaders rate their sales analytics ROI as significantly higher than expected.”

“As more organizations successfully use analytics for areas such as skills development and sales force sizing, the sales teams that truly succeed will be those that leverage analytics across the entire function — including quota setting, territory planning and territory design,” said Craig Riley, senior principal analyst in Gartner’s Sales practice, in a press release.

That’s just one insight among many that points toward an increased urgency for growing the impact of informed decision-making. Here are some areas of opportunity, drawn from the latest trending sales content.

Let Sales Data Drive Sales Enablement

Brainshark recently published a great article on The Explosion of B2B Sales Data in Sales Enablement. It attempts to address a fundamental issue: “Sales enablement has a data problem. It's all about ramping up sales reps and improving performance over time. But sales rep data is all over the place.”

The author makes a case for centralizing and organizing sales rep data through tools like CRM, cadence tools, and conversational intelligence platforms. Whichever methods and software you deem best, the key for sales leaders is to gain a comprehensive view of each rep on the team, so as to provide customized and meaningful guidance that moves the needle. Brainshark and Rekener recommend implementing a sales rep scorecard system.

Bottom line? It’s time to start moving away from spreadsheets for tracking all this info.

Let Sales Data Drive Relationship-Building

Our latest episode of “Live with Sales Leaders” zeroes in on a critical subject: building trust in relationships that already exist. We frequently emphasize on this blog the importance of continuing to serve and delight customers after they come aboard, and there’s a lot of good advice to be found in these conversations.

One tidbit that stands out is Dan Gottlieb’s point about using data to avoid friction when key contacts (or “champions”) exit the company. “The best reps rarely get surprised even when they are surprised,” says the analyst for TOPO’s Sales Development practice. 

To stay in front of such developments, sales reps can proactively set up alerts and triggers in Sales Navigator for their accounts, and also make sure those accounts are multi-threaded. The right data will facilitate these actions.  

Efforts to optimize sales data present yet another opportunity to solidify sales and marketing alignment. Modern marketers tend to be data-driven by nature, so it’s quite powerful to tap their brains when attempting to wrangle and leverage your sales data.

In the latest episode of Matt Heinz’s Sales Pipeline Radio show, he spoke with sales expert and author Lisa Magnuson. You can find a transcript of their conversation at Customer Think. The two cover a lot of ground, but this excerpt from Lisa stood out to me: 

“I remember a war room meeting that I was in just recently with a client going after a big opportunity and marketing was there and they were saying things like, ‘We did this analysis and that might be really valuable to the customer. We can customize it for the customer. You could bring that into your review with the customer.’ Things like that, that really make a difference. Those kinds of suggestions always come from marketing. That’s how they think. They think differently. They think about the markets. They think about trends. They think about analysis.”

That’s really one of the utmost benefits of integrating marketers more heavily with your sales operations: they bring a unique perspective. Not only does the marketing department likely have its own wealth of useful data, but can also help you think differently about data owned by the sales team.

Bring Your Sales Data into Focus

The first step in establishing a truly data-driven sales organization is to make sure the data you have is clean, clear, and up-to-date. LinkedIn’s Data Validation feature can lend a helpful assist on this front. Then, it’s about organizing all that data and turning it into useful insight. 

The three applications cited above — sales enablement, relationship-building, and marketing collaboration — are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways in which data can help sales teams innovate and grow. We look forward to exploring them here on the blog throughout the year (and decade), and hope you’ll join us for the ride. 

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