The role of sales has never been more important. As technology like artificial intelligence begins to automate so many parts of the customer lifecycle, from advertising to marketing to customer service, the singular exclusion is sales. Sales requires a human touch – people buy from people.
That doesn’t mean sales can afford to ignore data, however. With the right combination of training, process, and technology, sales professionals will magnify their impact, multiply their closing rates, and drive massive growth.
Top Sales Data Challenges Today
Sales faces three key problems today:
- Sales professionals are rarely trained well on the use of technology, especially CRM software
- Sales processes around data are largely data focused instead of insights focused
- Sales CRM software and systems flood sales professionals with too much unhelpful data and not enough guidance
What happens when we fail to address these problems?
- Sales professionals extract less value and become frustrated, spending more time on overhead than selling
- Sales professionals either ignore process or half-heartedly engage, creating data havoc with incomplete information about opportunities, deals, and forecasts
- Software platforms end up being a serious drag on ROI rather than a booster
The cumulative impact of these problems is obvious. Lost productivity. Lost sales. Lost revenue. Lost growth.
Sales Data Solutions
To solve these problems, what must organizations fix and improve?
First, be ruthless in what sales data we share with sales professionals. What do they need to do their jobs well? What’s a distraction? This is a straightforward question to ask of every metric:
How will this data improve sales?
If the answer is unclear – or worse, counterproductive – then we don’t share the information. Depending on the answer to the question, we might even stop tracking that particular piece of data.
Once we obtain clear answers for how any given data improves sales, we build our training for sales professionals to explain that data in a three-part format:
- What the data is / what it means
- Why the data matters
- How we gather the data and how sales professionals should use it
For example, how important is a sales professional’s closing rate? For most sales teams, it’s one of the most vital pieces of information. Using our three-part format, we’d explain it as follows:
- Closing rate is the rate of deals won divided by total deals pitched
- Closing rate is how your success as a sales professional is measured; higher closers get better leads
- Closing rate is gathered from the data in our sales CRM, so be sure to keep your CRM data fresh and up to date
In this example, we explain what the data is, why it’s important, and how a sales professional impacts the data (and is impacted by it). We outline the data to be focused on by our audience – the sales professional – and what’s in it for them.
What if we have data where we can’t explain the what, why, and how? That’s an indication we didn’t choose it properly, that we aren’t clear about its value – and we should immediately stop and revisit the original question: “How will this data improve sales?”
This is the intersection of process and technology. If a system offers useful insights that no one uses, that’s a process failure on our part.
A critical flaw in most sales CRM systems and sales data systems is that they force sales professionals to adapt to how the systems want to work, instead of the systems adapting to how sales professionals want to work. The best way to handle this is to diagram our existing workflows. Once we know how our sales people work, we can choose a more appropriate vendor that matches how our firm works, instead of the other way around.
Sell Better With data
When we conquer the problems of people, process, and technology in sales data, we clear the path for significantly increased profitability, growth, revenue, and sales team happiness.