The art of sales has traditionally been a profession based on intuition and the power of persuasion. The best salespeople have been those with the human touch, who are able to easily engage prospects and quickly understand their requirements in order to identify whether they are a good fit and close the deal.
However, these time-old keys to success are eroding as data and technology change the sales game. Now, intuition is taking a back seat as sales data takes the wheel and drives. However, there is a valid reason for this change, as data increasingly helps businesses to quickly react to changes in the market, competitor activity, shifting customer preferences and demands of their own employees.
How to approach sales data
Data alone can be an intimidating prospect, especially for businesses that are new to analysing and interrogating data points. It’s important to understand that you don’t have to use every single metric, or closely track all the data your business racks up. How you approach data, therefore, is crucial.
A business’ sales data approach will be reliant on their business objectives, so first ensure that these are set up and define what you want your sales team to focus on. From there, a number of issues or questions will arise that you’ll need to address, such as the length of your sales cycle or the types of prospects you want to target. Considering these points will help you identify the types of sales metrics you’ll need to implement to meet your objectives and the types of data you need to track.
Data is therefore central to the success of the modern sales organisation, helping them to avoid prospects that will be a bad fit and identity new opportunities they wouldn’t previously have been aware of. As a result, sales leaders are able to take a targeted approach to new business and track how their sales team is impacting their company goals, while keeping down the cost of pursuing and winning clients.
The role of data-driven sales
Businesses can now collect and use specific sales metrics to inform all their sales decisions, from identifying lead prospects and managing their employees to reducing churn and establishing appropriate pricing.
This data-driven sales approach can also help salespeople become more productive, saving them time and energy of pursuing prospects that aren’t a good fit, and consequently, make your business more profitable.
In theory, this approach will drive several benefits to your organisation, but it will rely on implementing including the following:
1. Align your sales goals:
A data-driven sales team aligns on everything from major objectives to smaller everyday goals. It falls to the sales manager to communicate and implement these, and they should ensure the whole sales team is included in any planning or goal-setting meetings. Data will help the business to determine the sales goals that need to be pursued, how to go about doing that, and individual targets that salespeople need to hit.
2. Build a sales process:
Distinct sales processes define every good data-driven sales team. Implementing a repeatable set of actions for the sales team to follow and close new deals will help you to see which areas of your sales effort working and those that are struggling. Additionally, it will help you track KPIs and use data to prioritise areas for change and improvement.
3. Shape your strategy with existing data:
It’s important to remember to not only focus on new data but use the data you already hold. This can often be a goldmine of insights and ideas just sitting there waiting to be exploited. Be sure to involve your sales team on discussions about existing sales data and the strategies that should be deployed to garner this information.
4. Make sales data accessible
A CRM database is a vital tool in tracking prospect and customer activity, as well as automating tasks like following-up on emails and updating contact information. By replacing confusing, cluttered spreadsheets with useful, actionable sales reports, a CRM also assists in aligning sales teams and making sales data accessible.
5. Only engage with the right leads:
It’s important to only pursue potential new clients that would be a good fit for your business, and this task is made easier by a strong data-led approach. This can only be done by making use of the data that is collected and if salespeople understand which information they should look at to qualify and engage a new prospect.
6. Share best practices:
A key function of a data-driven sales team is to encourage salespeople to share best practices with each other. For example, if a salesperson has discovered a new approach that helps them get a great response from their new prospects, encourage them to share it with the team. It’s important for your sales team to share best practices, things that have worked well, and those that were less successful if your organisation is to grow in strength.
While intuition remains a key attribute for any good salesperson, it plays less of a role as data increasingly helps organisations to save the key resources of time, energy and money. Using data effectively can help you to streamline your sales process while maximising revenue and business growth.