I love to take complex numbers and ideas and pare them down to communicate a simple, accessible and actionable plan. Complex ideas come from a fundamental understanding of what drives the sales engine, what destination the leadership has in mind, and the necessary pit stops along the way. This article addresses the impact of simplifying each part of the sales journey.
There are many moving parts to the sales engine, and like the many makes/models of cars, they are all different. They share similar constructs, but because of different kinds of influencing drivers they are differentiated by their special features. The current construct that I am most familiar with is built on a team that starts with SDRs at the initial point of contact moving on to AEs who learn, nurture and develop client relationships (and provide necessary data throughout the selling process). The CRM team maps out those data fields building dashboards and reports on the findings which are then passed onto the leadership team for long term strategic planning.
This group is responsible for gathering the data, presenting it in all shades of color and interpreting the data in a way that results in an actionable plan. Are we focused on massive outreach campaigns to cast a wide net and gather a large amount of client data? Are we a targeted team seeking out only meaningful information from our key demographics? Or are we a laser focused/ industry specific team of consultative sellers looking to penetrate deep instead of wide in our marketplace?
The sales engine and the data drivers are determined by our initial approach as we go to market. Each role has a function in creating the data that establishes a baseline. Then the deciphering of that data validates (or invalidates) the methodology behind the operation of the sales engine and acts to define and eventually streamline the sales process. Companies with a nimble approach and understanding of how to let data influence strategic planning are at an advantage over reactionary companies who use scattershot tactics to achieve short term growth.
There are pros and cons when it comes to gathering data with people versus capturing data with technology. People make mistakes. Technology can be finicky when it comes to how it receives data. An approach must be chosen that blends the two, ideally with a system of checks and balances and a team to review the data consistently in a disciplined manner to ensure the highest quality. Some data in the form of leads is pre-loaded from the marketing team and then sorted into the pipeline. As the lead progresses to opportunity more information is added to the record. Mandatory data fields paint a picture of the client’s needs and their response to the sales process. The data reflects the success of marketing campaigns, lead nurturing, and detailed SDR and AE notes. The reports are built off of different process flows/data fields to highlight trends and define the standard sales cycle. As the process becomes more sophisticated the data becomes deeper and the richer analysis indicates the strengths/challenges of the sales process at all levels.
To hit the mark consistently there are three determining factors to consider when hiring anyone at any level of the sales process who will impact your numbers:
What do you love to do? To get where you want to go you must have passion for what you do. Passionate people pay attention to the details and understand all aspects of the processes that they are responsible for. People who are passionate about data and analytics on any level are a rare breed and these are the professionals who tend to see the big picture and go the extra mile for accuracy in reporting.
What are you great at? There is a big difference in doing something that you love and doing something that you are good at. Having an affinity for a particular skill that reflects your passion and sets you apart exponentially increases your potential to succeed. Having the “know how” when it comes to data gathering and interpretation isolates an in-demand skill set that can indicate a game-changing performer.
What is the biggest driver of revenue? Being the best at something that you love to do is a great start, but at the end of the day it is challenging to focus on that if it doesn’t generate revenue. Being able to contribute to the bottom line through the resource of analytics and interpretation makes you a valuable asset to any company.
Having any of these drivers is beneficial. Having them all is ideal (and rewarding on all levels). The place these three principles intersect is the where the ability to achieve greatness in big data lies.
At any point in your journey you should be able to pull reports and make informed decisions regarding performance, methodology, compensation, and contribution. This is where you make sure everyone is on the right seat on the bus and understand the importance of their specific contribution to the overall good of the company.
There are always new technologies and systems being created to expedite every version of the sales process. These must be weighed and carefully considered and only used if they can be customized seamlessly to accelerate the sales process.
Creating a culture that revolves around the importance of big data and the discipline to capture and record all of the pertinent information can be a game changer. Having a mixed bag on staff where some people do the detail work and other do not becomes a road block for accurate reporting. When employees from the top down buy into the importance of creating and managing accurate data the culture is energized by a singularly focused rigor for numbers. Those numbers paint a picture of the past, present, and future potential and pave the way for cultural understanding of the entire sales journey.
There are always people who know more than you out there and people who see the world in a different way. Accessing a peer group who open up your worldview will exponentially increase the effectiveness in your data driven role. Trends in gathering and deciphering information also lead to new discoveries along the way. Contributing to your peer group and sharing your perception of trends can lead to an overall better fundamental understanding of the importance of big data’s impact on your sales process.