With the advancement of technology today, many business functions now have reams of data at their fingertips that can help them make better decisions and gain competitive advantage. But having data and knowing how to use it are two different things.
Developing a data-driven sales organization comes with its own set of challenges. While sales leaders and managers have always been driven by numbers, there hasn’t always been an easy way to create a single source of truth around sales performance and readiness data.
Today, scorecards present a new way to get a handle on sales data so everyone is on the same page. This technology goes beyond a typical dashboard to visually showcase data in context, making it easy for sales organizations to quickly evaluate their teams, diagnose problems and take action to improve their performance and readiness.
What is a data-driven sales strategy?
According to a report from Experian, 85% of organizations see data as one of the most valuable assets to their business. For sales organizations, a data-driven sales strategy means leveraging data and advanced analytics with the goal of making better decisions, more accurately evaluating reps and gaining more insight into sales performance and readiness.
This type of approach is so important because while many teams have the right data, they often have trouble making it actionable so they can leverage it to improve sales results. Oftentimes, sales teams are using the wrong data, analyzing it incorrectly or key stakeholders are all looking at different sets of data. All of this can make it tough for teams to develop the right strategies or formulate action plans when sales performance or readiness takes a dip.
Here are 5 benefits of adopting a data-driven sales strategy.
- Foster better collaboration between sales managers and sales enablement
- Establish consistency with sales metrics
- Develop benchmarks
- Improve sales onboarding, new product launches and other readiness programs
- Better retain reps by diagnosing problems earlier
#1. Foster better collaboration between sales managers and sales enablement
Ideally, sales managers and sales enablement teams care about the same end goal – closing more deals. However, day-to-day they might care about different metrics. Sales managers want to know about pipeline and the speed of the sales process. Sales enablement wants to know about skills development and learning progress across their sales readiness programs.
A data-driven sales strategy aims to get both parties to look at the same pane of glass when it comes to sales metrics. This approach eliminates any debate over whether metrics are accurate and gets everyone on the same page when it comes to decision making.
For example, with scorecards, a sales manager can quickly see that three reps on his team scored low on a new product course. A sales enablement leader can look at the same scorecard, make the same observation and review the new product course to ensure that it’s hitting the right notes – and then nudge the sales manager to have those reps take the course again.
#2. Establish consistency with sales metrics
Many sales organizations track tons of different metrics but at the end of the day, your leadership probably cares about a select few.
By visualizing data in scorecards, you can regularly track the metrics that matter most to your sales team – and most importantly, easily report on the ones that sales and company executives will ask about.
For example, when executives ask for an update, scorecards allow you to bypass complicated CSV files and clunky BI tools. You can easily pull the data they’re requesting and provide them with a visual representation that’s easy for them to understand. Plus, you don’t have to be a data expert to pull the right data and tell the right story.
#3. Develop benchmarks
A lot of sales teams struggle to define ‘what good looks like’ when it comes to sales metrics and results. Either they don’t have the right historical data, or they have the data but don’t know how to utilize it properly.
For example, by setting up a scorecard to compare cohorts of new sales reps who onboarded at different times, you can begin to establish benchmarks. Let’s say you’re tracking completion rates and scores across all onboarding courses and coaching activities; over time you’ll be able to see what a good completion rate and a good score look like. Then you can conclude whether your onboarding program is improving – or whether you need to perform an audit and adjust it in certain areas.
#4. Improve sales onboarding, new product launches and other readiness programs
Sales enablement teams might feel good about the learning and coaching they’re putting forth to sales reps; however, without real data showing if programs are effective, that’s purely anecdotal.
Data can be visualized in a scorecard for whatever readiness programs you’re running – onboarding, new product launches, etc. – and you can drill down by individual, team, course, curriculum and more. It’s also easy to spot trends, such as whether multiple reps are falling behind or scoring low in certain areas.
For example, if you notice that reps aren’t completing or scoring well in courses across multiple competitive intelligence curriculums, you may want to take a closer look at your content. If it turns out that the courses are too technical and missing key value statements, you can go back and update those areas in hopes that reps will perform better in the future.
#5. Better retain reps by diagnosing problems earlier
Sales rep retention is a huge challenge because most of the time, when a rep is about to leave an organization, it’s already too late.
Having consistent, actionable data within scorecards allows you to identify skill gaps and take action before it’s too late. For example, if a rep has failed his last three courses on critical sales skills, you can quickly alert his manager and have them schedule a coaching session to review those courses. This way, you can get out in front of the potential issue before it impacts sales results – and ultimately causes the rep to leave your company.