By Quique Nagle, CEO, Advisr.
Sales teams are drowning in data. The new challenge is acting on it.
For over a decade, companies have been trying to take a data-centric approach to sales strategy. The pandemic fast-tracked a decade’s worth of digital adoption in just a few months. Companies as diverse as Sinclair, Salesforce, and Siemens all moved to adopt self-serve and remote work models. In doing so they found themselves suddenly awash in new types of data. While this new data can be game-changing, acting on it has proven to be a challenge.
In the world of digital sales, every sales interaction is a data point. They sharpen the picture of customers, sales reps, products and markets. Yet, the amount of data now available is unmanageable. Orchestrating the sales tech stack to act upon this data deluge is a hurdle. Worst of all, separating the good data from the bad has also become more difficult. It’s estimated that up to 50% of CRM data is simply inaccurate.
The types of data now available to sales teams has moved well beyond the basics. Sales teams are no longer limited to capturing opportunity information at the point-of-sale. They can now access deeper data sets to more accurately gain insight into top-of-the-funnel activities.
“Eliminating uncertainty in sales is suddenly a real possibility,” says Todd Benedict, Chief Revenue Office at Aki Technologies. “Decision journeys have completely transformed during the pandemic. We now have the ability to understand those forces and, more importantly, act on that knowledge.”
This new level of data access has the potential to revolutionize sales strategy. It can also super-charge revenue growth. However, the challenges that prevent businesses from using this information are real. For most companies there’s rarely one platform that ingests all relevant stats and metrics. That means people and teams need to find ways to manually connect various data points.
Pipeline info typically relies on manual CRM inputs by sellers. As a result it’s often outdated, sand-bagged, or inaccurate. Sales leadership and rev ops have a hard time predicting and managing pipelines. It can take a person (or a team) weeks or even months to connect and analyze various metrics. By then the results are either obsolete or teams have missed an opportunity.
The Keys to Success
Omnichannel sales success depends upon efficiency, transparency, and command.
Efficiency means giving customers instant access to information and proposals however and whenever they want it. It also means solutions that match products with customer goals and objectives. It means solutions that surface benchmarks, comparisons and company-wide trends.
Transparency helps sales teams understand all of their options and the total value of a solution. This can be as simple as taking into account which products have achieved the best results. It also means understanding how sales people and products have fared regionally, by product and by peer group.
Command means understanding how solutions fit into a vertical. That means going beyond intuition, track records and anecdotal feedback to better understand the market or region. Sales people can then match products across the entire portfolio with customer goals and sales strategy objectives.
Sales teams need tools that surface information easily and without friction. Data must also be agnostic. Once captured, it has to be accessible and actionable for the entire sales organization, not just for a particular team or product. Finally, sales teams need insights surfaced quickly without having to go digging for them.
Above all else data needs to help sales organizations sell. Insights need to reflect an entire product portfolio. They need to match products with customer goals. They need to show which products have achieved the best results. And they have to provide a framework to inform and implement adaptations.
“Surfacing insights at the right time can make a huge difference ,” adds Todd Benedict. “Being able to tell a sales rep what budget or product combination has been successful for similar advertisers at the point of creating the proposal is extremely powerful.”
The urgency that companies feel around data is real. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Apple have all emerged as asymmetric competitors (and existential threats) across sectors. They create challenges for a variety of companies all over the world. They do this in part by marshaling data in B2B settings with more skill to achieve a greater impact.
Most businesses have now finally arrived at a point where real, game-changing sales data is available to all. Making sense of it and acting upon it is the crucial next step.