Performance Management

Data Driven Sales: How Using Data Can Jump Start Your Team’s Performance


Say you’re buying a Powerball ticket. Which would you rather have: the right answer or a good hunch? Or let’s ask it this way: you’re a sales expert, and your company tasks you with shaping sales guidance for the upcoming quarter. You have to choose where to allocate resources between employee referral leads, online leads, and webinar leads.

Would you rather know which one produces the highest conversion rate, or just use your gut?

The Power of Data

Contributor for Entrepreneur Danny Wong pointed out a study which found in one instance that employee referrals “converted 3.63 percent of the time… compared to website leads, which had a 1.55 percent conversion rate. Webinar leads… converted at a meager 0.44 percent rate.” The conclusion: “the data showed that sales organizations should allocate more time toward sourcing, engaging and nurturing referrals from customers and employees.”

Now you may find yourself saying, well duh. But how many of us could so confidently intuit that approach before hearing those numbers? Without data, allocating more time and resources to employee referrals is just a hunch—albeit in this instance a surprisingly good one—but once we have data, we’re making an informed decision that takes surprise right off the table. And that power is available to you right now.

Quality > Quantity

There’s an endless library of articles and blogs out there about data, and almost as many folks trying to sell you bunk data science along with it. So be sure that your team isn’t jumping at the first mention of “data” you find. As Daniel Newman so aptly says writing for Forbes: “The only way to take full advantage of these tools is building a data-driven sales team, focused on quality data and growth.

The key there is quality data. Not all data is created equal. For starters, your employees don’t necessarily need the same data you do. While management might benefit from focusing on budget, your team might be better suited to see a leaderboard where they can engage in healthy competition—seeing how they matchup with other motivated sales leaders. What’s paramount is that you focus on data that you and your team can engage with and translate into immediate sales success.

Making Data Work For You

Easier said than done, right? As an in-depth analysis by Charles Atkins at McKinsey tells us, most companies—57 percent, to be precise—don’t see themselves as effective data-users.

But maybe it’s because we’re overcomplicating it. As it turns out, we don’t have to be using advanced analytics to be making better data-driven sales decisions. Instead, start with the basics.

As Atkins goes on to point out, “when sales-operations teams introduce basic analytics to sales planning, resource allocation quickly becomes far more effective.” He makes mention of one example where a tech organization used a “granular account and product-level approach to realign its US coverage model. Sales productivity rose 5 to 10 percent, and the sales staff cut its planning time by two-thirds.”

Start with the one or two areas in your organization where hard data can really make a difference—and then let that data work for you.

In the end, you’re not dealing with a lotto ticket, and you don’t have to rely on lucky numbers. The answers are there to be mined, it’s all just a matter of knowing where to look.