All sales managers want to develop their teams and help each salesperson reach his or her fullest potential. Good sales managers are always looking for ways to help more people perform like top players, but often they struggle with identifying the causes of underperformance. Traditional approaches—like listening in on calls or reviewing emails—take a tremendous amount of time, are not scalable and often do not identify the actual problem. The good news is that this inability to uncover problems is fading: big data is coming to sales performance management.
The root challenge that managers have had is figuring out what the “B” players need to do to become “A” players. To paraphrase Tolstoy, each unproductive salesperson is unproductive in a unique way. Even when people are trying hard and putting forth the effort, there can still be a variety of factors that are holding them back. To give them the right coaching and encouragement, a good sales manager must first identify the specific thing that they are doing wrong.
Unfortunately, this level of insight and visibility is nearly impossible to uncover; managers who look for answers in their CRM system consistently find that the data isn’t there. Furthermore, looking at activity metrics like calls placed and emails sent is even less informative. This is where big data solutions for sales organizations will make all the difference.
Big data has enabled three things that will change how managers view their salespeople, as well as how salespeople view their own work.
Big data sales management solutions will change the way managers look at their teams. At Enkata, we’ve already seen several examples of lessons learned that would have been nearly impossible to discover any other way. In one case, a newer lead gen associate was working very hard, but not seeing results. Although the salespeople were doing the same activities, using the same templates and reading the same scripts, it was clear that team members who had been around longer had a much higher hit rate.
The difference turned out to be something simple: the more experienced reps were changing the subject lines in their emails to highlight a specific bestselling product. The newer reps, trained on the whole product line, hadn’t learned that this “hero” product was driving most of the inbound interest. As hard as the new salesman was working, it might have taken months for him to figure out the impact of this small text change.
We have also found a number of other problems that would have been impossible to see without the right data. For instance, enterprise representatives who get single-threaded on complex accounts, transactional salespeople who disqualify opportunities too quickly or small business sales reps who invest too much time working with non-responsive accounts. Once these skill gaps are identified with a sales data management platform, they can be easily corrected.
Sales is an art as well as a science. Big data software won’t help people who can’t learn how to ask the right questions or are unable to build trust with clients. But many sales limitations stem from a lack of insight, or possibly a lack of discipline, and these are easily correctable with big data software for sales teams.
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[Image courtesy of Nic McPhee]