Big Data Software for Sales: Help Your Salespeople Close More Deals
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.
Gaining Insights: A Sales Manager’s Biggest Challenge
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 Software for Sales Teams: Why It Matters
Big data has enabled three things that will change how managers view their salespeople, as well as how salespeople view their own work.
- Generate More Data. The first of these is the ability to pull in large amounts of unstructured data. The most important information in a sales organization is rarely what is found in the CRM, so sales management solutions are looking past the CRM into other data sources.
- Make Sense of Data. The second thing big data systems do is they organize and enrich existing data. Having data in a central repository is useless unless that data can be manipulated and arranged to make meaning. As an example, correlating phone, email and CRM data can create a picture of how engaged customers are, and will provide insight into which part of the pipeline salespeople are investing the most time. Big data software for sales teams often provides built-in, out-of-the-box reports that can draw useful insights from large amounts of data, enabling sales managers to make data-driven decisions.
- Convert Data into Insights. Finally, big data approaches to data visualization and prioritization will help sales managers and salespeople get to the point quickly. At the core of this will be scoring algorithms that can evaluate the information and score opportunities based on a broad range of inputs, from sales stage and close date to the frequency and duration of phone calls and meetings. In chaotic, interruption-driven sales environments, the ability to make data-driven insights (rather than anecdotes) will completely change how salespeople view their territories and manage their time.
Big Data Solutions in Practice
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]