Did you know that the most successful sales teams are three times more likely to use analytics than under-performing teams? A statistic like that would convince me to use data immediately, but that isn’t always the case. It seems that data has taken a backseat to other less successful sales tactics and it’s time for that to change. But you can’t just throw data at your sales team and expect immediate success. You need to start from the ground up and build a new, data-driven sales team.
How to Build Your Own Data-Driven Sales Team
There are many things to consider prior to diving into a data-driven approach—and I’ll be honest, it won’t be an easy process. But I firmly believe that the dividends of your success are worth taking the time to make it all happen. Let’s discuss the steps necessary to build your own data-driven sales team.
- Put everyone on the same page. Sounds simple enough. I always say start with the big goals and work down to smaller, actionable tactics. What are your overall company goals? How does your sales team help you achieve those goals? What are some KPIs that will show you’re on the right track? Answer these questions first with your sales team. I’ll reiterate that last part, with your sales team. If you want everyone to be on the same page, let your team be part of the goals conversation. If your team knows that their opinions and suggestions matter then they will be more invested in the overall process and that will make getting on the same page that much easier. Once you’re on the same page with your goals, you can identify the types of data you’ll need to collect in order to succeed. This is the solid foundation of a data-driven sales team.
- Take a look at your sales process. Now is the time to work out the kinks in your sales process. Prioritize sales goals and streamline your processes to match. Any changes should be implemented slowly and monitored closely. As your team monitors your KPIs, be open to making changes if something isn’t working. It will be easy to see if a certain part of the process needs to be eliminated or tweaked. But it’s critical that the lines of communication are open. You’ll have a strong, successful sales process in no time.
- Consider your existing data. When I said your team needed to start using data did you immediately panic? I’m sure most of you thought, “well I have data, but we probably should collect other data too.” Hold up. You don’t know what kind of goldmine you might discover if you don’t check out your existing data prior to looking for more. Allow your employees and sales team to define what data assets they have as they compare to the buyer’s journey. You might be surprised at what you find that you can already put into practice. I’ve written before about a Harley Davidson dealership that just mined their existing data and increased their sales leads by 3000 percent. They just had to look at what they already had.
- Consider the quality of your data. Not all data will be good data or even the right data. In fact, data that lacks integrity or is riddled with mistakes can actually damage your sales team’s progress. Start by discovering how many data records you have, when the records were last updated, any email bounce rates or missing phone numbers and the actual lead quality of the data. Clean data is the only way to be successful, so do everything you can to ensure the data your sales teams use is clean and ready to go.
- Automation. Sales teams can benefit greatly from the automation of certain tasks. Data entry and other small tasks cause sales teams to focus on that, instead of selling your product or service. Use the right tools to automate your sales process, first by considering your CRM tool and what could be useful to implement there.
- Analyze. With all of that in place, you’re now able to track your progress and analyze your conversion rates. Now is the time to watch as your progress rolls in and make changes to perfect your progress. This will help you pinpoint an industry that is doing exceptionally well and replicate the sales cycle for others. Or, you can pinpoint weak zones in your sales team, reaching out to more skilled individuals to fill the gap when building a data-drive sales team.
What Technology is Available for Data-Driven Sales Teams?
Teams across the globe are using various types of technology to up their data game. That Harley-Davidson dealership I mentioned is using predictive analytics to identify potential sales leads. Others are using CRM data and customer insights to identify loyal customers before they even call.
The only way to take full advantage of these tools is building a data-driven sales team, focused on quality data and growth. Sales teams can no longer rely on intuition to guide them through the sales process. Instead, through data, sales teams have access to an endless supply of information about their leads and can target exactly who they want from the start. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.