Manage, Monitor, and Merge Data-Driven Sales Metrics

You may have a CRM system, such as Salesforce.com, that curates data from previous sales interactions and tracks prospects both aged and newly added, but if you want to consolidate data-driven sales metrics into your sales plan, you shouldn’t assume that your CRM is all you need. Data-driven sales uses research from previous sales interactions to improve and forecast future conversions. By knowing how to manage your sales data, keeping the information up to date, efficiently monitoring it, and merging it with sales reps’ own intuitions and insights, your company may prevent time and revenue losses as a result of chasing the wrong leads, opportunities and non-returning customers. Knowing exactly how to streamline a sale using the right metrics and insights, aggregating data which sales reps can use to drive a data-driven sale, results in the avoidance of lost productivity and missed opportunities.

In addition to aggregating data, companies can also opt to purchase services that notify them of prospect activity, allowing them to better target ready-to-purchase prospects.  Data-driven prospecting, or using the information and expertise at hand to prospect, has better accuracy, helping to provide a stronger and more accurate forecast. Sales reps who utilize data to close sales are more effective, although a marriage between sales reps’ own insights and the data hosted in their CRM system (including predictive analytics) is key to optimal results. Data also helps  sales managers make better business decisions based on previous sales. Having an accurate pipeline will result in improved conversion from leads to prospects to customers. However, these  improvements don’t happen automatically. Learning how to manage, monitor, and merge data-driven sales metrics, instead of combing through dozens of data fields to no avail, will set you on the right path an improvement in your company’s revenue.

Manage

In a CRM system, you often have a pile of data in the form of multiple custom fields already generated for you and the rest of the company to sort through. However, the difficulty is in efficiently organizing these fields to display what information is most important and critical to you and your company. To make it even more challenging, you may have even changed your sales process multiple times along the way, resulting in the need to capture different information at each transition. This can make it tough to know where to start when organizing data-driven sales metrics.

We recommend categorizing prospects into opportunity stages that best fit your prospecting structure and sales cycle. However the data is classified, just be sure that it is done in such a way that you are able to pull reports that will give you the needed information to aid data-driven sales. Then focus on how the customers engage with sales reps and the strategies sales reps use to prospect or close. Be sure to record each interaction with each CRM contact. Lastly, it’s important to document slippage, which happens when a sales rep estimates a deal to close for an expected amount when in actuality the close price and estimated price are not the same. Knowing historically what worked and what didn’t in previous sales will help the accuracy of future sales.

In addition to your CRM, your company may elect to purchase a service that provides lead scoring or intelligent sales enablement that can be integrated within your CRM. When predictive analytics technology is optimized and is used conjointly with your company’s data, you will see a great increase in conversions, landing you more closed deals.

Monitor

After learning how to manage your sales metrics, it’s important to monitor them and adapt your sales plan accordingly. Look for trends and ask questions such as: Who are your repeat customers? What’s motivating them to return? What are your best-selling products or services? Does this vary by time of year or fiscal year? Identify the critical facts, figures, and trends you need to help make the best decisions when prospecting for your business. Make sure to tailor your future product or service offerings to those facts, figures, and trends to obtain a greater chance of increased sales.

It’s also important to monitor your buyer personas and actual targeted buyers. A buyer persona is a very detailed list of characteristics and behaviors of a fictional person who has or is likely to buy or use your product or service. Always critiquing and further developing buyer personas is helpful so you know what to look for in a prospect to ensure a good fit. The data and trends regarding your previous sales and actual targeted buyers can help build an accurate buyer persona, resulting in better knowledge of your company’s niche in the sales market. Therefore, sales reps spend less wasted time and effort on less engaging prospects who are not good fits.

While monitoring your company’s sales metrics and periodically addressing your buyer persona, you should also be paying close attention to your predictive analytics technology. There are so many facets that can be monitored to enable your sales team to better prioritize and target their prospecting efforts. Monitoring information such as title changes, job openings, company expansions, product launches, investment information, and other trigger events will notify you of the optimal time to contact your prospects.

Merge

Merge with what, you ask? Data-driven sales should never replace sales reps’ own intuition and insights. After all, they’re the ones taking notice of sales forecasts and results to ensure they’re making adaptive selling decisions. These selling decisions should be enhanced with the use of predictive analytics technology. For example, if there is a large scale security breach in a specific industry, then the sales reps who are selling security software should be using that insight and shifting their prospecting efforts to that specific industry because they know there is a driving need for that software.

Data and intuition should not be mutually exclusive, but instead used together to create the most effective sales metrics. Many people heavily rely on their CRM system and predictive analytics but let’s face it, without a tactful and strategic sales strategy and a driven and insightful sales professional, that information alone cannot close a sale. It is important to find a balance between relying on analytics,  past sales data and forecasts, and using sales reps’ own adaptive selling process. Merge them all together in a congruent partnership. Managing, monitoring, and merging data-driven sales metrics with sales reps’ own insights will increase your business’s prospecting accuracy and sales, ultimately resulting in improved future conversions.

Written by

Megan Toohey
January 3, 2014

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