Which activities are driving the most success from your sales reps? Can you quickly identify new sales opportunities as they come up? Are your reps spending more time on promising prospects or time-sucking ones? Having the answers to these and similar questions lies in using sales metrics.
Compared to inside sales, where metrics like the number of calls dialed, connection rate, etc are readily available, field sales teams have been typically operating in somewhat of a black box. One where sales activities and other metrics are not being measured thoroughly. Reps are usually just reporting back with the number of deals they closed and not much insight is available past that. While some outside sales teams have adopted using sales data and reporting, most have not.
But, in today’s sales world, sales leaders and their reps who track and utilize in-depth sales metrics are consistently outperforming their competitors who aren’t.
In fact, teams who take a data-driven sales approach are up to 6% more profitable. To effectively take measured control of how successful your outside sales team is, you have to take a step back and look at past performance, activities, and other crucial sales data in an evaluative and critical way.
With the technology available in today’s business environments, it is critical to use sales data and reporting as the valuable tool that it is. Doing so will enable your field sales team to be consistently strategic and effective and continue to grow your company’s bottom line.
In this article, we’ll dive into the benefits of tracking and utilizing sales data, the steps to take to shift your team to a data-driven approach, and the top sales KPIs and reports you should be using.
The Benefits of Data-Driven Sales
Data-driven sales mean collecting and using the most important sales metrics and sales KPIs to direct all sales decisions, from prospecting to sales processes and everything in between.
It empowers you and your team to shift from reactive intuition-driven action to proactive data-driven action that will prove to be much more effective.
Using data to drive your team’s sales success will offer a wide variety of valuable benefits, including:
- Improved sales results: Increased and refined use of sales data helps provide valuable sales insights into where improvements can and need to be made in activities and sales processes. Improved sales activities equal improved productivity and results, which then equal increases in revenue.
- Better development of benchmarks: Effectively utilizing sales metrics will help you more clearly define what “good” means when it comes to sales efforts and results. You’ll be able to develop data-backed benchmarks to hold your team accountable and make improvements where needed.
- Easier ranking and prioritizing of prospects: Data-driven sales makes it easier to ensure your reps are spending their time where it matters most. You and your reps will be able to more easily pinpoint and prioritize prospects that have a higher chance of closing. Allowing you to also more easily filter out prospects that will be a waste of time.
- Reduces the cost of your team doing business: Since your data-driven team will be operating more productively and efficiently, it will save your organization time, money, and resources. By reducing costs, you can more easily take advantage of opportunities to increase revenue.
- Reduced micromanagement and increased management by exception: Micromanaging your sales reps will never go over well. Being armed with crucial sales data will allow you to have a birds-eye-view of your team’s sales efforts, making it possible to see when something comes up that is out of the norm. Then you can manage by exception when needed and proactively change course.
- Improved readiness programs: Onboarding, new product launches, sales kickoffs, and other readiness programs can all be improved through the use of sales data. You can spot trends, such as multiple reps falling behind in certain areas, etc. The success of these programs and what may need to be tweaked can be uncovered through the insights your sales reports uncover.
How to Use Sales Data to Turn Your Team Into a Data-Driven Team
As you can see, using data and key sales metrics can be invaluable to your team’s success. But, you may be wondering where to start to truly use the data to positively influence and empower your team. Here is an effective step-by-step action plan to help you do just that:
1. Determine the Business Objective(s) to Target
The first place to start in turning your team into a data-driven team is to pinpoint and set the sales objective(s) you want for your team. This will help you zero in on the most important metrics to help you meet those sales goals.
For example, if your objective is to shorten the sales cycle in the next quarter, what questions will you need to answer to help you do that? In this instance, you’ll probably need to know things like how long your sales cycle is currently, where there may be any bottlenecks in the sales pipeline, and what length would it need to be to deliver the most return on investment.
2. Ensure Your Team Is Aligned on the Goals & Mission
This step is more about communication than anything else. A successful, data-driven team is aligned on all of the objectives, goals, and overall sales mission. So, once the target objectives and sales goals have been determined, loop your reps in on them and how you are going to use sales data to help achieve those goals. Then, keep them involved and armed with the data as you go along.
This will ensure your sales reps understand what they need to do to stay aligned in the overall pursuit of meeting and exceeding expectations.
3. Use Existing Data to Drive Improved Strategy
Chances are you have some existing sales data that has accumulated. You may not have been using it up until this point but it can still be an untapped resource of valuable insights and ideas for improvement.
Before going all-in on a new data tool, use what you have and jump on insights about past prospects or customers and any opportunities to improve the current strategy immediately.
4. Use a Structured Sales Process (Build One If Not in Place)
A distinct characteristic of successful sales teams is that they follow a defined sales process built on the foundation of solid data insights. A process that contains repeatable and measurable actions that convert prospects to a new customer. Because the process is measured with in-depth sales data, it is easy to pinpoint where and when adjustments need to be made to increase success. It also allows you to see where you can incorporate new sales KPIs and metrics.
If you do not have a structured sales process in place, you can use your past sales data that we mentioned above to help you structure it. If you have one in place now, make changes one at a time and use the sales data to help you determine if the change is benefiting or hurting the process.
5. Sales Data Templates Offer a Place to Start Tracking Data
As we mentioned above, you may have some past sales data you can pull together to start shifting your team to a data-driven sales team. If you don’t yet have a sales CRM in place to track and visualize sales data you have to start somewhere.
You can use a simple but effective Excel sales data template for tracking to get you started. With a variety of spreadsheet templates available, this will at least point you in the right direction and start taking advantage of the sales insights your data can provide you.
6. Utilize a Sales CRM With Built-In Sales Reporting
Excel spreadsheets will only carry you so far. A truly data-driven sales team actively works with and utilizes a CRM tool. Not only for the organization of your customer data but the insights that visual sales reporting can provide.
A CRM that generates helpful sales reports (like Map My Customers), makes your sales data easily accessible and shareable, further keeping your sales team aligned. Plus, you'll be able to surface data-driven sales insights like never before.
For example, Map My Customers has robust reporting capabilities that provide deeper insights and simplified views of crucial sales data that can easily be shared with your team as needed. These reports provide unique views, graphs, and even maps and revolve around five important categories: Overview, Activity, Deals, Location, and Exports. You have the option to view data from yesterday, the past week, the month, or a custom date range.
Specifically, the reporting includes map-based activity reports with smart filters (ie. accounts with overdue visits), a revenue heat map, and even pipeline metrics that can be updated in a couple of clicks to reflect the latest deal statuses.
7. Track All Sales Interactions
As we mentioned above, increased tracking and reporting of sales data will directly lead to increased sales effectiveness of your team. So, a truly data-driven sales team tracks every customer interaction, no matter if it leads to a closed deal or not.
This data will give you valuable insight into what activities are working and what is not. It will also help you track your sales cycle and build out your buyer personas by using the demographic and psychographic information from each prospect.
The Top Sales Reports You Should Be Tracking
Now you can see that tracking and using sales data is a vital component of what the most effective sales teams do. But, even more important is knowing exactly what the most valuable sales metrics are that you need to be tracking.
To have a prosperous and data-driven sales team, these are some of the top sales reports that your reporting should include moving forward:
- Pipeline: A complete and up-to-date pipeline report will show you and your team the current status of all of the deals being worked and where they’re at in your pipeline, allowing you to assess the health of your business at any time.
- Average Length of Sales Cycle: This report will show the average time it takes for your team (or reps individually) to close a deal. You can use this metric to help monitor the overall productiveness of your sales process as well as individual rep performance, allowing you to direct adjustments where needed.
- Activities: This report could include one type of activity or an overall view of multiple sales activities. Either way, tracking the number of calls, visits, or emails your reps make to prospects will help understand the close rate of your team and shine a light on opportunities to improve efficiency and closing techniques.
- Conversion Rates: The conversion rate report will give you insights into the effectiveness of your current sales strategy on both a team-wide scale and by individual reps. Thus helping you determine what is working and what needs to be changed.
- Deals Won and Lost: To help pinpoint trends and commonalities you should be tracking all of your team’s deals, won and lost. This will enable you to gain important insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your products, the impact of competitors, reps who may be underperforming, and more.
- Average Deal Size: Monitoring your average deal size will provide a framework for several parts of your business. It will allow you to predict future revenue, monitor the health of your sales pipeline, and help you determine your reps’ sales quotas.
- Revenue: You always want to have an idea of the new business and revenue that is being brought in at any given time. Tie your sales and revenue goals into this report and you and your reps will be able to see how their efforts are impacting your company’s bottom line.
Uncover Valuable Sales Insights to Optimize Success
A data-driven mindset, not just on your part but your sales reps as well, will easily uncover actionable sales insights. Insights that significantly impact your team’s success because they can then be used to make more informed and effective decisions about sales strategies.
The step-by-step process and types of reports we covered above will help provide an understanding of what factors impact sales success, where new opportunities may lie, and exactly what changes will optimize performance.
Help ensure your company’s continued growth--take the first steps today to start shifting your team to a data-driven mindset!