How Sales Leaders Activate Key Data to Drive Alignment

16 Feb 21

The increased accessibility and abundance of market data and insights can cause decision paralysis and prevent sales leaders from moving with decisiveness and purpose. Prescription and predictiveness are the principles that sales leaders should frame up to leverage market insights and drive decisions that impact top-line growth. However, a foundation of internal alignment is critical to successful execution.

Death by information overload—a theme and phrase we often hear in the age of information technology and big data. Decision paralysis is derived from the inability to process data. As digital evolution continues to push data volume and make market insights readily available, the players that outpace the competition are the ones that can confidently articulate how they activate and operationalize key insights. See how internal alignment drives two principles that sales leaders of market-leading organizations are structuring to define their FY21 sales strategy and beyond.

Leveraging Data and Insights to Drive Internal Alignment

As organizations mature, their commercial teams grow in size, complexity, and scope. What started as a team of ten hybrid account managers has blossomed into a triple-digit team of distinct hunters, farmers, customer success, and solution engineering functions. Scaling the team required hiring from a diverse set of backgrounds and experience levels. Extensive training and culture-building were needed to integrate new joiners and upskill existing team members. This has resulted in a mountain of new data perspectives and insights from new faces and past experiences.

Establish a commonly understood internal fact base. Utilize common “metric language” that all teams would recognize and understand within your commercial organization. Align on common terminology and metrics such as compensation cost of sales and ACV vs. sales credit. Many organizations focus on lagging indicators and metrics such as revenue. While these are important, metrics such as compensation cost of sales, CAC:LTV, average deal size, selling vs. non-selling time are metrics that should garner attention because they drive the change that links the corporate strategy to actionable behaviors within the sales force and measure performance.

A recent study by SBI indicated that companies moving up on the digital maturity model see incremented 3-7% improvements in commercial effectiveness at each stage. The most significant indicator of success was internal focus and alignment through two dimensions: Predictiveness and Prescriptiveness. The most successful organizations go beyond the typical diagnostic of what is happening and why it is happening but seek to understand what will happen next and answer what we should do. This predictive and prescriptive mindset enables team interlock and allows the team to move with agility and conviction. Targeted and proactive efforts will always trickle quickly to execution-based frontline sales managers and individual contributors. Movement as a single team unit, top to bottom, and quick operationalization are keys to adapting to market conditions and accelerating faster than competitors.

Using SBI's Digital Maturity Evaluation Tool, understand your sales organization's strengths and identify areas of improvement in your digital strategy.

Principle 1 - Prescription: Back to the Base

Market leaders understand exactly where to allocate their resources to generate the most value. Instead of simply understanding market potential through TAM analysis, the most successful leaders identify a Go-to-Market execution strategy to operationalize their market knowledge by measuring customer potential and propensity to buy. Bucket customers and buying centers to retain, opportunistic, acquire, and develop (ROAD) accounts to optimize time and resources to target the ideal accounts. Understanding wallet share (how much a customer can spend) and propensity to buy (how likely a prospect is to purchase) enables leaders to prioritize and deploy the right people and process by skillset and knowledge to maximize growth.

Focusing on the right accounts has shown to improve bookings 11-14% per rep. Account planning and extensive knowledge captured enable leaders to deploy the right coverage, packing, pricing, and enablement materials to best customize and tailor pricing, packing, and solutions to increase win rates and improve commercial efficiency.

Execute a prescriptive “Back to the Base” strategy to customize offerings and sales strategies at the individual customer level.

Principle 2 - Predictiveness: Leverage the Digital Evolution

Utilize predictive analytics and buyer/customer journey mapping to identify points of friction and key buying decision points. Increase customer experience by reducing friction points in the customer journey. The association between “predictive analytics” and “digital transformation” must be broken. Instead, consider a digital evolution mindset and focus digital efforts to drive success in high-impact initiatives. Track the return of investment (ROI) of each digital effort and anchor it back to one of three points: commercial efficiency, employee experience, or customer experience. If your digital effort does not directly improve one or more of these three anchors, reconsider the initiative.

For example, understanding the buying journey through new technologies such as Altify can help predict shifting customer buying motivators and identify patterns. Respond to new buying behaviors by experimenting with new cross-functional roles. The age of one-time product/service purchases is gone. Customers want end-to-end packages that offer support from the first point of contact through the entire lifecycle (e.g., the buying process, implementation, technical support, customer success). As a result, many fields, inside, and support roles have blended and operate across the entire spectrum of marketing, sales, and customer success functions. These highly skilled but costly roles increase the importance of leveraging data for internal alignment and finding new ways to reduce customer acquisition costs (CAC) and costs to service achieve zero. The digital evolution has enabled organizations to be dynamic to evolving customer needs by quickly training A-Players across all stages of the buyer journey and enabled lower CAC targets by supporting leaders to continuously analyze returns by role.

Create the foundation first. Start with SBI’s Digital Maturity Evaluation Tool and ground yourself on where your organization is today and create an internal fact base before jumping into action and executing your Back to Base and digital evolution strategy. Remember that this is an evolution and not a transformation. Stand on a strong foundation and executive in a stage-appropriate manner.


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