Using Data to Drive Sales Strategy and Execution

The most successful organizations are finding ways to drive greater certainty and predictability into their business through data. Ready to drive a discipline of data into your sales strategy?

As the calendar has turned to 2021, top-tier NFL teams are preparing for deep runs in the playoffs. Others are going back to the drawing board, diagnosing what went wrong and how to turn it around next season. These narratives are occurring in the business playing field as well. Best-in-class sales leaders have overcome the odds that 2020 put in place, from overachieving against stretch growth goals to reinventing themselves in a COVID-19 world. Meanwhile, others are staring at 2021 against the ropes in need of a bounce-back season.

Often the difference between these two scenarios is how these sales leaders have incorporated analytics into their sales strategy.

Understand Where Your Organization Falls on the Analytics Maturity Model

Those who foster a data-driven culture and have moved up the Analytics Maturity Model have reaped commercial effectiveness improvements of 3-7%.

During one of SBI’s latest Client Advisory Board meetings, the topic of “Using Data to Drive Execution” gained a lot of attention among market leaders. Descriptive and diagnostic analytics have quickly become table stakes for high-functioning organizations. Using predictive analytics has an advantage over competitors, and those that use prescriptive analytics are capitalizing on this advantage to grow faster than the market. Pushing these capabilities to front line managers and individual contributors accelerates the impact.

Where is your organization on the Analytics Maturity Model? See below for the four stages and questions that are able to be answered through analytics.

Want to know what is holding your organization back on the Analytics Maturity Model? Start by downloading SBI’s Data Assessment Summary tool.

While last season may be fresh in sales leaders’ minds (those on the calendar year), the focus needs to be on FY22. How can you begin leading your team to embrace a culture of analytics so you can be celebrating at the year-end? Here are five impact plays to start building a data-driven foundation.

Five Impact Plays for Sales Leaders to Foster a Data-Driven Culture:

  1. Establish the Fact Base: Companies that establish a fact base can use a common “metric language” throughout the organization. This language drives commercial interlock and allows the team to move with more agility and conviction. By agreeing on the fact base, the commercial leadership team spends less time arguing over data and can instead focus on the commercial actions that will drive revenue growth. 
  2. Creating the Revenue Plan: Once a consistent set of metrics and language has been established, a coherent plan can be put into place as to where dollars will be coming from and where investments need to be made to acquire and retain those dollars. Market-leading CROs learned during COVID that agility is key to the annual revenue plan. In fact, many have adopted a quarterly refresh cadence to adapt to an ever-changing environment. This requires having the analytical horsepower to effectively “call audibles” without disrupting the business in doing so. 
  3. Using Account Potential and Propensity-to-Buy to Prioritize Accounts: This has been table stakes for sales leaders over the past few years, yet many organizations continue to struggle to focus on sales reps. Many reps use intuition and/or historical traction to dictate where they will focus in FY22. The best reps use data to inform how they prioritize their accounts based on “how much go-get exists” and “how likely is that account to spend with us?” 
  4. Improving Forecasting Accuracy Through Predictive Analytics: Numerous blogs have highlighted the shift to leveraging analytics in improving forecasting accuracy. This is another lever that sales leaders are utilizing to drive more certainty into their sales campaign. However, a key component of this still requires discipline from the front-line. 
  5. Front-Line Manager Leading Indicators: Market leaders focus on behavioral and leading indicators at the functional level to drive decisions and align accountability in the organization. This approach helps the commercial teams execute on the highest impact strategies.

Sales leaders now more than ever are in need of data-driven guidance to get to the number. Whether you are fine-tuning after a winning season or in need of a data strategy overhaul, the first step is gathering a baseline. Get started by downloading SBI’s data strategy assessment tool. The assessment will help clarify where your organization’s data strategy is relative to best practice and where opportunity areas exist.