Sales organizations have access to mountains of data – more than ever before. But much of it goes to waste, only being used to report on results and track performance.
Companies can gain an edge by connecting and applying all of this data to improve sales effectiveness. That means creating a data-driven sales strategy.
According to McKinsey’s report, Big Data, Analytics, and the Future of Marketing & Sales, companies that weave data analytics into their operations increase productivity and profitability by 5-6% over their competition.
Data-driven sales help you sell more effectively, applying a greater understanding of prospects. It delivers effective, personalized outreach, based on buyer readiness and behavior, with less manual effort from sales reps.
With data-backed sales enablement, you can also boost your team’s productivity and profitability by automating key aspects of your sales rep’s workflow.
To get this advantage, you need a plan. But first, let's talk about what it really means to make data the driving force of your sales strategy.
What is a data-driven sales strategy?
A data-driven sales strategy uses information collected from selling interactions to anticipate customers' needs, personalize messages, choose which offers to promote, and identify the prospects most likely to buy. Sales organizations also use data to identify appropriate business goals, predict pipelines, and ensure reps are on track to meet their sales goals.
How data-driven insights transform sales operations and buying experiences
The past two years have acted as a catalyst for profound changes in how we conduct business. Buyer-centric digital selling and data-driven sales are at the forefront of these changes. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of all B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.
To successfully adapt to these changes, sales teams will need to adopt new skills, optimize their processes for new buyer behavior, and embrace data-driven sales approaches.
Here are the primary benefits of implementing this strategy in your organization:
Determine sales readiness and target your best prospects
Imagine if you could predict which prospects are most likely to become customers. How would that change the way you sell?
You would stop wasting sales resources on leads that you know are unlikely to become customers. Instead, you could use buyer behavior data to target your efforts on promising prospects and loyal customers.
With a data-driven sales strategy, you can observe and predict customer behavior with a high degree of accuracy. You’ll always have the information you need to target the perfect audience for your offers.
Use the data you already have on how prospects are interacting with your marketing and sales content. Bring all the engagement information together to tell the buyer’s story.
Then use that story to optimize your sales playbooks and target your most promising prospects.
Hyper-personalize your outreach
By gathering data on your prospects’ biggest challenges and business goals, your team can create buyer personas that reflect people’s needs. Then you can create a personalized outreach strategy that addresses those needs directly.
Data can help you engage buyers with a relevant message at the right moment in their buying journey. And with content automation solutions, you can eliminate the need for sales reps to manually dig through CRMs.
Increase customer retention and boost profitability
According to BARC research, companies that implement data-driven sales solutions can increase profits by 8% while lowering operating costs by 10%.
Data-driven sales can help you retain customers. By analyzing customer behavior data, you can recognize signals that indicate that customer relationships are at risk, and take action to remedy issues.
For example, you can set alerts to indicate when a customer’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) drops below a certain point, which can signal a dip in customer loyalty. Then your sales team can reach out to the customer to identify and resolve problems.
Pinpoint your sales organization’s strengths and weaknesses
Taking a data-driven approach to sales enables you to examine the operating efficiency of your sales team so you can look for problems, spot opportunities, and increase sales productivity.
For example, you can perform an internal sales analysis that shows your sales results broken down by rep performance, products and services, geographic areas, and other characteristics.
The data will help you identify your top salespeople and analyze what these top performers are doing to get great results. You can use this insight to share knowledge and create better training and sales coaching to help lower performers improve.
You can also use this data to see which products are lagging, where leads drop off, and when sales are lost.
How to create a data-driven sales strategy
Using a data-driven sales approach means more than simply gathering information about your sales activities and interactions. It means transforming that information into actionable insights – and using these insights to improve your entire sales process.
If you take the time to do it right, you’ll have the support of key stakeholders, and a clear strategic plan with measurable results.
Follow these six steps to implement a data-driven sales strategy in your organization:
Shifting your sales organization to a data-driven model isn’t easy.
In a recent survey from BARC, 39% of participants cited a lack of internal communication about data and analytics as one of the biggest obstacles to implementing a data culture at their company.
Make sure all teams – including sales, marketing, finance, IT, and customer service – understand the value and benefits of a data-driven sales approach. Get buy-in from essential leaders. Let your team members know that everyone will need to work together and combine skills to transition to the new strategy successfully.
What are the main goals you want to achieve with the help of sales data? Focus on a few key initiatives to start – you can always add more later.
When planning your goals, tailor your analytics to the needs of your sales leaders and reps. Are they struggling with particular problems? For example, is your team trying to improve its opportunity win rate, increase its average deal size, or speed up response times?
What insights from data analytics might help them solve those problems?
To be successful, you’ll need to provide customized dashboards and decision tools that fit rep and manager workflows. This will help them gain insight into customer behavior, their own sales interactions, and the performance of the overall team.
Gather the data
Next up, decide on the types of datasets you need to achieve your goals.
You’re likely already collecting a lot of the data you need to optimize your sales team’s processes. Review the data you currently have, to determine where the gaps are, then make a list of what you still need to collect.
For example, you can collect data on:
Customer content utilization and engagement, from the top of the funnel to the bottom
Seller interactions, including phone calls, emails, meetings, and social media outreach
Leads generated and converted
Sales rep performance
Time to close
Quota achievement predictions
To gain maximum insight, you’ll gather data from your CRM tool, customer engagement channels, web analytics, content management systems, sales enablement platform, and other digital sales tools.
Is your data isolated on multiple platforms that aren’t integrated? With Pitcher’s sales enablement solution, you can integrate disconnected information silos and pull all your buyer and seller data into one place – with powerful analytics to provide actionable insights.
Turn sales insights into better results
Now that you’ve got the data, you can determine things like:
- The ideal targets for your sales pitches
- Which offers to promote to increase sales
- Which templates receive the most engagement
- Which sales and marketing assets are performing well, and which ones are not
- Who your most loyal customers are
- Who your top-performing sales reps are (and what habits make them so successful)
- Which parts of your sales funnel need to be improved
- Where you’re gaining or losing market share
- If your team is on track to make quota
These insights can help you build a more efficient, effective sales cycle.
Take the guesswork out of sales with AI and machine learning
More and more enterprise businesses are employing artificial intelligence to augment work and enable digital transformation efforts. Gartner research indicates that the number of companies using AI has grown 270% in the past four years.
If you’re not already using AI to guide your sales team, there’s a good chance your competitors are, giving them a significant advantage in the marketplace.
Guided selling is like a navigation system for sales teams that shows reps the fastest, shortest paths to closing their next deal.
Your team’s AI solution can provide recommendations on the right content to provide to customers, which messaging is the right fit for specific sales conversations, and how to create highly personalized customer experiences.
These AI-based recommendations reduce manual effort and help reps prioritize which contacts to engage with next. AI can also prompt reps with talking points and templates to move closer to the sale based on where the customer is in the buying journey.
Meanwhile, managers can get AI-enabled analysis for a clear picture of pipeline health and overall team performance to help optimize sales processes.
Provide the right training and coaching
Moving from traditional selling techniques to a data-driven sales approach requires rethinking and reimagining the sales process. You’ll need to provide in-depth training so reps and managers can understand and act on the insights delivered from data analytics.
You can use data to create individual training paths for personalized skills development, or use insights from analytics to see what’s working in the field and transfer best practices across the team.
With Pitcher’s sales coaching and training solution, management gets real-time insight into how each rep is performing in the field, so they can share feedback during coaching sessions, set goals, and track reps’ progress anytime, anywhere.
Embrace the power of data-driven sales
In a data-driven sales organization, information collection never ends.
Once you start tracking and sharing insights, keep looking for ways to improve your team’s operations. Measure your progress with KPIs like customer acquisition rates, conversion rates, lifetime customer value, and marketing asset ROI.
If you know how to leverage it, data opens the door to new business opportunities, improved sales performance, and better customer experiences.
Learn more about how data-driven guided selling can make sales processes more effective, efficient, and repeatable by downloading the whitepaper.