In recent years, managers and reps alike have learned that most everything can be tracked and measured whether we’re talking about team activity levels, first touch prospect online visits, or marketing’s share of ROI. Today's data, supported by easy to use analytics software, is less abstract and more actionable: Are my activity levels on target? How efficiently am I closing deals? Or which three trends will impact our pipeline in 2022 and what should we do about it?
Like it or not, data will continue to rock post pandemic and so it’s more important than ever that companies manage it in a strategic way. What are 5 big steps to take to make sure your company’s data is a strategic asset?
I contend that wave after wave, as we hopefully move towards a permanent New Normal, the degree to which successful remote working has relied on data just to manage day to day operations is reflected in a growing understanding of data and analytics as a core staple of success.
Most managers in sales and marketing will already tell you that they make decisions based on relatively secure data and advanced analytics. In our experience, although many companies have individuals with high expertise, the role of data in everyday operations varies a lot. Becoming a data-driven organisation, now that's a different ballgame.
Data and Analytics Driving Strategy
The latest rise of data and analytics in sales started before Covid, for sure. New SaaS technologies emerged, CRM systems and applications in general became more intuitive and accessible for SME’s, our customers, perhaps reflecting on experiences in the consumer realm, started to exhibit unheard of buying behaviours like shopping for cars online. Most everything became traceable.
A creative mindset still sets the aspirations and makes bold choices, but strong data provides the edge. Gut feeling should not be enough to answer the toughest questions like...
- Why have events played out as they have?
- What are the trends behind the results?
- What needs to change? How can we develop?
- How can we accentuate the positives and minimise the negatives?
Data as a Strategic Asset
Are CEOs getting the answers they need?
In our work, we continuously see boardrooms drowning in too much bad data, which is stored in multiple data sets, feeding overlapping processes and creating isolated realities. Tactical priorities easily override long-term strategic ones, because making sense of unrelated, siloed data is nerve wracking and stuff needs to happen.
Then there are the real few, with data infused in their DNA. These companies treat data as a strategic asset and have a documented data strategy, which outlines how they plan to mature in analytic capabilities and transition from making decisions based on hindsight to making decisions with foresight. This ability to utilise data runs through the organisation and is, in fact, ingrained in culture.
5 Steps to Make Data a Strategic Sales Asset
So, let’s look at five macro level steps to take to start your transition from data as a headache to data as an asset:
- Obviously, start with strategy. Data is not in and of itself. Before asking a dedicated team to create a data strategy, you need to map out what your overall strategy requires in terms of data, information and analytics. Create a shared vision first, then let the details pan out by function.
- Second, map your customer journey touch points and align sales with marketing and Customer Success: Starting with goals and objectives, stay SMART and identify the critical KPI’s, keeping a
special eye on those that are shared.
- Third, make a concerted effort to understand which kinds of data enables your people (whether management, sales reps, marketers, or Customer Success) to perform more effectively and efficiently. It may not be as obvious as it seems.
- Continually improve upon processes and test to ensure high quality data is available, accessible and relevant. Create SLA's between functions and utilise clear KPI's to ensure that attention is payed in the right places, at the right time, by the right people. Make sure there is a shared approach across the organisation to utilising, sharing and reading data.
- Finally, do to data what Apple did to i-phones. Complicated data will always be there, but keep it in the background and let the specialists get their kicks. Give your hands-on professionals actionable data they can use, in a technology space that is intuitive, shared and as in depth as they need, when they need it.
Data-Driven Sales Informs All Sales Decisions
Just as some companies are hoping everything will soon return to normal and this remote working phenomenon will be but a bad dream, there will continue to be varying degrees of data acceptance depending on, for example, the industry in question.
The hard truth is that without strong data, given the changes in technology alone, sales teams will not understand where they’ve been and what the future holds. With data, decision making is less biased. With data, critical business impacting trends can be seen before hand. These kinds of advantages help delineate between tomorrow’s big winners and potential losers - our bets are on the scaling companies showing us all how data can inform all important sales decisions.
Increase Sales with Website Design
What do websites and sales have to do with each other? Everything. Strong websites act as your sales team's supporting pillar, enabling identification of prospect visits, lead generation and developing upsell / cross-sell opportunities.
Interested? Download a free guide to get the background story.