More Ways to Turn Sales Insights Into Profit: Part 2
As a sales manager, there are many factors you can’t control that directly impact your team’s results—but some things you do have some power over, and you need to pay close attention to them! Last week, we talked about using data to look at three things you can control in order to improve your sales: your sales process, how your team is trained and the content your reps use to engage with leads.
This time, we’re going to delve a little deeper into ways to use data to improve your success rate in sales by developing insights based on that data. No matter what you are trying to improve, you need to base your changes on more than just a hunch. You need data, because data is the key to building a solid foundation. Yet you also need to know how to gain insights from that data. To put your data to work for you to improve sales (and profits), follow these four steps:
Step 1: Collect your data
Data you can easily access and gather likely includes transactions as tracked by your CRM or marketing automation platform, prospect behavior, survey results, input from focus groups, and external resources such as industry whitepapers. The three that you probably have immediate access to are:
- Prospect behavior: Dig into your own internal data to determine things like, is there a time of day that people are more likely to answer the phone or open an email from your organization? When people do respond, what type of content are they more likely to engage with? E-books, shorter guides, podcasts, webinars, something else?
- CRM data: Track your sales activities closely and find out things like, how many calls does it take to get a call back? What cadence of activities is most successful in accelerating a deal?
- External data: Take advantage of any external data that’s available about your customers. This might include information you can glean from research using LinkedIn, whitepapers, reports, or other data sources like InsideView or com.
Step 2: Build insights
Insight means getting information you can use from looking at your data; information that will resonate with your prospects and help them associate their needs with your solutions. When you have insights, you’re able to apply your data to your strategy so you can make a real connection with your prospect, and your message or offer provokes a clear response and has the power to change customer behavior.
In order to build your insights, match the data you are collecting to the prospect’s buying process to create hypotheses about situations. For example, maybe determine why your sales cycle has slowed down. Is your prospect not getting the right information from the sales rep, so he/she has to go elsewhere to complete his research? Is there a direct competitor who has a slightly different value proposition that distracts the prospect and has them second guessing yours sales rep? For excellent advice on creating impactful insights, see this Salesforce.com post.
After you’ve created them, use your insights to validate lead score and prioritize leads for your team. Vary the mix of channels or engagement offers. Don’t expect that the same actions will produce different results. If you keep getting put into voicemail, try email or social outreach instead, for example. If prospects aren’t responding to a certain message, change it or offer a new value-add asset to get their attention. Target your campaign and personalize it as much as possible. MarketingSherpa reports that emails that have been tailored to specific audiences through segmentation get 50% more clicks than their counterparts.
Step 3: Test your insights
Take the insights you’ve gained and test your hypothesis. Include email, phone and social selling tactics to get a quick read. Insights don’t need to only come from new prospects and new sales. Test your insights with customers through cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. (Product recommendations like upsells and cross-sells are responsible for up to 30% of ecommerce revenues.) Track results and analyze what has worked. Identify metrics and set up a dashboard. Define the testing parameters narrowly to measure success more clearly. Make your dashboard public for the whole team to view. Discuss testing strategies, what worked and what didn’t work in daily huddles to gain feedback from the team. Then constantly tweak, adjust, improve…and test again.
When you’re paying attention to what’s going on in your sales process by gathering data and analyzing it, you can start to understand the effectiveness of your messaging, determine the real ROI on each sales activity, and understand how each activity helps achieve sales (or hinders!).
Gathering and understanding your data enables you to tie it to a result—like a sale. Doing so means you will understand the effectiveness of your sales efforts from top of the funnel all the way through to opportunity conversion and closed won deals. With that kind of critical information, you can go about constantly striving to improve!