Sales is the heart of any product or service company. Sales acts as the usher at an event, greeting prospects as they enter, giving them a brochure and helping them find their seats. A great usher (or salesperson) knows exactly which questions to ask to get to know an opportunity very quickly, and how to guide them where they need to go. This is a skill that comes with experience, intuition and personality. It’s also a skill that can be optimized and taught by taking a data-driven approach.
Sales analytics is the science behind the art of sales. Sales analysts use customer, financial and support data to identify trends in the market and get a pulse on the overall health of their sales funnel. While sales analysts aren’t in the field making sales, they’re playing an equally important role behind the scenes building dashboards for sales managers and reporting for leadership.
Here are three strategies to build a strong relationship between sales and data teams and unlock pipeline-accelerating insights that salespeople can leverage as they continuously improve their engagement strategy and pitches.
1. Take a holistic approach to sales funnel analysis
In holistic sales funnel analysis, you’re asking questions such as:
- How many leads, prospects and opportunities do we have in the funnel right now?
- How much time are these individuals spending in each of these stages?
- How many are dropping off at each stage?
- Which representatives are closing these deals?
Sales analysts use CRM, product and sometimes database data to discover similarities between the accounts who moved the fastest through the sales funnel. They can then tie in engagement data from customer engagement tools (Outreach or SalesLoft, for example) that reps use to connect with leads.
From there, they can discover the engagement tactics that converted these customers and better understand why certain tactics are more effective than the ones used with leads lost. They want to drill into not only the number of emails, calls and messages, but also the content. What was the key message behind these tactics?
2. Commit to customer tracking
It goes without saying that sales analysts and reps are monitoring their sales funnel, but valuable insights can be uncovered from the actions your customers are taking further into their journey with your brand, after conversion. Identify your most valuable long-term customers and the sales strategy that introduced them.
Ask yourself the following questions to dig deeper into your holistic sales funnel and identify the specific selling strategies used to convert these accounts to high-revenue customers:
- What actions lead to these customers becoming so valuable?
- What representatives closed these long-term, high-value deals?
- What messaging was behind these tactics?
- How do these accounts compare to the accounts who moved through the sales funnel the fastest?
Long-term customer tracking can help tighten up your sales strategy to focus on converting successful, valuable customers who become your brand champions.
3. Adopt a data-driven sales culture
The last but most important strategy to implement data-driven sales tactics is to adopt a data culture across your entire organization, including your sales team. Holistic and historical analysis is only possible with quality tracking. It’s not enough to tell your sales teams what data you need — you have to show them why the data is critical to their success.
How does following up on the reasons for lost deals lead to higher commissions for sales representatives?
This is a tough question to answer and one that takes time. Start by building dashboards with the data you have available in the platforms your organization already uses:
- Connect to your sales teams’ engagement platform (Outreach) and CRM (Salesforce, Pipedrive, Dynamics 365)
- Join financial and operational data (Stripe, Square, NetSuite)
- Add product (Heap, Pendo) and ecommerce data (Shopify, Commerce Cloud, BigCommerce)
- Bring in key top-of-funnel metrics from your marketing channels (HubSpot, Marketo, Google Ads, Amazon Ads, LinkedIn Ads)
- Tie in customer sentiment data from survey tools (SurveyMonkey, Delighted, Medallia, Qualtrix, Typeform) and support platforms (Zendesk, Intercom, Freshdesk, Kustomer)
Centralize this data in your data warehouse or data lake so everything flows to your BI tool, breaking down silos across departments and creating one single source of truth for your organization.
Provide your sales managers and representatives with a robust view of their sales funnel, and enable them on how to draw actionable insights from the data. Listen to your sales managers when they ask questions of the data and work with them to achieve their goals.
Identify the areas where tracking can be improved, simplify the tracking process as much as possible, and communicate the direct value that will come from these process improvements. Where applicable, add drop-down menus and pre-populated multiple choice options on fields where only a handful of options apply, and set business-critical fields to “required” to ensure all vital information is captured.
Communicate clear expectations for reporting moving forward, and make sure you prioritize the analytical value that comes from improved reporting. Teams who are able to see the impact their extra tracking efforts have on their dashboards will be the most likely to take the extra tracking seriously.
By implementing a modern data stack, you can easily connect data across departments, eliminate data dissonance from siloed platforms, and ensure your stakeholders have the freshest, most holistic data available to them to make important decisions.