Gone are the days of sales strategies driven by instinct and speculation. In the age of digitalization, data reigns supreme when it comes to efficient and effective selling.
Data is by no means a novel resource. Sales leaders have leveraged data to build strategy and drive decision making for years.
But how can individual sales professionals leverage data to improve their customer engagements? How can they use data to drive a sales cycle? And why is it now more important than ever to do so?
Here are 4 ways salespeople can use data today to drive sales and close more deals.
1. Data From The Ground
Salespeople interface with customers on a daily basis giving them unparalleled access to qualitative data.
This is the data that tells the story behind the numbers. It helps salespeople understand ‘what’ a customer is interested in, and ‘why’, and can shed light on ‘how’ they plan to execute.
Qualitative data can help salespeople uncover if a prospect fits a buyer profile, accurately forecast the value and timing of an opportunity, or understand where a customer is in their buying journey.
Make sure you capitalize on every interaction you have with your customers. The best forum to do so, whether face-to-face or virtual, is the sales meeting.
Know what you need to know before you walk into any meeting. There are key pieces of information that you will need to know for every sale - the customer’s budget, timeline, technical prerequisites, etc.
But there is also nuanced information that enables you to perfectly position your solution and differentiate yourself from competitors. What problem is the customer trying to solve by implementing your product or service? How does that problem impact their organization as a whole? Why would they consider your product over your competitors (or vice versa)? How will the decision maker measure success if your product is implemented?
Understand what you need to know to successfully position your product (or yourself) to your customer and ask the right questions. The right question can uncover insights to progress an opportunity and even prove that you are a trustworthy partner who understands your customer’s business challenges.
Have a list of questions ready to go. Prepare a list of questions before you walk into every meeting. Make the questions relevant to your customer or prospect, but centered around the information you need to collect.
Remember in any sales meeting, you want your customer to do the majority of the talking, especially at the early stages of the sales cycle. The more they speak, the more information you can uncover.
Be methodical when processing and analyzing your data. You aren’t going to capture every bit of data you need in the first meeting. Data will build up over multiple engagements and across multiple stages of the sales cycle.
Manage this data carefully, as you never know what information will come in handy. Collect the data in a consolidated workspace, wherever you manage your pipeline, and be meticulous about reviewing and updating your notes as you uncover more information and progress the sales cycle.
2. Streamline Workflows
One of the biggest challenges salespeople face is data management.
Think about your process for running a meeting from start to finish. Think about all of the meetings that you run over the course of an opportunity. Now extrapolate that across all the opportunities in your pipeline.
That is a lot of data and chances are it's spread across your email, calendar, LinkedIn InMail, CRM, and your notepad (to name just a few possibilities). The process of cross-referencing and consolidating these data points can be a serious time burden.
A recent data gathering initiative conducted by @messeji estimates that salespeople spend 23% of their day entering data in 2020. That equates to 9.2 hours over a 40 hour work week and that is just the time spent entering data, not to mention all the work that goes into developing the data into an actionable strategy to drive the sales cycle.
The decentralized nature of the data creates the potential for valuable information to slip through the cracks. You need to consolidate your workflow. One of the best ways to do this is to connect the tools you use everyday.
Most sales technologies offer out-of-the-box integrations. These are simple, downloadable solutions that allow you to connect common functions between the tools you use everyday. They help increase productivity by allowing you to work more efficiently between the tools you use, but most importantly, they allow data to flow from one platform or application to another.
To put it simply, integrations allow you to connect the tools you use to create a better experience for yourself.
Want an even more seamless experience? messeji consolidates all of your meeting data into one platform by creating a single workflow. Rather than working across multiple sales tools, messeji helps salespeople prepare for meetings, drive more effective meetings, and follow-up after meetings, all in one place.
Connecting your tools will instantly help you minimize both your data management time burden and the potential for valuable data to slip through the crack.
3. Big Picture Data
‘Big data’ is one of the driving forces in the digital age of business and promises to revolutionize the way we do everything!
Hopefully you’re still reading….
‘Big data’ can be a scary term that conjures images of teams of data scientists manipulating algorithms. For the purpose of this article, and the sanity of salespeople everywhere, ‘Big picture data’ is a much simpler concept.
Big picture data refers to the data collected across your sales motion. Think data collected from all of your team’s sales meetings (rather than just your meetings) or across your organization's collective sales pipeline (rather than just your pipeline).
The idea is that this data can help you understand industry trends, what piques a buyers’ interest, or what the market is talking about at a high level. You can leverage the collective experience of your entire team and apply these insights on the ground in sales meetings.
Many sales technologies, like CRMs, provide access to this type of data and insights. Or your Sales Operations team should be able to help access trend data for your sales team. Don’t have a CRM (or a Sales Operations team)?
Not to worry, your Marketing team should be able to help. Ask your Marketing team what terms they are using to drive traffic to your company’s website or what use cases drive buying decisions across different personas. Ask what content gets the most visibility on your company’s social media channels.
If you’re not already working closely with your Marketing team this is a great excuse to do so. Marketing can help Sales get a better high-level view of what's happening with your customer base and prospects. Sales can help Marketing by providing qualitative feedback from the ground. It is a win-win situation.
Savvy salespeople use big picture data ‘on the ground’ to tailor their messaging to keep conversations with their customers relevant and topical. They use it to anticipate customer trends based on changing market conditions. And, most importantly, they use it to improve their performance over time.
4. Data-Driven Selling
Data-driven selling is the practice of using data to inform your sales decisions and ultimately improve your performance.
It is all about using data to understand what works in your selling motion and where there is room for improvement. Salespeople (the good one’s anyway) assess their performance after a tough meeting or when they lose a sale. But this is often a subjective assessment that doesn’t consider the objective reality.
When a salesperson conducts a successful meeting or closes a sale, they often take success as validation of their existing process and don’t bother assessing how to build on their performance.
Start by looking at past sales to identify trends. Reference both the data you’ve collected from the ground and your big picture data.
What are the common threads across sales that you lost? What are the common threads across sales that you won? Do you have more success when you sell to a specific persona? Do you consistently lose sales at a specific stage of the sales cycle?
Answer these questions to build a process that you can execute for every sale - a simple set of steps that you follow from the moment you make contact with a new prospect until the contract is signed.
Be methodical and track your performance across all of your interactions with customers and prospects. It is important that you document and track your process to create tangible data points around what works and what doesn’t.
The adoption of technology by sales teams has decoupled data from the boardroom. No longer are data-driven insights only available to Sales Leaders with access to teams of analysts.
You can start leveraging data today to help drive sales and close more deals.