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Data-Driven Sales: Why Data is Essential to Drive Growth

Sales organizations must continuously adapt their strategies to stay ahead of competition. Learn why data insights are essential to drive growth and revenue.

6 min read

This is the first in a series of blogs by Xactly Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Michelle Howard focused on the impact of data in order to help sales leaders make strategic decisions.


Many companies preach the importance of moving manual processes toward automation. And for good reason. It’s a clean data set to start, and it provides expanded visibility for all stakeholders within a sales organization (as well as additional important nuggets for future analysis).

There are infinite applications of data sales leaders can use to support their decision making. And it’s becoming more and more crucial to help their reps close deals and also optimize the entire sales organization.

But where do they get started? What leading indicators can pay and performance data help illuminate? Here are a few areas to consider.

Data-Driven Hiring

A little story about us. Xactly is headquartered in San Jose, California, but we also have our flagship office in Denver, Colorado. Both cities have a bustling technology scene in common and are always hungry for capable talent. To recruit the best and brightest in today’s competitive, saturated markets, data driven intelligence is required to help stand out in the crowd. That’s no easy task.

Data can help. To inform a host of data-based needs including compensation, both within our company and across industry peers, using Xactly Benchmarking is a necessity. It helps sales leaders and sales operations understand components and design competitive compensation plans in order to attract and retain top talent.

Optimizing our Sales Organization

What makes an effective sales organization? It’s all about nuance.

The composition of a sales team is based on a number of factors. Understanding the different elements that influence a sales team include tenure with a company, region, time in a certain role, and more. All of these elements have an impact on dynamics, culture, and morale within an organization. Benchmarking can pinpoint areas of performance that need to be addressed—including those both positive and negative.

Understanding these elements can eliminate nuance and arm sales leaders with the tools to navigate existing dynamics, remove barriers, and address critical concerns.

Reducing Attrition with Data

Effective sales organizations place an emphasis on optimizing their teams, building their strengths, and hopefully increasing their potential to close business.

What happens when a rep decides to leave an organization? It’s estimated to cost anywhere between $115,000 - $150,000 to replace a rep, which doesn’t even take into account the investment an organization makes in professional development. The Harvard Business Review found that companies spend $15 billion a year training their salespeople, with an additional $800 billion spent on incentives.

Attrition not only impacts an organization with a loss of headcount but also a loss in revenue and territory coverage. These should all be considered in a company’s sales capacity planning to account for time needed when a replacement is hired and ramped. The implications on culture and team morale should also not be ignored.

When a top performing rep leaves an organization, the impact can be significant. But the right visibility (only afforded with the right use of data), can help mitigate this problem and provide methods of intervention earlier on. Proactivity, backed with data, can be the best friend of a sales leader. (You can read about Xactly’s use of data to reduce attrition in our recent blog post).

Before going further in this blog series, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions about data and your sales organization, including:

  • How am I currently using data?
  • How is it aggregated and where is it stored?
  • Do I have confidence in my data?
  • What am I missing that would be relevant in my analysis?

Stay tuned for more blogs on the importance of data in sales organizations, where we’ll explore all of these elements in greater detail. In the meantime, download the guide, “How to Build and Retain Sales Reps to Drive Top Performance.”