The Executive Data Gap is a Big Problem for Executives--Here's Why You Should Care

Jan 06, 2020
3 min read
Less than 1/3 of CEOs receive comprehensive data on critical matters. Here’s how sales performance management (SPM) helps eliminate this executive data gap.

If there’s one thing you need to succeed as an executive, it’s access to accurate, useful information. Unfortunately, there’s an ongoing love-hate relationship between executives and data—we don’t get the information we need—and the information we do get is often incomplete.

As someone who regularly provides Xactly’s CEO and Board of Directors with pertinent company data, this is troubling. The data-driven insights our executive team reviews are crucial to making strategic business decisions. If the information we receive isn’t comprehensive, we could make a potentially catastrophic decision.

You need comprehensive data to understand the health of your company, plan effectively, and analyze performance—most importantly, the performance of your sales team. Sales is both your single biggest revenue driver and expense, which is why accurate sales data is so critical.

The Need for Comprehensive Sales Insights

As an executive, you need to be able to answer several questions about the health and performance of your entire sales organization, including:

  • Are we on track to hit our goals?
  • What potential roadblocks do we foresee?
  • Is our comp plan aligned with larger company objectives?
  • Is our top rep at risk of leaving the company?
  • How are we performing across different segments/industries?
  • How are we trending compared to prior years?

That’s only a handful of the many questions we need to be able to readily answer within our sales organizations. Therefore, access to accurate performance data is simply a must-have. Without it, we’re blindly throwing darts at a dartboard and hoping one hits the bullseye.

Consider the wealth of information your customer data can provide you, including areas of opportunity for your business, churn trends, life cycles, and more—all of which is crucial to making strategic decisions and operating at peak performance. But it’s not just customer insights that you need. You need visibility into all areas of your business, and you need that information to be consistent and accurate—regardless of who is accessing it. There’s a gold mine of information within your performance data—but if you can’t gather actionable insights from it, it’s essentially useless to you.

Eliminating the Executive Data Gap with Sales Performance Management (SPM)

No one is immune to the executive data gap challenges—we all face difficulty gaining visibility into our businesses. But we do have the opportunity to initiate change within our organizations to help alleviate these problems with a Sales Performance Management (SPM) platform.

By engaging in data-driven planning, you can create stronger sales plans as a whole, forecast more accurately, and drive higher performance. In fact, SPM users see more than 10% higher quota attainment than non-SPM users, according to Xactly Insights.

According to Gartner, "Sales performance management (SPM) software comprises tools and process functions that automate and unite back-office sales processes. It is implemented to improve sales execution and operational efficiency."

In short, SPM helps your organization operate efficiently, plan effectively, and create a single, holistic view of your organization’s performance by using your data effectively, aligning teams, and continuously analyzing and tweaking plans and forecasting as needed.

When you combine your data with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, you can truly become a smarter sales organization. AI technology gives you knowledge. It takes your data and gives you valuable, actionable insights that you can use to inform your sales planning and execution.

For example, you might not be aware that one of your top sales reps is unhappy and potentially looking for a new role—but AI can help you identify reps at risk for turnover and take action before it’s too late. (Trust me: we learned this the hard way at Xactly—read more on that here.) The same AI technology can be applied to calculate ideal quotas for your team to reach annual revenue goals. (See where your organization stands in SPM adoption and maturity in this quick 60-sec assessment.)

Life Without the Executive Data Gap: Smarter Sales Organizations

This data gap isn’t new, and it's only gotten bigger in the last decade—according to the 2019 PwC Annual Global CEO Survey. In fact, less than 1/3 of CEOs rank the data they receive on “critical” or “important” matters as “comprehensive.” Luckily, there are ways to remedy this situation.

We don’t have to continue operating blindly. It’s our responsibility as leaders to help initiate change and make decisions that better our organizations and SPM provides the opportunity to create a unified sales enterprise. My colleague and Xactly CFO, Elizabeth Salomon, said it well in her recent blog post, “Access to accurate data insights for decision making is the difference between ok and great businesses.”

As a smarter sales organization using a sales performance management platform, you hold a competitive advantage. Eliminating the information gaps in your company ensures you have the insights you need to succeed. With SPM, you can use your company insights strategically to identify opportunities and course correct sales plans in real-time—something that is crucial in today’s fast-paced business landscape.

Learn more about the benefits of Sales Performance Management (SPM) and steps you can take to get started in our SPM Workbook.

  • Analytics and Technology
  • Sales Performance Management
Brett Theiss
Brett Theiss
VP, Marketing

Brett Theiss is a proven marketing executive, specializing in demand generation and the strategy and execution of global marketing programs for high-performing teams worldwide.