How to Make Data-Driven Sales Decisions in a Shifting Global Economy

Blog
May 12, 2020
4 min read
When the economy is shaken by a global crisis, sales plans and projections must be replaced. Discover how you can prepare and lead your team to make data-driven sales decisions in a shifting global economy.

When the economy is shaken by a global crisis, sales plans and projections based on a world that no longer exists must be replaced. If tourism was the foundation of sales projections for the quarter, then those plans need to change.

From the C-suite to the sales force in the field, people at all levels of an organization must react quickly and make important sales decisions that will affect the future of the business. The ability to read the evolving situation is necessary to shift accordingly, make smart strategic decisions, and take action.

Are there new opportunities? Some industries are struggling, but others are thriving.  Did the pipeline contract by product? By industry? What’s a priority now? With current data in hand, you can identify the actual opportunities and risks facing your organization without relying on incorrect assumptions about an uncertain situation.

To provide decision-makers with the information they need to take action, you must determine what data is needed and how to best present it.

Use the Metrics that Drive your Sales Success to Determine Which Data to Capture

The first step is determining what specific data to capture and focus on. Collecting and sharing data is essential; however, the wrong information won’t help and can hurt by overwhelming users and systems. Which metrics are important for your organization? What do your decision-makers need to know? To start, consider the following questions: 

  • What products are selling now?
  • Which industries are buying now?
  • Which territories are most active now?
  • Where is the pipeline contracting?
  • How can incentives be changed to focus the sales force in the best direction now?
  • Are new strategies working?

Determining what data to collect and evaluate must be based on the metrics that drive sales for your business. Selecting metrics is a crucial step in data analysis and should be revisited and refined to adapt to changing requirements. To select metrics:   

  • Start with the questions that need to be answered by the data
  • Refine the selected metrics through an iterative process
  • Check back against the overall goals
  • Ask different users what they need

Present Sales Data in a Meaningful Display to Meet the Needs of all Users

When deciding which metrics are important, there must be engagement from those that will actually use the data collected. Metrics and reports requested by management may be suitable for high-level views of progress and performance, but they are most likely not the same reports a salesperson needs to manage their own efforts.

Even within a department, different users need specific metrics and views to do their jobs. The data presented must be tailored to each audience in order to highlight the indicators most valuable to their duties, while eliminating extraneous factors.

Support Strategic Decisions With Current Sales Data

In a shifting marketplace, strategic data-driven decisions need to be made to effectively manage individual resources and tasks with efficiency. Dashboard reporting is highly useful for the operation and execution of sales.  

Shifting compensation plans to a service-based model rather than sales is one strategic way to fairly compensate representatives and keep the sales force engaged when previous quotas are now unrealistic. Two examples of this approach are Net Promoter Score and New Product Trials.

  • Net Promoter Score measures how likely someone is to recommend your company. The rep and their relationship with the customer plays a major role in this rating. Incenting reps to drive up their Net Promoter Score with their existing customers engages them in a long-term commitment to customer satisfaction and can have an impact on their future sales capacity.
  • Incenting New Product Trials prepares the rep’s territory today for expansion, ultimately improving the lifetime value of a customer in a time when new pipeline may be scarce.

The development, communication, and roll-out of a new compensation plan need to be done quickly to successfully respond to changing market conditions.

A well-designed sales dashboard provides a busy sales force and management team with quick, summarized displays of personal, regional, company-wide, and peer performance using metrics for the current plan. Dashboard information allows management to communicate strategies and highlight priorities for the individuals that drive the acquisition of new revenue.

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Design Dashboards to Provide Essential Sales Data at a Glance

An effective dashboard view must show clear metrics that provide the means to make actionable conclusions. What’s red and needs immediate attention? Where should a manager or individual salesperson focus their efforts on a given day or in a given week? Dashboards come in many forms, varying in complexity. Many offer clever ways of displaying data, or enhanced functionality to drill down to lower levels of detail without requiring separate research. A good dashboard provides both summary data and the ability to drill into detail and allow for root cause analysis.

It’s tempting to offer as many data elements and custom query structures as possible to maximize the possibilities available from a long chain of integrated enterprise-wide business intelligence. However, too many choices distract from the principle of a dashboard—presenting a display of common understanding and status for all that use it.

Effective sales dashboards include these elements:

  • A focus on results
  • Relevant views and metrics for each user
  • A comprehensive summary view of the health of the organization that can lead to proper decision making and action
  • Visibility into deeper levels of data for root-cause analysis
  • Metrics that allow performance management

Use Timely Accessible Sales Data to Gain an Advantage

The sales force often operates independently and is optimized to focus on client relationships, rather than managing and processing data. Both sales representatives and managers need a clear picture of current performance and market indicators so they can respond quickly and effectively.

Access to timely and accurate sales information is essential to help revenue owners navigate this fluid economic market for the foreseeable future. By providing the right information in a timely fashion to decision-makers, the business will be able to make better decisions, faster. Any advantage in taking new strategies to market will see a sizable return in increased sales and revenues.

This is a guest post by Michael , Intangent CRO. Learn more about Intangent here

  • Incentive Compensation
  • Sales Planning
Author
Michael DeLeonardis
Michael DeLeonardis
,
CRO, Intangent

Michael DeLeonardis is Chief Revenue Officer for Intangent responsible for all Go-To Market business operations including Sales, Pre-Sales, Marketing and Partnerships. He is an experienced executive with over 20 years of proven expertise in building high-growth businesses and 13 years of Sales Performance Management experience. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Michael received his BS in Management Information Systems from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He currently resides in Denver, CO where he lives with his wife and dogs. He enjoys hiking, gardening, hunting and cooking.