This is the third 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. (Check out part one on data-driven sales and part two on the importance of benchmarking.)
How well is your sales team performing? For sales organizations to succeed, leaders must answer this question correctly. This requires visibility. Sales leaders need access to pay and performance data to truly understand the effectiveness of their sales plans and how they can drive performance and growth.
Consider the following scenario: Bill is the manager of an eight person sales team. Based on his knowledge, he believes his team’s performance is spread across the board. In his head, here is the breakdown of their performance:
- 2 top performers who always crush their quotas
- 2 strong junior reps that are still on ramp, but close to full quota attainment
- 2 average reps that aren’t hitting their quotas
- 2 reps that just can’t seem to cut it
Again, this is the perception Bill has of his team. He knows his top performers—most likely because he is confident their selling abilities. But what about the lower tier reps? Does Bill really know what’s happening under the hood?
In our previous post, we discussed the value of leveraging data to support hiring, M&A activity, and other moves to grow your sales teams. But, data can also be leveraged to understand the real-time performance of your sales teams.
The Trouble with Using Only Pay Data
A simple internet search can yield a salary figure. Based on this, finance and HR can set the guidelines for how reps should be hired. But how does the sales organization know they are protecting their investment with these new hires? What visibility do they have into performance of the rep and if they are successful?
Here’s the problem with an online salary search: collecting pay data from third party sources is a toss up because verifying its integrity is difficult. It can be anecdotal and collected from sources like exit interviews.
Effective sales leadership needs data sources that can be leveraged after hiring and can pinpoint areas of progress and potential growth as well as areas of improvement.
Diving into Real Sales Performance
Let’s go back to Bill’s team. Chances are he relies on his own intuition as a sales leader to check in on his team’s performance. Because available data may live in different systems, compiling a holistic view of true performance can prove much more difficult than going down the hall and simply checking in on a rep.
The problem here is that his intuition-based data is skewed. Because he’s not looking at the whole picture for all of his team, he’s going to be slightly more attune to certain reps. For example, more tenured reps that are successful may pull him in on more deals or more junior reps may come to him for significant coaching and training.
Xactly Insights data found that top performing reps tend to hit their “sweet spot” of quota attainment between their third and fifth year with the organization. In today’s world, working anywhere for three to five years is considered an accomplishment. How would Bill know how to support his successful reps into staying with the organization? How could he also provide his core rep base with the opportunity to mobilize into stronger performance and move into that top role?
The Impact of Sales Pay and Performance Data
If Bill had access to a centralized and aggregated view of performance, he could immediately identify the different characteristics that affect his team and opportunities to help him become a stronger sales leaders as well. He could also flag performance dips and identify reps at risk for turnover.
Xactly Insights is built on over 14 years of pay and performance data that has been aggregated and anonymized. It is the only application that pulls directly from Xactly Incent to provide a clear view into performance and pay to help identify gaps between the two. With the ability to slice and dice the data by tenure, location and other variables, a sales leader gets a real - time view into the health of his sales organization, without questioning, or cobbling together, the data behind it.
So how can access to data help Bill? In Bill’s case, Insights helps him manage his sales team and drive performance more effectively. He can intervene with performance issues more quickly and adjust quotas in real time to help get more bookings. The access to data helps him provide his lower level reps with the right coaching and training, encourage middle-tier reps to increase performance, and more easily identify if his top tier reps could be ready for a promotion.
Want to learn more about the impact of pay and performance data? Download the guide, “How to Build and Retain Sales Reps to Drive Top Performance.”