When Theo Epstein joined the Boston Red Sox as GM in 2002, the team was at a critical point. They were deep in the trenches of the “Curse of the Bambino,” marking 86 years without a World Series win. It had been 16 years since the team had even made a World Series appearance.1
But Epstein faced the challenge with a different mindset than his Red Sox predecessors and peers managing other teams. He took the tried and true team management styles and innovated. Epstein brought data and analytics to the forefront of baseball management. That helped him draft better players, understand their behaviors, and use those insights to strengthen his team. It completely revolutionized the way teams operated. And in 2004, it paid off when he took the Red Sox team to the World Series and won for the first time in nearly a century.
Today, our businesses are at a similar turning point. The pandemic challenged sales teams in a way we’d never seen before. And it’s taken innovative thinking to survive. The companies that embraced out-of-the-box thinking have succeeded. They’ve reorganized their team structures using revenue operations. Gartner defines it as the “convergence of marketing, sales, and customer service.”2
The goal? To align teams around central goals and use their data better. And like Theo Epstein, companies are using this approach to transform their sales and revenue strategies.
It All Starts With Data
I played 6 professional seasons before pursuing a career in sales. Analyzing data to build a game plan is familiar to me. So it was natural to apply what I’d learned on the field to my strategy on the sales floor. And while the two may seem unrelated, it takes a similar approach to win in both sales and baseball.
In sales, the end goal is revenue. You could think of this as your World Series, your end-of-year target number. There are several deals (aka games) that you need to close to reach that target. Each requires a unique, strategic plan to win.
But a winning team doesn’t zero in on the next game. They take what works and adjust what doesn’t as they work towards their main goal—winning the World Series. They draft players not because they are the best, but because they fill a gap in the team’s strengths. Then they use data to put them on the field in the best positions to get more outs and defeat their opponents.
Likewise, sales can’t focus on the current quarter. Yes, you need to hit your quarterly numbers. But you also have to be setting yourself up for success in future quarters at the same time. You need the right players on your team. Your incentives and sales plans need to motivate them to perform. And your territories must put sellers in the right place to exceed their quotas. Most of all, you need to forecast future revenue accurately and adjust your plans as needed.
Rethinking Your Strategy
At its core, baseball is all about strategy. Understanding your players’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as your opponents’, is critical. If a player gets hurt, how do you shift? Who is the best person to fill in that spot? And how will that impact the rest of your team for different opponents?
This was Epstein’s strategy. He used data to understand the ins and outs of his team and his opponents. He could then model it to every scenario to gain as much information as possible. Those analytics gave him the info he needed to adjust his game plan in every scenario to succeed.
Sales is no different. Think about your pipeline right now. How does your forecast change if one critical $1M+ deal doesn’t come through this quarter? What deals can you pull forward and close earlier to fill that potential gap? How can you shift seller behavior to progress different deals faster?
The answer to all those questions is critical to your sales and revenue strategy. It’s why companies are embracing technology and data insights more than ever. 75 percent of high-growth companies will put some form of revenue operations in place by 2025, according to Gartner.4
Using data strategically is more than helping your team adjust when circumstances change. It’s about using that data to make changes that help you achieve results you haven’t ever before.
Shifting to a World Series Mindset
Epstein’s success is a direct result of focusing the entire Red Sox organization around data. Today, stats are being used to scout players and shift defenses. It helps teams put players in positions with the highest probability of success.
And it works. So why not apply that same mindset to sales? Here’s an example: MetaCompliance, a leading cybersecurity company, recently adopted data-driven forecasting. The result? They've improved forecasting accuracy to nearly 100 percent using Xactly ForecastingTM. (Read more about how they’re doing it here).
And you can too. Xactly Forecasting analyzes your data to help you coach reps more effectively and make strategic decisions. It provides in-depth health scores, sentiment analysis, and momentum for every deal. And it gives you the information you need to build a championship team.
Let’s set up a time to talk about how Xactly Forecasting can revolutionize your organization.