The events of the last year have put businesses under high pressure to minimize costs while maximizing profits. Now, even in the midst of historic volatility, growth leaders are expected to make real-time, strategic decisions to keep their organization on track while attempting to plan and forecast for the ever-changing future. Yet 55% of sales leaders do not have high confidence in their forecasting accuracy.
This is likely due to the fact that many still rely on manual processes and gut feeling, ignoring data-driven insights entirely and dismissing the benefits of automation. Why? They’re stuck in the status quo. The way of the future will be intelligent revenue performance, and companies that aren’t able to optimize their business operations will be left behind.
With the sheer multitude of data and tools at their disposal today, leaders must confront a lack of trust in data and AI-powered reports and reject uncertainty to stay ahead. As the CEO of a software company that works with sales teams, I’ve seen antiquated decision-making in a multitude of sales organizations across industries. Leaders and their teams are hesitant to adopt data, or they simply don't see the full potential.
However, I believe a growing movement could change that: revenue intelligence. Revenue intelligence aims to use the right intel, such as data, to effectively motivate teams and predict and improve revenue generation. One way this is done is through revenue operations (RevOps), which attempts to consolidate operational silos that have historically existed between marketing, sales and customer success — the business functions closely tied to revenue.
Specifically, RevOps aligns operations touching the entire customer life cycle together under a common goal. By eradicating silos, unifying datastreams and boosting transparency, the organizational makeup of RevOps lends itself to helping decision-makers seamlessly integrate data and overcome this fundamental distrust.
Inspired by my experience watching enterprise sales organizations shift to revenue intelligence and RevOps, here are three steps to help business leaders embrace data-driven decision-making and foster trust in data.
1. Eradicate organizational silos.
Traditional organizational design separates departments and their leads. In sales, this means leaders report to their chief sales officer. Once a deal is made, the new client is in the hands of the customer success teams. They operate entirely in silos. With that, there's risk of miscommunication or duplicative work.
For instance, a department lead may allot resources to solve an issue in their department, all while their solution lies on another floor. When it comes to decision-making, compartmentalized operations prevent business leaders from viewing the full picture, and they may not be able to make decisions that best serve the entire organization. This can perpetuate distrust and further hesitation.
Instead, to effectively start embracing data across the organization, each department should work together, and companies must find a way to feed these tributaries into one river. For example, by breaking down organizational silos, companies that have adopted a RevOps model can develop cohesive strategies and common goals that equally consider input from numerous departments. The result is a decision-making process that’s more accurate and, in turn, more trustworthy.
2. Unify data streams.
Even after bringing departments together, organizations can fall short when setting financial goals and, as a result, miss these benchmarks simply because their revenue funnel is missing a key component: the ability to capture data effectively. Right now, individual departments are using their own data to make crucial decisions or set forecasting goals. However, to be truly effective and help make smarter decisions, data should be viewed holistically. The key is, instead of using multiple platforms and tools across each team, companies should compile and analyze data together.
By fusing these data streams into one and creating an interconnected data pool, leaders can see more accurate and efficient analyses and results, further creating trust in data.
3. Put transparency at the heart of business decisions.
Transparency is at the root of any trusting relationship. Data from across an organization offers full transparency in business operations, driving more trustworthy, strategic insights. But some professionals may fear that data discredits their own instincts. Being in an industry where relying on gut instinct to effectively "call the ball" has been a point of pride, I’ve seen many sales professionals express hesitancy to utilize data for fear it could reveal when their gut is drastically off.
Instead, data should be seen as a benefit: Data cuts through uncertainty. Companies and their leaders should tout that they use data to determine these numbers and goals — even if that means disproving the opinions and prediction of respected leaders. By relying on unified and accessible data to inform decisions, business leaders can provide full transparency in their decision-making process and build trust among colleagues.
Simply put: Data up-levels businesses. Leaders can track their decisions back to specific analyses and data points, boosting transparency, building trust and confidence not only in data but in the organization itself. Through creating and fostering communication among departments and creating an interconnected data pool, data innately complements any leader's core goals: to help their business and employees succeed.
This article was originally published on Forbes.