Enterprise leaders today are under tremendous stress. According to Forrester, 79% say they are facing more pressure than ever to deliver on high growth targets. To meet these demands, executives across industries are taking a closer look at how they can implement technology to streamline and optimize virtually all aspects of their business — from marketing to sales to product and more. However, many are finding themselves unable to execute on one major piece of the puzzle: leveraging data.
Data, and the insights that can be gleaned from it, can be the difference between an organization thriving and flopping. Today, businesses no longer have an option to lag behind, clinging to legacy systems and relying on instinct — and there's nowhere this is truer than in the sales department.
The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the pace of digital transformation across enterprises, and in this new environment, harnessing real-time insights to inform smart decision-making should be an urgent priority for sales organizations looking to not only recover from the current economic crisis but ensure staying power long after it passes.
Today's Landscape: A Disconnect Between Seeing The Value Of Data And Using It
Forrester's report reveals that 90% of leaders understand the importance of real-time insights and that 84% think that being able to execute real-time course corrections is vital. All my life, I've been told to "trust my gut," and while I value my intuition, I'm aligned with the majority of leaders who feel that using data to inform crucial business choices is more effective than depending on gut-level instincts.
While nearly all of my fellow executives approach data with a mindset similar to mine, only a fraction of them are actually implementing data into their everyday operations. Just over a quarter (27%) are able to make real-time course corrections in practice. Data is objective, providing invaluable, direct intel into business performance. However, only 34% of leaders are making decisions with data versus resorting to gut-level decision-making.
These findings clearly outline the issue at hand: Growth strategy leaders overwhelmingly understand the paramount role of data in running a successful digital-age organization, but many continue to be handcuffed to outdated, inefficient processes. That's where new technologies, including sales performance management (SPM) solutions, can come into play to connect the dots.
Filling The Gap: What Data-Driven Sales Looks Like In Practice
Data tells the story of a sales organization, for better or worse. It can offer a comprehensive picture of where sales teams are excelling and where there is room for improvement to help inform a strategy going forward. This snapshot was previously something that sales leaders only had insight into once every three to six months at best. Today, SPM tools can give sales leaders real-time visibility into their businesses so that they can change course, reforecast and pivot plans at any moment. Especially now, in a rapidly fluctuating market, it is imperative to have the ability to make changes to businesses in real time. Sales planning is a fluid, continuous process; it can't wait until the end of the week, let alone the end of the quarter.
Through automation and artificial intelligence, SPM can enable leaders to better model and forecast for the future. These tools can create more time and capacity for leaders to focus on higher-level strategic tasks that drive growth and enable the business to keep up in a crowded, high-pressure landscape.
Here are a few examples of how this plays out:
- Attrition: According to a report from DePaul University, it costs an average of $115,000 to replace a sales representative. SPM solutions use data to offer transparency into an organization's sales force and better understand which sales reps are at risk of leaving. This can create the opportunity to take proactive steps to prevent the attrition from occurring.
- Territory Alignment: As sales reps leave and prospects move or close operations, it's important that territory allocation continues to evolve based on these changing conditions in each region. SPM enables these changes to be made on the fly to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
- Incentive Design: With SPM solutions, sales leaders are able to compare their incentive plans against industry peers. This insight can allow them to make adjustments that increase competitiveness and optimize quota attainment across the organization.
When considering the transition to an SPM solution and evaluating vendors, it's crucial that enterprise leaders look for an end-to-end solution that holistically encompasses the full sales process, focusing on planning, managing, compensating and analyzing sales performance at scale — all on a continuous basis. Further, they should ensure that any SPM technology they adopt will integrate seamlessly with their existing stack and feature a simple, streamlined user experience to reduce friction and maintain agility across the business.
Complacency is no longer an option, and gut-level decision-making won't cut it in today's fast-moving, digital-first world. By embracing SPM technology and harnessing the power of data, sales organizations can leverage real-time insights to better respond to external forces, stay competitive and, ultimately, be better positioned for success in the future.
This article was original posted on Forbes—you can read it here.