Modern sales teams cannot rely on their intuition to ensure the effective sales process. Fortunately, the rapid development of data-related technologies offers better alternatives. Data becomes the most valuable asset for many companies, and for a good reason: according to research, companies that use data-driven sales strategies are much more productive and profitable than their competitors.
The use of data allows businesses to increase their revenue in no time, in fact, companies that actively use data in their sales process demonstrate a 50% higher revenue growth. Data allows sales leaders to get insights into the sales process so that they can spend less time trying to calculate numbers and instead focus on their teams and decision-making. Customized reports allow sales teams to detect their strengths and weaknesses, quickly improving their approaches depending on the changing market conditions.
Data-Driven Strategy: What Does It Mean?
A data-driven strategy focuses on data-driven sales. The definition of such sales is fairly simple: sales teams make informed decisions based on data. Data can help sales teams reach out to their prospects at the right time and detect what products can bring more profit. For example, if you have enough data about your current customers and prospects, you can use it to anticipate their needs and to personalize your messages.
The use of data enables your sales team to explore the customer journey, understanding how your customers find your products and what information will help them make a purchasing decision. While helping sales teams in evaluating the customer journey, data also enables sales managers and executives to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the sales process. Such analytics as lead conversion rate, sales growth, sales per-rep, and sell-through rate allow managers to ensure the effectiveness of the sales process at both micro and macro levels.
However, developing and implementing a data-driven sales strategy is not an easy task. According to research, as much as 56% of sales executives are not satisfied with their ability to offer data-driven insights, while 40% of businesses consider limited visibility into data as one of the main challenges of their sales organization. Thus, we decided to help you build an effective sales strategy with our useful tips.
How to Build a Data-Driven Sales Strategy
Ensure successful adoption
It’s important to understand that data-driven strategies should be adopted from the top down. Therefore, executives should see that such a strategy is effective. We recommend starting with the already available data and checking CRM, automation platforms, and sales enablement tools. When executives see what insights they can get, successful adoption of the new strategy is just a matter of time. It’s also important to cultivate a data-driven culture so that employees can clearly understand their main goals and the way your organization is going to achieve them.
Have reliable ERP and CRM systems in place
Enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems are crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of all the complex business operations, such as sales, taxation, movement and tracking of goods, etc. CRM enables your company to track the customer journey while collecting such information as name, age, email, phone number, repeat purchases, anniversaries, etc. In turn, such information can help understand behavior, buying patterns, and lifestyle of your clients. Although CRM and ERP used to be considered necessary only for big organizations, now there are many affordable solutions for small and medium companies, as well.
Prepare a data management platform
Although your CRM system will provide you with a lot of data, there will be both structured and unstructured data. Such raw data makes a little sense to marketers, and it should be properly organized to become valuable and useful. Data management platforms (DMPs) can collect data from various sources, segmenting it in order to target marketing messages.
Embrace data in decision-making
We suggest considering such standard data as pipeline velocity, deal size, quota attainment, and lead response time. In addition, you should take into account days of the week when your messages will likely get responses from prospects, as well as data on the performance of sales enablement content.
The use of data can improve sales productivity, as managers can analyze how their sales reps spend their time. Teams can also use win-loss analysis to understand why certain prospects purchase or don’t purchase certain products or services.
Provide data-driven sales training and coaching
When implementing a new data-driven sales strategy, your team may need additional training. Thus, it’s important to find effective training materials and make sure that all sales reps can access them easily. We also suggest implementing data-driven coaching because such an approach allows for getting the necessary results faster than traditional methods. Sales leaders should monitor the progress of their employees, detecting areas that need to be improved and possible ways of optimization of the sales process.
There are many examples of companies that have successfully adopted data-driven sales strategies and managed to increase their sales.
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Harley-Davidson realized that it needs a new approach when sales of this company dropped to two bikes a week. The company used predictive analytics: an AI-powered platform analyzed the existing customer data from a CRM, targeting the most valuable customers. After this, the system created buyer personas based on real customers and tested marketing messages, selecting the most effective ones. As a result, the company sold 15 bikes in one weekend and increased its sales by as much as 3,000% in three months.
Microsoft also redesigned its sales strategy in 2017, in order to adapt its sales approach to cloud services and to respond to the customers’ needs. As a result, the company shifted its focus to networks, identified the most profitable segments of customers, and used machine learning to predict customer satisfaction with 80%-93% accuracy.
Data-driven sales strategies offer countless benefits.
Such strategies provide insights into customers’ preferences and behavioral patterns, allowing companies to better understand the needs of the existing customers and prospects. Data-driven approaches also help target the most valuable customers so that your team can increase the effectiveness of its efforts. Data is also useful for management and decision-making, being a universal tool that can boost your sales in no time.
Ester Brierley is a QA Engineer in a software outsourcing company and a seasoned content creator. When she’s not writing about cutting-edge digital trends, Ester takes online courses to improve her marketing skills. Follow her on Twitter @esterbrierley.