Good sales managers already have many tools in their motivational kits, such as mentorship, industry experience, and being able to identify new opportunities. However, in some cases experienced managers are missing out on one of the most fundamental tools available in modern business: data.
Sales managers can’t change their quotas, but they can change how they manage their team and incorporate a more data driven approach. Most businesses are already tracking all of the data necessary for such a change – the key is knowing how to leverage it to inspire and create actionable processes in your department.
Below are four tips for optimizing how you manage your sales reps in a data driven way to improve the return on your quotas and the satisfaction of your best salespeople. All you need is your latest sales data and a business intelligence tool like Power BI!
Communicate leading indicators
It’s easy for a sales manager to fall into the habit of keeping their data to themselves and just telling the team “what they need to know”. While the goal is to keep your reps focused, limiting access to data also means they aren’t armed with information that could help them perform better. Sales reps respond well to clear communication and well-defined expectations, and sharing all of your KPIs (and the data behind them) will enable your team to not only know what they need to do, but why they need to do it.
As the saying goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Share as much as possible with your reps, including CRM data, pipeline numbers, and revenue figures. Keep them in the loop with forecasts as early as possible, and share early goals and metrics internally on a sales-centric dashboard. They’ll appreciate having access to tools that help them work smarter.
Give your reps the tools to explore
Once you’ve given your sales reps as much data as possible, encourage them to interpret the numbers on their own. In some cases their interpretation will differ from your own, and they may suggest alternative processes and changes to their routine. Embrace this opportunity to test your strategies!
Set up these reps with access to their own data tracking tools, such as a private dashboard, and encourage them to try their new ideas for a period of time while keeping rigorous reports of the results. At the end of the experiment, sit down and review the outcome and how their data compares to that from the rest of the team. This will empower your reps and give them the opportunity to try new ideas, while ensuring that your own processes remain fresh.
Let data guide your mentorship
Even in a data-centric business world, today’s sales managers know that face-to-face mentorship is as important as ever. A cross-discipline approach works well: reinforce your coaching with data that backs up your intuition and provides a baseline for change.
Prepare for your guidance meetings with more than just a quota gauge. Look at the data available for each rep at every stage of the sales pipeline. Are they losing more prospects than usual after the first meeting, or maybe not getting to decision-makers at all? Show your rep how their process differs from their peers, and what they could try and change to find more success.
Respond quickly to leading indicators
Part of an effective sales management strategy is thinking ahead at all times. You need to be aware of the smallest fluctuations in the performance of your team so you can anticipate future problems and start corrective action and mentoring as soon as possible.
Staying on top of potential issues means having effective monitoring. Don’t just look at the bottom line, or the quota number at the bottom of the spreadsheet – you need to survey data from each of your reps from throughout their sales process. Even if the big number is on track, changes in how your reps get there can indicate a shift in their habits or even in the market in general.
Data can be viewed as clinical, but the numbers generated by your sales data are critical to evaluating and managing your sales reps. The key is to combine relevant, fresh data with your own personal insights and coaching experience.
Give your reps access to as much information as you can, and use that data to tailor your mentoring plans. Encourage reps to make their own insights, and to back up their ideas and intuitions with the data to prove their methods. And don’t let your information get stale – frequent updates and reviews means that you’ll catch digressions before they become problems.
Getting started is easy: grab your most recent sales data and set up a free visualization and dashboard tool like Power BI, and you’re ready to start mentoring your sales reps the data-driven way!