Successful sales leaders use four principles to adopt digital and analytical tools to meet the unique needs of their company.
Few business leaders question the fact that sales teams have to grow. They’ve invested billions of dollars in sales technology and training to deal with automation and artificial intelligence, and these products are constantly being sold in-depth.
The trouble is that these investments did not pay off. We talked to many sales leaders who were frustrated by the lack of ROI and were surprised when their new “shiny toys,” such as the new lead generation tool, failed to deliver meaningful performance improvements.
The fact is that today’s drive for sales growth requires fundamentally different ways of working and the outstanding execution of large, distributed sales teams and channel partners. While many sales leaders accept this reality in principle, they do not devote enough of their energy or energy to pushing that level of change. Advances in digital and analytics mean that sales leaders can now drive and extend meaningful changes that can be brought about today and tomorrow.
Corporations that receive this right often see revenue growth of 5% to 10% but at the same or higher profit margins. They often see many of these benefits quickly in a matter of months. In addition, their long-term health is improved as measured by a better customer and employee satisfaction.
Digital and analytical four ways to promote successful change
Numbers and analytics can fundamentally accelerate and increase the chances of successful change. However, an undisciplined investment can be counterproductive and costly. Based on our experience with companies that have succeeded in improving their ROI on sales, these four actions have had a meaningful change:
1. Provide the sales representative the necessary developments
Today’s high-level analytics can reveal a wealth of sales insight, but often they do not translate into sustainable revenue for several reasons: no confidence in front-line data, overly sophisticated insights, or simply ignoring the neglect of your empirical expertise. A successful change plan relies on a deep understanding of the sales force’s needs and is willing to respond from there by providing a better understanding of what actually helps sales representatives. The best sales organizations use data to understand the effectiveness of all sales steps, from the most important things that drive sales opportunities to where sales representatives struggle or miss out on opportunities. They then package and send these insights to sales representatives. The active participation of sales representatives greatly increases the chances of providing relevant and easy-to-use solutions.
Car manufacturers provide a good example of how to manage front-line needs. Their dealer network is often quite autonomous (stocking and product configuration decisions made by individual distributors). This means that, for example, having 2,000 dealers in a particular market equals making 2000 independent decisions about what stocks need to be purchased. Traditionally, there has been little attempt to optimize the decisions using data from the entire reseller network. As part of a shift in dealer optimization and inventory upgrades, a manufacturer brings together data on specific vehicle configurations (engine type, trim, color, etc.) purchased across the network. Then calculate the best combination of stocks based on a combination of profitability and customer appeal, which can be updated in real time at the time of sale.
These insights are played back to each dealer to expedite the process and give them a better understanding of the situation and make specific recommendations about which cars to order. What fascinates us is the level of promotion of the new system. The adoption rate in nine months was 80%, in stark contrast to the previous adoption rate of less than 10%. Cars spend much less time before buying, vehicles increase their heterogeneity (surplus value helps), and the contribution margin increases by more than 10%.
What changed? For the first time, the company has made it clear what the result is, but does not take into account the individual dealer’s point of view. Dealers resist this top-down idea imposed on them because they do not really understand these benefits and are difficult to implement. This time, the digital tools that provide these insights work together with distributors from the beginning to understand what features and information are most helpful to them. Manufacturers are also developing in an agile way, quickly refining tools based on real-world dealer feedback. Dealers are involved in this process, understanding what the company is trying to achieve and realizing that it will make their lives easier. Because of the adoption rate is so high, the impact on the company is also great.
If done well, this approach can also enhance sales force. As part of a sales transformation focused on pricing and growth, a chemical company used analytics tools that made field sales workers more transparent to the overall business and encouraged and empowered them to develop their own strategies and implementation plans. They can certainly create their own projects on the platform, which can, of course, be tracked by managers and the impact is impressive: in just a few weeks of implementation, customer churn rates have dropped, pricing has risen, and in a year, 50 million US dollars in EBITDA. The magic is to provide insight in the first-line combination in a straightforward way while allowing delegates the freedom to explore some of the potential inputs that allow them to develop their own ideas.
2. Use numbers to turn on the important things for each sales representative
We often find that companies that have a disciplined operational discipline do not apply similar rigorous measures to sales. They seem to be hovering in the misconception that sales are all about relationships or sales teams are motivated entirely by incentives.
The key element in achieving effective sales operations is to focus delegates’ time and energy on a few disproportionate indicators. These typically include pipeline size and conversion rates, as well as incentives aligned with the company’s overall vision for transition, rather than those based on outdated ideas or beyond the reach of sales representatives. Embedding weekly routine activities and daily activity expectations reinforce the ultimate goal of driving sales growth. Crucially, sales leaders need to focus on digital and analytics capabilities to meet those needs.
A technology company’s sales, profit margins and sales of product data is limited, there is no performance management system. When it attempted a massive transformation, which involved capturing new growth points, reshaping its coverage to match opportunities, building cutting-edge capabilities and redesigning the pay structure, the results slowed down and the quarterly target pressure did not slow.
The company realized it needed to create personalized dashboards for each salesperson using analytics and automated reporting systems and emphasized the opportunities they needed to follow up.
Dealers now see their highest chance every day, which helps them prioritize their behavior.
These technologies are also used to help sales force to promote the most effective sales process. Where pricing experts are flagging the hottest opportunities, there are also opportunities to cross-sell with customers.
Importantly, dashboards also introduce transparency from a performance management point of view. Now managers can find the best performance representatives, what opportunities they have closed, and what representatives need counseling. It has two ways. Delegates can also indicate how they need help, up to senior management, to ensure that priority opportunities are given due attention.
The combination of reporting, support and mentoring has had a huge impact very quickly: Using “fast and dirty” tools this quarter instead of making significant investments increased the quarter’s revenue by $ 55 million. The trick is to provide information at the individual level.
The use of digital tools to expand the entire sales organization’s solution is necessary. This includes creating tailor-made dashboards for all salespeople and decision-making tools to help delegates make better decisions on the site. These do not need to be too complicated; even fast and dirty solutions can achieve beneficial results without waiting for more sophisticated IT investments and developments
A software company turned to digital to solve a recurring problem: the sales force was so fragmented and scattered that it was hard to know who to help. From functional managers to software architects, functional departments have more than twenty sales positions and the company realizes that the right people seldom engage in the right transactions. It has developed a digital tool embedded in the CRM system that gives sales representatives the exact names of the right people to request any particular transaction based on their specific experience – up to ten at any one time. The tool also deletes e-mail and calendar data to see which sales-employee interactions are highly correlated with high performance: how often do they interact, at which stage of the transaction and which particular combinations of people work? good? Ultimately, the company has recognized the power of collaboration and is using data and analytics to change the behavior of thousands of sales reps to guide them to better outcomes.
3. Use data to prioritize and personalize the business development
First-rate sales organizations place a premium on building cutting-edge capabilities in the transition; this applies to their sales force and channel partners. They recognize that no new tool or new method will produce results. But they do not stop there. These sales executives use analytics to get very specific content about what to teach and who to redesign the sales organization’s DNA for.
By using analytics to determine the idiosyncrasies and skills of high-performance businesses, you can clearly see where each person’s gap is. Digital tools can then be deployed alongside more traditional learning mechanisms, effectively extending coaching to a wide array of large salespeople.
The above technology company understands that building the front-line skills is the key to successful and sustainable transformation. However, due to the need for so many new skills, they are struggling to prioritize these skills. Sales leadership shift analysis. Our analysis, based on the sales representative database for DNA sales, shows that although pipeline management is an important skill, it is already a group that is already very good at it. The data also show that the best performers are much better at understanding customer needs and quantifying the value propositions offered.
Once a company knows which skills are a priority, it uses a variety of formats to provide training. First, companies reinforce key concepts through e-learning modules and use them in their daily lives. These modules include interactive elements and videos from experts, such as how to customize a value proposition, and then practice delegates at work.
Second, front-line salespeople must use digital platforms to record their own value-targeted delivery or elevator advertisements so managers can observe the sellers and their behavior. These small testimonials are then benchmarked by assessors and disseminated to the best performers for highlighting best practices. Managers make their own evaluations of the video but are also marked as having important gaps so they can provide guidance. The new approach has resulted in a 5% increase in quarterly sales of salespeople who have seen significant improvements in their skills.
Sometimes digital tools must adopt more traditional methods of training. Most of the training was done with the new data-driven tools at the chemistry company mentioned earlier, but the sales manager’s weekly one-on-one meetings required a lot of work. Managers need to invest a great deal of time and energy in training agents and teaching critical thinking skills so that delegates can understand how the data is displayed and make the appropriate adjustments.
4. Communicate, communicate and communicate
Sales leaders need a bold vision based on where growth opportunities are, but they need to set personal goals for each sales force and manager. Advanced analytics can help set refinement goals and personalize these goals for each region, manager, and sales force.
Some of the digital tools that B2C companies use to personalize customer journey and change consumer behavior can be used very effectively to communicate the change to everyone in the sales organization. Specific tools that work well include shared dashboards, visualization of the entire team’s activity, competing “gamification,” and online forums where people can easily communicate with each other.
Leading companies also ensure that they showcase the progress they make using analytics to communicate real-time insight and share early wins. More sophisticated tools may even show individuals’ contribution to a common goal, which can be very inspiring. Overall, this communication makes the change feel more pressing and real, which in turn generates momentum.
A large technology company uses incredible data-rich scorecards from data across the sales organization. It tracks up to 50 metrics, is updated daily, and is updated weekly to leadership meetings so that managers can see what’s at work and what is not, and adjust the process accordingly to provide insight back to the forefront so that if necessary Quickly rearrange.
Digital tools and analytical insights, if properly applied, will provide a powerful way to accelerate and expand the sales organization’s ability to grow. However, let us be clear: Tools should not promote solutions. Every company should see the new behaviors they want to reinforce and design a practical and comprehensive way to harness numbers and analytics.