When I started as a data engineer almost 20 years ago, I designed, developed, and implemented a worldwide sales reporting system for my employer using an enterprise data warehouse. Using analytical packages, my team drove quantifiable sales by transforming the way our company leveraged data.
Even at the start of the millennium, it seemed obvious that studying analytics was a game-changer. Armed with real customer data, sales teams could make more informed choices that could ultimately drive more sales.
Fast forward two decades to a digital world with even more data to study. There’s still massive untapped value in data that we can use.
According to a 2020 Gartner® State of Sales Analytics report1:
47% of sales leaders say sharing data and analytic output is hampered by inconsistent definitions of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).
46% say their companies offer inadequate training on how to access and use data.
Less than half of frontline and overlay sellers—as well as their managers—demonstrate data proficiency.
Finding a key in a haystack
ServiceNow Chief Revenue Officer Kevin Haverty likes to say analytics is the most valuable player on his sales team. I agree that analytics can—and should—enable sales professionals at every company to improve their game on the ground. Think of data as the supercharger of our sales heroes.
At ServiceNow, sales and analytics teams have collaborated to make the mountain of data easy to digest, allowing sales leaders to make the right decisions. And we’ve learned some valuable lessons along our journey toward an AI-boosted, analytics-powered sales strategy. Let me share the three C’s of using analytics in sales.
Data, when not captured and translated into actual insights, isn’t worth the terabytes it takes up. The clutter of unprocessed data is a major reason prospective users shy away from engaging with it in meaningful ways. The fact that there are multiple sources makes extracting actionable data that much trickier.
In fact, sales professionals already use data—sometimes even creating sophisticated models on their own—without necessarily realizing it. The trouble is many don’t keep good records or go about it in a systematic way.
Today’s employees have a countless number of apps in their digital toolboxes. The tool sprawl inevitably creates cracks through which many priorities fall. Storing data in various disconnected places isn’t only costly and unproductive—it’s also detrimental to your business.
Keep a single source—and, therefore, a 360-degree view—of data on one platform to make actionable data easier to extract and access.
Let’s say it takes a sales professional hours to dig through a customer’s needs and issues and then store the information in a spreadsheet. Now, imagine hundreds of sales professionals working separately for different clients. What if we could pool all the effort and knowledge, leverage machine learning, and find insights that sales can apply to everyday work?
In order to calibrate your sales strategy according to the ever-changing conditions of the market, you need consistent data input and KPIs. But you can’t achieve this if you make the experience of engaging with data cumbersome and unpleasant.
Providing an intuitive, consumer-grade dashboard is key. It’s time to treat your salespeople the same way you cater to your customers. Offering an easy-to-use, single pane of glass encourages users to open the dashboard consistently and make data-driven decisions instead of on instinct or habit. Make data work as intuitively for your sales warriors as making a one-click purchase on a B2C site.
Enterprise leaders set goals. Your analytics professionals know how to solve problems. Sales professionals close deals. Why not have all three work side by side to make data work for all of them?
When ServiceNow’s analytics team created a Hot Prospects Dashboard for sales professionals, they engaged in nonstop, back-and-forth collaboration. The feedback loop of “Here's what I'd like to see,” and “Great, what do you think about what we built?” led to an incredibly fruitful partnership.
This resulted in a visual tool that provides a bird’s-eye view of the entire sales landscape, as well as customizable filters to provide various insights. Without having to look at multiple spreadsheets, sales professionals can reference pipelines, compare markets, and find opportunities for growth.
Most importantly, a visual tool allows ServiceNow to deliver more value to our customers and address issues before they escalate into problems. Machine learning predicts the odds of a prospective deal going through; leaders use data to make decisions to increase the odds.
All this innovation came from a simple action: bringing disparate teams together to align on achieving their sales goals using accurate data insights.
The COVID-19 pandemic drove companies to digitally transform at unforeseen speeds. This evolution is giving analytics team an unprecedented opportunity to help drive business success—not only with sales, but also with every function and in every corner of the enterprise. Data might be your mightiest tool if you consolidate, consumerize, and collaborate.
Watch our on-demand webinar to learn how to get started with analytics.
1 Gartner, Infographic: State of Sales Analytics, Sales Research team, 2 December 2020.
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