In fact, when asking Sales Operations Leaders what qualitative data they had gathered, here are their responses:


  • Conducted internal win/loss debrief on large opportunities
  • Analyzed win/loss reason our reps fill out in CRM
  • Interviewed VP of Sales, Product Leaders, and Sales Manager to understand what they were seeing in the market


Outward-In Buying ProcessOrganizations doing these things aren’t poor performers. But what they are doing is gathering data from an inward-out perspective when they should be looking at the market from an outward-in perspective. Inward-out in this case is defined as projecting ourselves onto the client, while outward-in is client view projected on us.


Developing a holistic understanding of the customer and looking at the world from an outward-in perspective will make data analysis truly meaningful.  


Gathering Data to Develop an Outward-In View

To gather customer information and develop an outward-in focus, sales operations has to disconnect from analyzing spreadsheets and start talking to customers. For many Sales Operations teams, this means stepping outside the comfort zone and performing new tasks. The three most effective ways to begin building an outward-in point of view:


  • Customer Win/Loss Interviews: A one on one interview with customers who have gone through a sales process and made a decision to purchase your solution, purchase a competitors solution or do nothing. The objective of the interview is to map a customer buying process. From the moment a customer identifies their problem, conducts research (when and where), identifies requirements, evaluates options, resolves concerns and makes a decision. Mapping what the customer is doing, when, why and how will enable you to add context to your sales data and identify opportunities for growth.
  • Ride AlongSpending time in the field is highly valuable for sales operations and something many leaders are doing less and less of. The quickest way to understand customers is to actually spend time with sales reps and meet with customers. Look for how the customer is engaging with the sales rep. Does the stage of the opportunity logged in CRM sync with where the customer is in the buying cycle? To help perform this type of analysis, Register and receive the Ride Along evaluation form.
  • Mystery ShoppingThe act of becoming a customer and purchasing your competitor’s products and services. This is a great way to flip your mindset and start asking questions from the customer point of view. As you are performing this task, write down every question you would ask your competitor as if you were making a purchase from them.


Making the Data Meaningful
Now that we have obtained qualitative data, we can marry it with quantitative data to develop meaningful insights for the organization. The process to make data meaningful includes:


  • Conduct data analyses to develop hypotheses
  • Perform qualitative outward in research
  • Develop story for change and quantify impact
  • Implement organization/talent change


In Action


  • Problem: We are not going to make the number this year
  • Data Analysis: Win rate has been declining
  • Outward-in research: Win/loss interviews determined:
      • LinkedIn Groups is where prospects are discussing our product frequently
      • White papers offer prospects the greatest deal of information about our product
      • Marketing is making the buying decision 90% of the time
      • Customers who quantified the problem purchased the new software 85% of the time
  • Story: Prospects are more likely to purchase our software when we include steps such as quantifying the problem; therefore, we should build a lead and sales process that mirrors the buying process.
  • Implementation: Build and launch new sales process that closes a third more deals, cuts the sales cycle in half at double the typical sales price.


If you want to be successful moving forward, start building an outward-in POV. This will enable your organization to mirror customer behaviors.