Research and Analysis. Are there any words less appealing for most sales leaders?
They represent the opposite of action. They’re the farthest things from performance. They conjure up memories of high school chemistry and law school libraries. “Researchers” work in sterile labs, right? “Analysis” is done by quants with bifocals. They don’t matter in the “real world.” So why would research and analysis affect you when the annual planning process begins?
Your organization is already beginning to prepare for next year. This fiscal year is ticking away rapidly. Product Development and Marketing are busy. They’re dreaming up campaigns and new things to sell. What they deliver will directly impact your ability to make the number next year. Your fate is partially in their hands. Can you count on the way they conduct research and analysis? Or will your products and campaigns be disconnected from how buyers want to buy?
To learn more, download the SBI Real-World Research Analysis Guide. It will protect you from the best intentions of product development and marketing. Arm yourself with a basic knowledge of how analysis is done. And if you want to see what SBI’s research and analysis revealed this year, register for our workshop.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can conduct your own research, read this. But for now let’s assume the research is sound. It uses multiple data collection techniques across different lenses: Customer, Field, Competitor, and Corporate. Unfortunately, product and marketing orgs often spoil good research with poor analysis. Analysis is where the real work occurs. Pulling real insight from research demands a thoughtful approach.
Let’s say you’re in a fiscal year planning meeting with Marketing or Product Development. You’re hearing about how marketing campaign spend is being allocated. Or about products in the pipeline that could help drive next year’s revenue. Here’s an example of one of the forms of analysis that you should look for:
Triangulation is the process of using two (or more) methods in a study. It’s using multiple sources to confirm or invalidate a result. The point is to prove or disprove hypotheses.
How would you use this in next year’s planning process? Let’s say product development wants to build something new. They research the potential market for the product by surveying customers. The survey results show a high degree of interest in the potential product. Triangulation would then look across other lenses (like Executive, Competitor, and Field). They would do this to look for points of validation. Did interviews with top sales reps reveal interest in the same product? Are competitors preparing or launching similar products? Have company executives expressed interest, based on their assessment of the overall market? All these could be points of triangulation. If they are not found, more research is needed.
Perhaps this sounds elementary. But in many companies, product development involves very little research or analysis at all. Designers build what they think is cool. A client once told me: “Products aren’t released around here. They escape.”
This is just one example. Product development is an area that affects sales leaders. We’ve all been in that meeting with the CEO. The one where we question next year’s number. And the CEO points to marketing efforts or product development as evidence it is attainable. But is it? Your continued success hangs in the balance.
You need enough knowledge to ask the right questions. The SBI Real-World Research Analysis Guide will point you in the right direction.