How top sales leaders get the right data from the field to support decision-making.

The top sales organizations collect the sales data necessary to answer the vital sales questions, track performance against strategic objectives, predict future outcomes, and support ongoing decision-making. That is a tall order indeed. So how do they do it?


Here are four steps we have captured as standard operating procedures for sales operations teams to put in place. Review this article as a check-point to validate your team isn’t cutting any corners on the minimal requirements of data collection. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


Step 1: Design a process for decision-making


The first thing best-in-class sales operations do to get their hands around the process for making decisions within sales.  The graphic at the top represents one enterprise view of how the SPM process spans multiple disciplines within the Sales function (e.g. Compensation Planning,) and requires system integration (CRM, Knowledge Management, Marketing Automation). It also needs to connect the day-to-day activity of front-line sales professionals with the boardroom strategies driving the business.


Step 2: Inventory your Decisions

The best way to do that is to first inventory the decisions made by and for the Sales organization. Find out who decides what, when, why, and most importantly, what data so they need to make that decision. It is easiest to assess and inventor decisions at three levels:


  1. Sales Reps
  2. Sales Managers
  3. Sales Executives


Each of these communities will have a different set of data needs, decision frameworks, time horizons, and degree of accuracy. Sales performance management addresses each one separately to optimize the data flow to them and for them.


Step 3: Stop Reporting on ‘nice to have’ Data


Once you have inventoried the data and compared it to the decisions that need to be made the result will be a great mass of sales reporting that is no longer needed. Typically this was the fruit of some exercises long ago forgotten and no one has re-evaluated the need for the data.  You can save a lot of cycles just by cutting out this legacy sales reporting activity.


Step 4: Institute a Periodic Sales Data Audit 


So that your efforts do not become a one-off improvement, the final step is to set up a periodic audit of data collection, reporting, and usage. This job typically falls to the sales operations function and can be woven into their other annual planning tasks as it relates to the re-issuance of the corporate and sales strategies. Doing this every so often ensure that the data made available to all levels of the organization is timely, relevant, and tied to the decision-making.


The most popular sales operations article in the past quarter is from our guest Christopher Fris, Vice President of Global Sales Strategy and Operations for Ryder Systems.  His podcast guest appearance show was focused on how to support the sales plan with sales operations.


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is a Revenue Growth Diagnostic tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:


  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job


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Mike Drapeau

Makes data and analysis come alive so clients can understand the “what” and “why” and design solutions that fit the environment.

Once the leader of SBI Delivery, Mike is now head of the firm’s internal talent development, so he has had the fortune to help some amazing sales and marketing leaders. He starts by earning their trust. Much of this comes from his deep base of experience. With more than 25 years in sales, sales management, pre-sales and sales operations, he’s never met a challenge he didn’t like. And with backgrounds in sales leadership, marketing, and sales operations, he shuns the idea of being a desk jockey and relishes the idea of living in the field.


Mike maintains, develops, and leverages SBI’s library of emerging best practices for sales and marketing, which leads to evidence-based solutions, custom-fit to each client. Maniacally focused on execution, Mike does not believe in giving clients fancy deliverables with no operational details. He knows that field adoption is key. After all, if behavior doesn’t change, the lift doesn’t come. Likewise, if those closest to the field adopt the solution, the client wins.

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