When it comes to data, a Sales Ops leader typically asks 3 questions:
- How do we gather all the data?
- How to do we draw critical insights from the data?
- How do we share and present the data?
When all 3 are answered, you can build out a succinct data strategy. A data strategy will inform future sales reporting and enablement initiatives. It will help make decisions on systems to store data. And it will direct governance and ownership of the data. It will help you think through the Critical Success Factors of a data strategy.
Focus on 3 components to effectively gather data.
- Decide most relevant data to collect: You cannot boil the ocean. Pick the appropriate amount of data based on current capacity.
- Create process for capturing data: A broken process will taint the data. If sales rep input is required, streamline the data entry process. Evaluate your systems to ensure they will drive clean data.
- Complete Quality Control on all data: Assign responsibility for regularly monitoring the data. Look back to see if pipeline and forecasts were accurate. Identify who, or what teams, are struggling inputting the data.
With clean, useful data, the sales team has evidence to validate current state.
Drawing Critical Insights:
Focus on 3 components to drawing critical insights.
- Formulate hypotheses to validate: Work with entire sales organization to determine what we believe to be true. Determine how the data can help us validate the hypotheses.
- Use the data to prove or disprove: Use aggregated data to prove initial hypotheses. You will begin to see where different teams excel and fall short.
- Prioritize initiatives and build roadmap: Based on the current state, Sales Ops must prioritize actions to close gaps. There may be a problem with sales training. It may be that the product cannot demand the margins anticipated. Or it may be that the team simply cannot sell into a specific vertical.
This has proven difficult in many sales organizations. Many Sales Ops leaders have stated that this is a major area of opportunity.
Focus on 3 components to present the data:
- Determine stakeholders in the organization: Sales Ops needs to understand the political climate of the organization. Who will be affected by your roadmap? Partner with them early to ensure they are on board.
- Identify what they expect from, and can offer to, Sales Ops: Different stakeholders have different levels of experience interpreting data. Too much data can be overwhelming. Consider how you can drive value to the data.
- Illustrate how data strategy will help solve their problems: It’s the So What factor. Data means nothing if it cannot compel appropriate action. Adoption of any roadmap will be determined by the value each stakeholder derives.
In order to support a sales team, first you must know the sales team. You must know where they are strong and where there are gaps. Sales Ops has to decide what capabilities to prioritize and how to measure them. A data strategy is a building block of a Sales Ops Charter. Building one is essential to drive the rest of the Sales Ops strategy.