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Why Do Sales Teams Care About Data?

Why Do Sales Teams Care About Data?

The best reps truly care about their customers — especially when they can sell them something that makes them more successful. The best reps also truly care about their employer. Working for a company that offers valuable products and services makes their jobs a lot easier. And of course, the best

The best reps truly care about their customers — especially when they can sell them something that makes them more successful. The best reps also truly care about their employer. Working for a company that offers valuable products and services makes their jobs a lot easier. And of course, the best reps care a lot about whether they’re meeting their quota, and whether they’re on track for any bonuses or other incentives they’ve been offered.

“Data,” on the other hand, hasn’t traditionally been a word that gets sales teams particularly interested or excited.

The word data implies technology, and for many years sales reps operated in a way that was largely free of it. They might have kept their customer contact information in a simple spreadsheet and did most of their selling in person or over the phone.

As cloud-based tools like CRMs came into the workplace, reps have had to think a lot differently about their day-to-day priorities and how they manage them. They’re not only selling through social media or other digital channels. They’re now expected to regularly contribute what they learn in the process of connecting with customers to the CRM.

This might seem like the kind of activities that only benefit their managers or senior executives of their company. All that data could appear to be a way of keeping tabs on them, for instance, and possibly influencing the way their performance is reviewed on a quarterly or annual basis.

If that’s the case, it’s time to start a conversation about data within your sales team to help them realize why they should care about just as much as any of their leaders.

The best way to approach this might be through putting yourself in a rep’s shoes, where you’re making a sort of pitch or a business case for caring about data. Here are some strong arguments to help you win them over:

1. Data lets you tap into the ‘hive mind’ of the entire company

Working in sales can be somewhat isolating at times. It’s up to you to take a lead from a prospect to a paying customer, and often there’s a lot of research you’ll have to do along the way.

The data in a CRM changes all that because it’s a central source of truth that is compiled, ideally, by everyone. That doesn’t just include the research or legwork that was done about a customer by another rep, but by those in other departments such as marketing as well.

In that sense, a CRM is like a ‘hive mind,’ full of data that reps can draw upon with insights from many different coworkers.

2. Data prevents you from reinventing the wheel every time

The longer they’re on the job, reps tend to learn a short-cut or two that helps them close more deals. They might come to recognize tell-tale signs of a prospect’s intent to buy, for instance, and reach out with an offer before they’re even asked.

While some best practices only come from experience, data from a CRM can shorten the learning curve for even brand-new reps.

Rather than making the same mistakes or solving the same problems in order to close a deal, in other words, CRM data unearths patterns that give reps more of a playbook earlier in the cycle.

3. Data makes coaching more relevant and real-time

Reps don’t always appreciate being coached, but that may just be due to timing.

By the time they sit down with their manager, they may have already lost a deal. It’s painful to have to conduct a post-mortem on a deal gone south, versus turning it into a win.

In other cases, the coaching a rep gets might seem full of generalities that could be applied to any one of their peers, rather than something that specifically applies to their challenges.

One of the nice things about data is that it’s always specific. That means managers have details they can look at before they ever sit down with the rep to come prepared with truly actionable advice.

4. Data lets you work from anywhere

“Oh no — I left it back at the office!”

The “it” in this case could be anything from a thumb drive with a rep’s pitch deck on it to background research on the customer they had compiled and printed out beforehand.

Even if they didn’t leave important documents or files behind, reps traditionally haven’t been able to update them until they returned to their cubicle or office.

Today, more of us want the freedom and flexibility to work remotely. A data-driven approach makes this easy.

Since tools like a CRM can run in the cloud, you can access the data from it on a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone. It means you can be effective whether you’re at home, in the office or en route between meetings with customers.

5. Data makes measuring results fair and accurate

Reps expect to be paid exactly what they’re owed, but managing commissions and other forms of compensation can be challenging. Even assessing the productivity and effectiveness of a rep’s work was often subjective in the past, or limited to what a manager was able to see for themselves.

As more companies learn to make use of data, they are able to fine-tune metrics to ensure reps are evaluated in a way that’s completely transparent and equitable.

When it comes time for a formal performance review, meanwhile, there should be no surprises, since reps are often working with much of the same data as their managers.

In the end, reps may still think they don’t care about data. What they come to care about is what data can help them do — whether it’s increase their win rate, increase the share of wallet they have with their highest-spending customers or less turnover within their account base.

But that’s okay. Data doesn’t expect to get a “thank you.” It just continues to bring value to your reps, and your business as a whole.

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