Author: Bailey McCaffrey
How does your sales organization (or even more broadly your company) plan for the "what could happen’s?” and the "what if’s?” You may not always be able to change what's happening in the world around you, but you can adjust the way your organization reacts and try to turn the impact into something positive. As daunting as this task may feel, there is a reason for diving deep into the data and reworking your action plan, even when faced with a situation that defies prediction and hampers forecasting.
So, to answer the question, "How do I plan for what I cannot plan for?" is as simple as one word: Data.
Sales organizations that are data-driven will excel in times of evolution or even revolution, whether you expected the change or not. For example, take what's happening in the world today - companies can either step-up to the challenge created by COVID-19 and change the way they operate, or they can be left behind by their competitors. Organizational change is often difficult, even in the best of circumstances; but when executed correctly, it is always worth the investment. Here are a few reasons why data is so valuable during times of transformation.
Data helps you know your company's strengths and weaknesses.
Collecting and measuring data can be a beneficial tool to help you play to your strengths and work toward fixing your weaknesses. When the world faces difficulties, your company will likely see organizational and operational challenges begin to surface. During times of reform, it's important to accelerate the positive factors and quickly work to fix anything not running at full capacity. Tracking data and looking for patterns will help you model and take action before missing an opportunity.
Data helps you solve problems as they happen.
As problems come up, it's essential to look at the solutions rationally and make data-driven decisions, rather than relying solely on anecdotal information or using the “guess-and-check” method. Data compiled will help you explore new opportunities and see how change might be beneficial to your operations. Rather than putting a band-aid on the problem, data will help you explore what is wrong, model possible outcomes, and take logical action accordingly.
Data helps you communicate with your employees.
During difficult times, internal communication is everything. Your employees and sales reps make up a team of intelligent, rational, hard-workers. Most likely, that's why you hired them in the first place. So when times get tough, and modifications are necessary, give your workforce a transparent, reasonable and rational explanation as to why you're making the changes you have decided. Data will help you get employees on board with any transitions, and company acceptance is key to a business's success.
Data will help you plan for the future, rather than reacting to the past.
When change is inevitable, it's crucial to make adjustments that will be beneficial in the future. Innovation is essential in the digital world we live in. Using data, your team will be able to predict and plan for where your company is going rather than just knowing where you are today. Being proactive in change is the best way to be reactive when things don't go as expected, and data is the only way to plan for the unforeseen.
So, what data should your sales team collect, how should you collect it, and what do you do with it after it's been collected?
There are a few actionable steps to take within your sales process to help you stay in front of the curve and be ready for the unexpected.
Implement Sales Technology.
The best way to track and comprehend data is built on leveraging better technology. Your sales team should have a process for monitoring sales performance and tracking what products or services you are selling and what price you are selling them for. Among the best methods to help track these important sales operational metrics are sales performance management (SPM) and configure price quote (CPQ) solutions. These systems help you track, organize, and understand your data in an automated and consistent fashion. By having this data available and accessible, making decisions for your team will be quicker, smoother, and more accurate.
Track everything relevant happening within your sales organization.
It's impossible to truly know what's happening in your organization if you don't have the analytics to back it up. Tracking what and when your reps are selling over the years can seem like an incomprehensible amount of data. But the reality is that the more data you collect, the more questions you will likely be able to answer. Sales tools are the best way to track, store, and organize your information automatically.
Look for Patterns.
Furthermore, sales technologies are designed to point out patterns within your data. Tracking all this information is vital, but it will take weeks to pull out information that is helpful to you. By the time you find what you’ve been looking for, the data is irrelevant and outdated. Sales software like SPM systems and CPQ software will point out patterns and other relevant information for you on-time and accurately.
Make changes accordingly.
When times are uncertain, but change for your company is imminent, decisions backed by data are the only way to know you're making the right choices. Data will help you see possibilities you never knew existed and will help you find the source of the problem you had been facing without an answer. Making organizational change is not only the best way but the only way to stay ahead of competitors. As a data-focused organization, you will be set up for success during times of change, even if the transformation was unplanned.
Do you still have questions about the importance of data within your company? Just reach out to our expert team by clicking the button below. We can help you determine how to get the most out of data and analytics within your sales organization.