One of our most common discoveries in B2B organizations is that sales managers are drowning in a sea of sales data but getting little value from all the effort spent in collecting and reporting on it. Further, even though the purpose of analyzing sales data is to support effective decision-making, oftentimes the one is divorced from the other.
One of the key benefits companies realize in implementing a sales performance management (SPM) framework is that they stop the habit of collecting sales data for its own sake. What they do instead is to collect that 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?
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. Talent Management, Compensation Planning, Territory Design) 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:
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.
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