How to stop asking input from your sales team and start gaining on insights

Sales managers often find it hard to stay focused on selling. When the business is growing, more things need to be documented. Oddly enough when sales are in the slump, people start asking ‘why?’ and you end up registering even more of your work. “I’m not making money while sitting behind my computer” and “I know my business better than any system” are often heard statements by sales people. This may be true, or is this old news? It’s very much so for a company I spoke to recently, who where in need of an improvement of their sales process. Their sales persons are excellent in selling the product, that was not the problem. They also kept track of leads and updated status information. The problem was too much information coming in. How to see in a glance what is the most important lead or best task to be picked up when you’re up for it?
That’s where you don’t want to cut down on ‘administration’ or ‘performance management’. No, that’s a cry for better insights. If you want to become more actionable, the data is there to help you achieve that. Some may see it as time spend on taking notes and keeping systems up to date, other see it as time won by getting a clear picture of what is going on. Note: the human mind is good in soft skills,¬†creativity and having conversations with others, systems are good in storing and remembering things. How to do this the right way:

  • Technology: Often the information kept is not in good shape and doesn’t let you figure out what is important or even if you’re on track with targets;
  • Skills: data analytics skills come handy to start leveraging your sales data;
  • Process: create the right culture to excel in sales and achieve the mutual goal of shared outcomes – solving customer needs. Talk about what works for your people and make it transparent;
  • Finally: It’s about the platform, a good design and friendly User Interface, to make it easier and even fun for sales people to register as well as see an actual overview of the business. Maybe the current platform doesn’t fit you, or you should add gaming to make it more competitive.

So certainly I’m not a fan of a digital sales manager who sits behind an interface more than in front of the customer. But, hey, in this day and age where Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are the biggest companies, you need to shift paradigm and get out of your comfort zone. There is no denying in the revolution of tech in any industry. Start by working out what defines the success of your business. See how you can keep track of that. And keep doing it! Don’t make this a one off, because habits don’t die easily. Creating an insight by researching what goes wrong may be a good start but won’t keep you sharp. 
Content wise it is necessary to create action driven information on dashboards. No (only) static information about sales trends, but insights you can turn to if you don’t know what should come first and where to go. Get the heads, minds and focus of your sales team out of excel and their mailbox. Go from quantity to quality, and turn their attention to the most important things that need to be done today. Hello Data-driven Sales!