One of the challenges sales leaders are struggling with is too much data. Before CRMs and other apps and software, sales was about personal relationships. All of that data was in people’s heads, on bits of paper, and sometimes emails.
Now CRMs and other apps contain everything managers need to know about every interaction with prospects and clients. In many cases, especially when it comes to outbound sales, every call is recorded and email logged in the system too.
Even field sales agents are used to having their every mile tracked and meeting recorded in some way. Data is essential to sales success. No one can deny how useful data is in sales. But at the same time, can too much be a problem?
Yes, too much data is a problem in sales.
Sales reps, whether outbound, inbound, or account managers, can take time filling in a CRM and giving managers on where they are with leads/clients. Often, this work is relegated to a quiet afternoon, or a Friday - admin time when everything more urgent is taken care of.
Consequently, even the most diligent of sales agents will have forgotten some of the finer details of every meeting, call or online demo they had earlier in the week. Monday can feel a long time ago, after a busy week, when Friday afternoon rolls around.
Managers, therefore, are often receiving an overload of data, and then having to figure out what useful information they can pull from it. Within the data there’s always going to be useful insights. Data that can be turned into actionable items for managers and team leaders. But where is it, and how can managers find this quickly to ensure positive steps taken, and changes made?
Not only that, but when the data is a week or two old, how relevant is it?
Being successful in sales means taking action quickly and decisively. Being proactive, and managers can only suggest team members take various steps when they’ve got the right information at the right time, not a week or two after the meetings and calls took place.
When sales leaders are overwhelmed, they can’t do much with the data. Making it not very useful, especially since it takes time for the sales team to create that data, and then for a manager to make sense of it before giving the team actionable insights and feedback.
Instead of data-heavy processes, let’s look at ways managers can collect only the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) they need, in real-time, so they can give the team more useful feedback.
More useful sales metrics
Sales metrics, or KPIs need to be useful, to produce results that are actionable.
These metrics should also play a role in real-time, within the week calls, demos and meetings are taking place. For example, an agent can have a positive instant online demo with a prospect. Have they remembered to follow-up? Have they sent a case study that they promised to send?
If a follow-up is done the week after, because a busy agent forgot and a manager didn’t spot what was needed, then some momentum could be lost. Time is everything in sales. Which is why it should be a quick turnaround between a team member filling in details, and a manager giving actionable feedback and suggestions.
Here are some time-effective metrics that managers can monitor more easily:
#1: Quick real-time overview of meetings, calls and demos
After every meeting, call or instant demo, sales managers need to know; “How’d it go?”
And this information needs to be transmitted in real-time, not several days or weeks later. Even one week makes that information old news. With a real-time update, either via a CRM, email, or a messaging platform, such as Slack, a manager can provide advice or feedback that could influence that relationship for the better.
Sales managers could suggest an agent takes follow-up action they might not have considered. This way, managers are providing coaching that actively and should improve performance in real-time. Sales agents and account managers are also going to provide a more proactive service; helping close deals more effectively, and hopefully quicker.
Another advantage is managers gain a more realistic overview of the state of the sales pipeline during the average week.
#2: Probability estimates
Answering the question “How’d it go?”, also means providing an idea as to whether a prospect/client is likely to go ahead, or not.
In challenging economic environments, accurate pipeline estimates can make a huge difference. And this doesn’t need to be complicated. In the same way that tracking KPIs doesn’t need to be complicated and time consuming. Sure, it helps to have a sales team that runs on data-backed decision making, but for quick actions and decisions, managers need more up-to-date information.
One of the most useful pieces of information following a meeting, call or online demo is how likely, or not, a client or prospect wants to go ahead. Although it isn’t always possible to assess that following every interaction, sales team members should have enough of an idea to estimate, whenever possible.
Not only will this help sales agents know how and where to focus efforts, managers can support them more effectively. Plus, managers can more confidently say how healthy the pipeline is looking, and where more work is needed.
#3: Close - Win Rates
Of course, the final and most important is the close - win rate. Salespeople should always inform a manager once a deal crosses the line. Or when a deal is getting close to being signed, so that a company can ensure services are aligned with demand from clients, whether these are long-term ones, or new ones signing-up.
When it comes to tracking KPIs, keeping it simple is the most effective approach. Simple and timely, so that managers can provide real-time performance support and guidance, to ensure as many deals are closed as possible.