Would you stake your career on your sales analytics?

Well, would you?  It’s an honest and very frank question.  One that I ask my customers all the time.  It really gets them to think about the trust that they have in their data.  If your answer is no, take a few minutes and ponder the following advice. 

Let’s say you have a meeting in two days with your executive team and your board.  In your hand is a manual roll up of your sales data.  It’s something you do every month and quarter.  It’s tedious.  It’s always a challenge. 

To get the data, you had sales operations extract your pipeline data from your CRM system and place it into an Excel model.  You distribute it to each manager and they distribute it to each sales rep.  Your managers asked each rep to update the data, then send the spreadsheet it back to the manager who then compiled all the data into on spreadsheet.  This file then gets sent to you or your sales operations manager to compile all spreadsheets into the master.  If this is you, I would not even stake a free slice of pizza on this data.

That might be a bit harsh, but look at the facts, or lack thereof.  With so many people involved and such a manual process, data variations from one period to the next are bound to happen.  Many times, these variations are manual errors, unexpected changes in opportunity-related data and many data points are based on opinion, not fact. 

So what can you do about it?  First, stop taking the data out of your CRM system.  Invest in a reporting tool that is native to your CRM system and develop a process for updating and reporting data.  Hold your team accountable for data accuracy by keying in on those data points that are critical to your ability to properly forecast.  A list of these items include:

 Following your sales process in your CRM system and ensure that key data elements are always up to date – like the close date

Ensuring opportunities are in the right stages

 Score the validity of opportunities based on sales reps historical management of the opportunity (number of times pushed, sales stage progression, age per stage)

 Use actual conversions by sales reps as your probability and not arbitrary percentages

 Improve your reps ability to select close dates or even better, allow your system to select the close date based on the reps past behavior

 Expose all of this data to your sales reps so they know the impact of their behaviors

Track these results over time and coach your sales people based off of how they run their book of business in your CRM system.  You are now managing based on fact and as you work with each sales rep, the integrity of your data will improve.  You can run your full reports in your CRM and present it to your executive and board right inside of your CRM. 

Detailed historical analysis of sales behavior and using that analysis to predict future behavior and impact is the key to improving the quality of your data.  So, instead of all of the manual role ups, the haircutting of the data and the hours spent on trying to explain variations in data, spend your time getting your act together inside of your CRM system and hold your reps accountable for data quality.  You career will thank you for it.