"Base your sales team goals on data you have, not hunches or irrational desires."
ST Report Rising Stars 320

Why data, not intuition, should be driving your sales team goals

The age of intuition in sales is (almost) gone. Knowing when to “trust your gut” that sales managers often took for granted is a remnant of the past. Let’s face it: in sales, there is always a certain level of risk involved, oftentimes negatively impacting the very decision-making process. As a professional, you’re immersed in data, but on the other hand, you’re also human and that means being wired with instinct. Hence, the role of the sales leader is to set the right tone for your sales team goals which is where data plays a central role. From a slow-paced and intuition-driven environment, data has emerged at the forefront of new analytical methods and introduced greater efficiency and insight. When all is said and done, it’s what differentiates the winners from the losers in the ever-competitive B2B ecosystem. Here’s why.

Data allows deeper insights

When it comes to customer insights, many organizations lack depth. B2B buyers have become increasingly demanding and technically savvy, raising the bar for salespeople. As these modern buyers have evolved to become digitally driven, old tactics became a thing of past. In order to break through the prospect armor, your sales team needs to be equipped with every bit of firepower in terms of relevant information, no matter how small it may be.

“In God we trust, all others must bring data.”-W. Edwards Deming

To level the playing field and raise their chance of success, businesses need to fully embrace the digital culture and delve deep into data to gain actionable insights. It’s not enough to find a prospect, scoop some basic info about the company and its decision makers and send off your sales reps into the unknown. About 90% of B2B decision makers don't respond to cold sales outreach. As they venture deeper into their research, so should you. This is where digital tools such as SimilarTech’s Sales Insights Platform come into play. One of the more interesting features is correlated technologies where you can find out what overlapping technologies your potential clients are using. These actionable insights can help broaden your initial focus, find new business verticals to tap into, as well as other technologies and geographies to attack next.

Sales goals Image credit: Salesforce

With the breakdown of the companies using competitor technology (the types of businesses, their monthly visits, etc.), you gain a better understanding of what you’re up against. You can also uncover all of the technologies a particular prospect is using, broken down into categories which gives an indication of their business focus. If you want to personalize your conversations and tailor the message down to the smallest detail, you can check out the tech stack and tech adoption history of a given prospect. Not only will you get a sense of what they are currently using, but also when they added it and other technologies they tried in the past.

And that’s just a small piece of how you can leverage data to your advantage.

Data is more reliable

It’s a well-known fact that customer-centric companies with data-driven insights are 60% more profitable compared to companies that don’t rely on data. As opposed to intuition, data is more reliable and less dangerous. A lot of decision makers trust their own intuition simply because they think or feel they see the situation clearly. Whatever underlying reasons are, overconfidence is almost a guaranteed one-way ticket to Illusionville. This source of mirage is first and foremost designed by the quality and consistency of the narrative you as a sales leader can create, rather than by its validity. If you can fabricate a simple, yet coherent story, you’re in danger of feeling rather confident about it, irrelevant to its actual roots in reality. Numbers and facts don’t lie.

Your team becomes a trusted source

Trust is a tough thing to come by these days. To build a successful sales machine, your reps need to do more than selling: they need to be beside prospects all the way. While most prospects have an acute attention deficiency syndrome, when you become a bonafide resource for your customers before, during, and after the sale, you create a long-lasting relationship that can do wonders for you in terms of getting referrals. That way, your sales team can establish credibility and confidence before reaching out to new prospects.

Sometimes, it’s how you position yourself; being solution(s) provider influences prospects more (and rolls much better off the tongue) than a plain sales representative for a product or service. However, more often than not, it’s about having a thorough understanding of the data at hand. Data makes it far easier and natural to set team goals, as well as those for individual members because you can forecast more accurately. Another huge benefit is the ability to personalize the conversation and make a play at the right time. For instance, by tracking prospects in real time with SimilarTech, your salespeople can stay in front of important events and contact a prospect the moment they’ve been alerted that a potential customer has stopped using a competitor. The same goes for when a company installs a correlating technology: reach out to show how a combination with your technology in the mix can provide even better results.

Find the perfect balance of data and intuition

Intuition will always have a place in the sales process, regardless of its size, shape, or form. However, it shouldn’t be taken at face value. If you want your sales team to routinely perform at maximum productivity, you must create realistic expectations for them based on clear and tangible data. Sales performance largely depends on having critical insights, while avoiding errors. Base your sales team goals on data you have, not hunches or irrational desires.

Dilbert Comic Strip
Image credit: dilbert.com

With relevant data easily obtained through digital tools such as SimilarTech, your salesforce can gain deep insights into the various needs of different customer segments. All strategic decisions should be based on as much research as possible so that intuition can be equally informed. The amount of success it takes for sales leaders to become self-assured and overconfident is quite small. Some achieve a winning reputation for taking chances that reasonable people wouldn’t take. The question is: are you willing to take that chance?