“Data-Driven Sales” – The Truth is In Transactions – What is it? How Does it Apply to Sales? And
How Do I Use it?
What is It? by Lisa Muller, Principal Consultant SBR Consulting
Whether you call it Big Data, Data Analytics, or Business Intelligence, at the end of the day the simple truth is that each of these “jargon terms” are about the utilisation of transactional data for the enhancement of your organisation. When you do this for Sales it is called “Data-Driven Sales”.
Your first question may be, what do I mean by Transactional Data? Transactional Data is any piece of data that was put into a computer/system that is the result of an action or something happening – a sale, a call to customer support, an amount of a sale and the associated location, a return, a credit, an invoice and expense, etc.
As with any “jargon”, ask 50 people what some “jargon terms” mean and you will get 50 different answers. The technology sector loves to create “jargon terms”. I am convinced there is an MI5
Technology team that secretly comes up with terminology to drop in the marketplace to cause chaos, confusion and fear in order to drive buying patterns! Remember when the term, ‘The Cloud’came out……I still don’t think society has recovered.
So for the sake of humanity and clarity, see my very simplified definitions below:
Big Data: You have a lot of data, most likely in a lot of different systems and you have no clue what to do with or how to use it to help your organisation.
Data Analytics: Looking at those transactions to find the ‘truth’ of what is really happening and those anomalies of what the truth should be.
Business Intelligence: The ability to look at trends in transactions to give us some high level insight to situations.How Does it Apply to Sales?
So, as an example, let’s look at a client situation I had exposure to and give you an overview of a few facts:
• The sales team was selling a manufactured product
• The sales reps were paid on bookings (when the order was placed in the system)
• The team had consistently hit and overachieved their target for 5 years running
• Upon doing research and investigation in their customer services group, it was found that there were a large number of complaints from customers about receiving purchases they didn’t recall ordering.
So what next:
When we looked at the transactions of booked vs returns, a picture of the situation came to life.
We found that there were high levels of returns:
At Certain times of the month
That coincided with Incentive Programmes
So why was this happening?
There was no monitoring system in place to identify lack of performance on, what we at SBR
Consulting call, ‘Critical Success Factors’ (CSFs)
Lack of product knowledge
Lack of appropriate scripting/conversations
Poorly written sales policy
Lack of training product and sales
Poorly Designed Commission Plan
No ramifications for the reps for bad habits resulting in returns
No motivation for reps on good habits for successful selling
So what did we change?
Sales Training programme with Scripting Rewards on good behaviour and good habits
Financial and Performance Review Ramifications for inappropriate behaviour.
Implementation of a system to constantly monitor and report to ensure policies were being
adhered to via Transactional Data Analysis
New Sales Policy
What were the approximate results?
An average of 40% decrease in returns per rep
A 25% increase in sales
An overall increase of retention for the entire client base of 4%
An Increase in profitability of 10%
As we can see from the above: Processes, procedures, training, development, technology (Analysing/Monitoring) and CHANGE are critical to every organisation if you are looking to increase
sales, revenues, retention and profitability.
How Do I Use It?
Every organisation has a variety of systems in place to capture transactions. The question is, “Are
you utilising those transactions to understand what is really going on in your organisation so you can
be continually making positive changes in order to increase sales, revenues, profitability and
retention as we did in the above noted scenario?”
There will be CSFs, which are quantitative behaviours that you want to ensure you achieve, not only
at organisation level but at a sole contributor level. The utilisation of data and the analysing and
monitoring of those CSFs allow for continuous positive change to ensure you achieve those
behaviours and create those habits for success.
What is ironic about this, is that by taking a proactive Data-Driven Sales Approach, not only can you
see an increase in sales, revenues, retention and profitability, but you are now subscribing to a ‘3
lines of defence’ approach which is endorsed by the IIA (click here). Now, if you are in Sales you will
be saying “So what?” and/or, “I have no clue what that is, ” but tell your Auditors, MD, CEO, COO,
CRO or CFO and they will love you, as will your shareholders. You are now officially not only a
revenue generator, but a risk mitigation champion and protector of the company. Holy Moly
Batman! And did we just break down some Silo’s, Enhance the Customer Experience, Lead to
increased NPS scores and move to a Lean Sales Process as well….. Yes! Congratulations and Well
My Call to Action:
You no longer have the excuse of ‘I didn’t know this was possible’. Don’t sit there and talk about it,
do something about it.
1. Create your Critical Success Factors around the key measurable items that you know you want to see as habits which will ensure success2. Utilise technology to continuously monitor those transactions to ensure the right behaviours are being done and the wrong behaviours are addressed
3. Review the results
4. Make the appropriate changes in policies, procedures, processes, people development, sales enablement, etc.
5. Continuously educate and develop your people to ensure the right habits are being achieved
7. Enjoy the success!
Summary: What are Key Points?
Big Data is a fact as we are utilising so many systems to capture transactions and behaviours in our organisations.
Data Analysis is critical to understand the truth of what is going on in your organisation so you have the knowledge to bridge the gap.
Business Intelligence allows us to look at the trends in the Data to give us further insight.
The Truth is in Transactions.
Technology Tools in the space are ever evolving and changing, and understanding how you can utilise them in your Sales Organisation is critical. No longer are they being hidden in the strategy and audit departments, they are now coming to where they should… The front line.
About the Author:
Lisa Muller is the “Data Driven Sales” expert at SBR Consulting, having spent over 12 years utilising
Transactional Data and Data Analytics in Organisations to increase sales, revenues, profitability and
retention at both a strategic and sole contributor level. In addition to her real world application
experience, she worked for one of the worlds’ leading Data Analytics Software providers.