As a sales person, you’ve got a knack for negotiating, building strong relationships with leads, and sealing deals.
Your proven track record with customers and impressive sales figures over time have earned you a promotion, and you’re now in charge of leading a team of sales representatives.
You might have a gift for selling, but you’ve quickly realized that being a sales rep and managing sales reps require different skill sets. You’re now facing new challenges beyond building strong one-to-one relationships with customers. You’re in charge of improving Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE), which means setting up processes that make your sales teams more performant. You’re supporting your teams so they can sell more, sure, but that’s not all. You have to make them more effective at every step of the sales funnel.
Thankfully, managing and selling have a lot in common: as a people’s person, you can rely on your intuition to build strong relationships with your team members. But with a rapidly shifting business landscape and new forms of hybrid work, you might run into one of these 5 challenges that your sales experience hasn't prepared you for. Here’s how to face them head on with the help of sales analytics.
1- Managing your teams wherever they are
The thing about sales reps is that they’re often on the go, visiting multiple customers in one day or travelling for meetings. As a director, you can’t just expect to see them at their desk whenever you want to check in. And even those who used to do most of their work from the office have had to adopt hybrid practices over the last two years, working remotely or from home. Managing a geographically dispersed team is a key challenge for every sales director. In many ways, new technologies have made it easier than it was fifteen years ago to communicate with your teams when they’re on the road. But sales enablement remains tricky: when you need to share important figures that will help them negotiate or when you’d like to give them access to the stats they need, it gets harder. Why? Because most analytics platforms are built for desktop, which means they’re not easy to open and use on mobile devices. And because sales reps are not tied to their desk, they miss out on crucial information that can make them more effective.
The solution: mobile analytics
There’s great value in data and no reason why your sales teams should miss out. Investing in a solution allowing you to bring your analytics to mobile devices can help make everyone better at their job. Your sales reps will be able to check last-minute figures before walking into a meeting and then report back to you, and you’ll be able to understand what’s going on at every step of the way.
2- Keeping everyone on the same page
Sales reps now have a wealth of information to help them make the right decisions. Gone are the days when they had to rely on instinct alone. Digital CRM tools have made it easier than ever to get to know your customers thanks to precise and quantifiable information : how many times have they interacted with your brand? What kind of content have they shown the most interest in? When they have reached out? How is their company doing? There’s no more guesswork involved in judging the interest of a lead. Marketing teams are now able to quantify this very precisely and tell you exactly when is the right time to make your move. But this abundance of data creates problems of its own: it’s often hard for non-experts to make sense of the data available to them. Even worse, there are often various sources of information to refer to, and instead of spending time navigating between one platform and the other to get the full picture, your time-pressed sales reps just skip the data step altogether. How do you keep everyone on the same page?
The Solution: A single source of truth for everyone
If you want to get everyone to use analytics to enhance their sales strategy, you need to make it easy and accessible for them. More importantly, you need to make sure the data they have access to is reliable. Your various platforms shouldn’t contradict each other. Salespeople are busy people: give them access to one single source of truth and make sure they can use it quickly and easily.
3- Spotting issues and fixing them
Troubleshooting is an important part of sales management. Your role is to set up strategies to promote SFE, sure. But when these strategies fail (and they inevitably will, at one point or another, as strategies tend to do), you need to be able to spot red flags, react quickly, and learn from your mistakes going forward. Ideally, you’ll do so before sales numbers start plummeting: by that time, it might be too late. Being able to spot issues before they happen will keep your team from underperforming. But how do you do it? Asking your team members to report back to you regularly and setting up weekly meetings with them to get a feel for their morale is one way to do it. But you might not be able to tell what exactly is causing them to be less efficient: is it your company’s new positioning? Is the strategy deployed by the marketing department getting in the way of the rapport your sales reps have built with their teams? Or is it just seasonality? You’ll need data to know for sure.
The solution: staying attuned to weak signals
If you want to be able to forecast problems, you need to be able to recognize warning signs. Monitoring certain key indicators such as the length and number of phone calls, the number of emails going unanswered or the number of meetings canceled last minute. You should be able to set up your analytics platform to send you warning signals when these numbers start plummeting. Then, you’ll need a way to cross-reference them with other important information to see what set them off. Head here to discover how you can turn insights into action items.
4- Keep everyone motivated
When you’re in sales, dealing with rejection is part of the job. Salespeople know to expect this, and keep their spirits up when they fail. But even the most seasoned sales reps can sometimes be discouraged when they lose an important deal. Your job as a sales director is to keep the morale of the troops up. In order to keep your team motivated, you’ve set realistic yet ambitious goals and a reward system for those who achieve them. The reward system doesn’t have to be monetary in nature: you can offer your best employees perks or symbolic rewards. Being able to recognize and congratulate your outstanding team members is a big part of management. In order to do that, you need reliable access to your data. Sales numbers alone are not enough: on top of rewarding those who bring in the most money, you can also set up a reward scheme based on other indicators, such as those who make the most outgoing calls.
The solution: share numbers with teams
Oftentimes, getting direct access to their performance stats is highly motivating for sales teams. Being able to see how well they’re doing whether individually or as a team can help boost morale. Make sure your teams have access to an up-to-date dashboard detailing their performances and how close they are to achieving their goals. Broadcasting your data can do a lot to help keep your teams motivated.
5- Collaborating with other departments
As a sales director, you represent your team for other departments and the board. You have to be able to report back with clear and concise figures that indicate how well your team has been doing. Communication is a big part of your responsibilities. But the thing is, people don’t have the time to go through complex charts and tables to understand the nuances of your teams’ activity. You need to be able to provide them with a handful of impactful figures that will tell them the whole story of your team’s activity. Being able to inform others of what’s going on in the sales department and joining forces with various teams (such as marketing and customer services) can go a long way.
The solution: share insights thanks to data storytelling
It’s not always easy to get your company at large interested in the precise figures of your activity. Presenting your performances in an interactive storytelling dashboard is a sure-fire way to get your message across and represent the interests of your team. Here’s what data storytelling can do for you.
Data analytics can do a lot to improve Sales Force Effectiveness. An easy-to-use and secure sales dashboard will increase analytics adoption rates within your team and allow you to enable sales reps with the figures they need to do their job.