The #1 Mistake Sales Leaders Make In The Big Data Era

The mistake sales ops leaders make with data

The big data revolution is accelerated by advances in technology and and the data driven decision making focus in business schools. These changes have quickly altered the profile of sales leaders. More often than not, we see today’s sales ops leaders are involved in the C-suite and have a sharp quant focus. However, at company after company, we see a common mistake repeating itself. In fact, it is the #1 mistake sales leaders make in the big data era. Too many sales ops leaders and their marketing counterparts are simply equating “more data” with “better data.”

Adapting the CRM for more data

Exactly as expected with the newly refined profile of sales ops leaders, a focus on better sales data has taken center stage. And, in plain fact, more data very often is better. Therefore, since most CRM systems are so easy to modify, we see incredibly elaborate customizations in which sales reps can enter sales data into several dozens of fields.

But, does the ability to do it make it right?

Given this scenario, a good sales rep may ask: “What do you want me to do, close deals or enter data all day?” Whether the question is fair or not is irrelevant. Of course we want reps to close business AND comply with company CRM standards. But before we just brush off the combative rep, perhaps it is worth examining our CRM expectations. In reality, any adaptation of the CRM should be guided by strategy.

CRM adaptation and rep engagement

At PILYTIX, we closely monitor CRM usage stats. Remarkably, we have found an inverse relationship between the number of added custom fields and the level of rep CRM usage. Hidden deals, surprise short term closes, and clear “sandbagging” indications tend to be highest at the organizations that have asked reps to enter the most fields of data.

Avoid the mistake sales leaders make by developing meaningful data policies and strategies

Our clients benefit from specific recommendations for CRM adaptation. Nevertheless, there are several things we encourage all senior sales leaders to consider when developing their data policies and strategies.

Sales reps

  • Educate sales reps how they will directly benefit from complying with your CRM standards. Hint: if you can’t convince sales reps of what’s in it for them, you will never solve your data collection problems.
  • Recognize that while sales reps are tremendous sources of market intel, they are not professional market researchers. What information is better collected via full time professional market researchers?

CMR fields

  • Focus on those fields that directly speak to the most important priorities of stakeholders throughout the organization.
  • Learn which fields correlate with deal success (or failure) and ensure that there is focus on those fields. Don’t assume that these fields will be identical from one company to the next.

Third parties

  • Ensure that the quantitative outputs of any third party engagement technology is integrated into sales data. Assume sales rep are doing the hard work of selling. Further assume you paid a vendor to track open rates, phone meeting time, or web conferencing data. In this case, it seems reasonable to seamlessly integrate that technolgy.

Sales leaders

  • Establish the role of the sales leader and clearly define the expectations for data collection. In doing so, sales leaders will have the organizational support they need to think in bigger terms of the wider strategic impact they can have on the rest of the organization – marketing, finance, and corporate strategy.

The big data revolution has quickly altered the profile of sales leaders. Today’s sales leaders must have a good understanding of adapting the CRM for the purpose of extracting meaningful data. They must not make the mistake of equating “more data” with “better data.” The best sales leaders will strategize and plan for CRM adaptation and data policies that align with business goals.