Repurposing Sales Operations Data: Arming Your Sales Team with Insights

In our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study, “insights and perspective” was one of the four buyer preferences when engaging with salespeople. Sales enablement plays a key role in equipping the sales team with the skills, expertise, fluency and content to do this effectively, and sales operations can also contribute to this. How? By repurposing the data sales operations already works with and arming the sales team with valuable insights to use when engaging with customers.

Today’s buyers are changing faster and to a greater degree than sales organizations. (Click to tweet)

In a previous blog, we touched on the fact that nearly three-quarters (70.2%) of buyers make initial decisions in their buying process before engaging sellers. This is not a surprise, considering so much information is already available to the buyer even before they engage with a salesperson. In addition, most buyers (57.7%) saw little difference among sellers, and some (10.4%) found no difference at all! (Click to tweet) This means sales organizations need to rethink the way they are engaging with buyers.

When we asked what buyers wanted from their engagement with salespeople, four buyer preferences emerged: Understand my business, demonstrate excellent communication skills, focus on post-sale, and provide insights and perspective (2018 Buyer Preferences Study). The fourth item – provide insights and perspective – is the biggest opportunity for differentiation and yet the hardest to master, because you cannot do it well if you are not good at the first three. And providing perspective that is disconnected from the buyer’s context is useless. Sales operations can provide insights and perspective for sellers to sharpen their engagement with customers, and be prepared for any kind of buyer interaction. (Click to tweet)

Repurpose available data to provide key insights for sales teams. (Click to tweet)

Sales operations is usually involved when it comes to providing key decision-making data and analysis to sales executives. In fact, the majority of organizations (73.5%) are involved regularly or heavily, if not in leadership roles, in providing customer analysis and reporting (2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study). When we look further at the types of analysis and reports sales operations provides, the top three analysis for annual planning activities are customer segmentation, product segmentation and market segmentation. While these are primarily used for internal planning purposes, sales operations can repurpose the same data and compile analysis that supports sellers in several ways, including prioritizing which accounts to engage with and providing buyers with useful information.

Here are three types of existing data that sales operations can repurpose to deliver insights: (Click to tweet)

1.Customer data. Most sales organizations have customer data available for both existing clients and prospect accounts. It can usually be found in CRM as well as in marketing automation platforms (MAP), order fulfillment systems and customer support/client success platforms.

Sales operations pulls together customer data from these multiple sources to compile an analysis on client and prospect accounts, which sales executives use to determine go-to-market strategies. Such analysis might include revenue generated by client accounts, potential revenue available within target prospect accounts, products and services sold, competitor and channel partner data, renewal rates and customer retention.

Let’s say sales operations used available competitor and product data to compile an analysis around the number of customers who replaced a competitor product with your product and the reasons why. Armed with such information, salespeople can engage with prospective buyers not only with a business case, but also raise their awareness around additional reasons why they might want to consider replacing an incumbent solution from the competitor.

In another example, if we took client revenue data and grouped it by salesperson, they would have insights that could help them determine what type of engagement they might want to take with each account. If they already sold most of their products and services into an existing client account, they might focus their engagement more to manage the existing relationship and ensure the customer continues to see value. If they still have an opportunity to cross-sell other solutions, the engagement might focus on raising awareness around how others in similar industries have seen value in implementing another product or service they offer.

2.Product data. Product data can be used to compile analysis around product and services revenue sold, upsell and cross-sell opportunities, post-implementation customer satisfaction levels by product, and so on. This type of analysis can help sales executives determine which product or service to place more targeted sales and marketing focus around as well as identify which accounts they still have opportunities to cross-sell other products and services into.

An example of product data-based analysis that sales operations can pull for use by sales teams might be to look at products and services sold by industry. Salespeople can use such analysis to share insights with their customers on how others in the same industry have successfully implemented the product and are seeing relevant ROI.

Similarly, a salesperson also can use product data to help prioritize account engagements – which accounts they have already saturated, which accounts have significant opportunity for growth and which accounts have competitor products that they can build a business case for customers to replace with their products.

3.Market data. Market data is typically used to help determine which market segment (e.g., geographic, demographic, psychographic or behavioral) to focus sales and marketing efforts around. It is at a higher level than customer and product data but, combined with either or both, can produce additional insights that help sales and marketing executives make key go-to-market decisions around which new geographies to enter into, which updates need to be made to existing buyer personas or ideal customer profiles, etc.

Sales operations can utilize market data to provide salespeople with insights around which areas of their territory they may want to prioritize engagement against. Does a particular industry or postal code have compelling events such as new regulatory or region-specific requirements that your solution can address? Have new organizational roles recently emerged that have a specific need addressed by what you offer? Similarly, salespeople can utilize this type of analysis to inform their customers with similar regulatory insights that are relevant and specific to their business.

Some of you may already be doing this and seeing benefits from it. If you are one of them, continue to challenge yourself and look for new ways to repurpose existing data to compile insights that are valuable for your sales team. Others may not have started. If you are one of them, you have an opportunity to proactively compile insights for your sales team and help prepare them for varying buyer interactions. And of course, partnering with sales enablement to help train the sales teams on how they can effectively utilize the insights provided also is important – both for themselves and for their engagements with customers. (Click to tweet)

 

Questions for you:

  • Who is the primary audience for the analysis and reports sales operations provides today?
  • What kind of analysis and reports are you currently providing that are of value to your sales teams and the customers they engage with?
  • What other data points might be available for you to pull together valuable insights for your sales teams and their customers?

 

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2 Comments
  • Dave Brock
    Posted at 08:39h, 06 June

    These represent great insights, but the absence of mention of the product management, product marketing, strategy, and other functions is concerning. Much of their work is about (or should be about) providing many of the same insights. They can potentially provide a broader view because their strategic insight might be different from that provided by sales operations. Plus they are responsible for driving the overall market, product, business strategies–not sales operations.

    We don’t need separate parts of the organization doing redundant work, or even working at cross purposes. Perhaps the better role of sales operations is working with these other functions to make sure the critical information/analysis and insights are provided to marketing and sales in a way that is most impactful.

    Sales enablement and sales operations become highly leveraged conduits of providing information to the sales organization and from the sales organization to the rest of the corporation.

    We always have to remember, sales, sales enablement, sales operations is part of the larger enterprise. Other parts of the enterprise may be better equipped to provide the information and guidance to sales,

  • Yuri Dekiba
    Posted at 20:49h, 06 June

    Dave, you make some good points. It was not intended to imply that sales operations provides the insights, especially when it comes to product and market data. In my experience, especially with larger organizations, as you note above, product management, product marketing, marketing and others have provided strategic insights. So yes, when there are other functions that can provide such insights, sales operations should partner with them to ensure those insights are presented in a meaningful manner for sales. The focus of this blog was more around how to repurpose available data for the sales professionals, as sales operations commonly provides analysis and insights to sales executives. Thank you for your comments!

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