The Shifting Landscape of Sales: Using Data to Drive Success
Using data to drive success is an excellent method to increase your bottom line.
The science of plate tectonics is how we explain the movement of continents. Yes, continents are moving all the time … but extremely slowly! For instance, it is said that the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are moving away from each other at about 2.5 centimeters per year!
Fortunately, changes in business don’t happen so slowly. One example is in sales. In previous decades, sales was very much the domain of… well… sales people. You needed the ‘gift of the gab’, ‘people skills’ and a ‘good dose of self-confidence’ to be successful.
This is changing because even the best salespeople increasingly rely on data to drive their sales approach. And data has become more accessible than ever before and easier to analyze. How well are you using sales data in your business? Is it driving your decision-making?
1) What does it cost you to get a lead (a business opportunity)? This can be calculated from your spending on digital marketing, events, networking functions, advertising and so on.
2) How many leads do you generate in a month or a year? You might also ‘rate’ these leads in terms of their quality or how advanced they are in your sales cycle.
3) How many of these leads do you convert into revenue – your ‘sales conversion rate’? Has this changed in the past few months or years?
Sounds pretty simple, right? But how do these figures vary depending on the product/service you are trying to sell? Maybe your sales conversion rate is higher for some products? Maybe certain salespeople have a higher sales conversion than others? Have you given any thought to your sales lead times? That means how long it takes to close a deal. Shorter is usually better because selling costs money. Again, it may depend on what product you are selling or who is selling it. You don’t need to overthink this and you don’t need to answer all questions at once. Rome was not built in a day (and continents don’t race around the globe at a rate of knots!!) But it is sensible to develop a thesis on how you can improve sales performance and then find the data to support (or improve) your ideas.
Accountants are not known for their strong sales skills, but they are great at surfacing relevant data, analyzing it and enabling you to implement change in your businesses. And what could be more important than finding ways to grow revenue? Why not take a fresh look at sales data in your business?
And remember… this is one area of business where we must act fast and take charge. Waiting for continents to arrive at their destination will not get us the results we need!
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