Three Good Habits to Practice with Your Sales Data

By Nina Huang

You’ve all seen this pitch: Imagine a world where, with the swipe of a hand (à la Minority Report), a beautiful dashboard appears in full-color glory showing exactly where the business opportunity lies. You zoom in and there are the details, with just enough – but not too many – numbers. They tell you exactly what needs to be done to win more, win bigger, and sell more frequently.

These tools and the promises that come with them are real. They are powerful and motivating, and they can be game-changers. But how often do you buy a shiny new tool, plug it into the systems you have, eager to dive in with sales managers, and begin to hear the “buts”: “But some of my team hasn’t submitted their updates for last quarter,” “But the numbers are wrong for that region; the data is wrong,” “But we don’t really know if those inputs are real,” and on and on.

It’s like bringing home a shiny new sports car only to realize the only fuel you have is the single gallon of low-octane gasoline sitting in the corner of your garage to top off your lawn mower. It’s enough to get it started, but certainly not to drive at top performance – and you know that, pretty soon, it’ll come sputtering to a stop.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to collect real information, in real time, and organize it in a useful way for the resulting analytics to be meaningful. Technology will get us part of the way – with GPS, email tracking, and call logging to passively collect data – but many important details still rely on user input. Here are some ways to take steps toward overcoming the barriers:

  1. Make sure the data you’re collecting is “real. Sure, establish an expectation for number of calls, meetings, or opportunities, but also make sure there are sufficient details or verify against calendars. Review recent information on a regular basis with managers so it doesn’t get brushed off as “bad data” at the end of a quarter.

  2. Encourage users to set a routine time for entering data. Different routines will work for different people, but choosing a regular time – like in the parking lot immediately after a meeting, during the car ride between meetings, or at the end of the work day – will help establish the right habits. Daily activity entry ensures the data is thorough and allows for real-time analysis and follow-up that can lead to insight about your sales cycle.

  3. Have a process for keeping data clean. The messier the closet, the less important and more difficult it feels to hang things up in the right places. Make it easy for salespeople to keep records up to date. This may mean creating some barriers to entering records themselves to prevent duplicates or it may mean having a vetting process that ranks third-party sources.

Even if data analytics and predictive modeling are not on your radar, get the data habits formed now so, when you are ready, the shiny new sports car will have all the fuel it needs to drive sales forward.

Nina Huang is an account manager for Dial-A-Note, a service that helps on-the-road salespeople get notes into their CRM systems just by speaking. She works with sales enablement teams to define best practices and achieve user adoption within their sales organizations.

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