In the early 2000s, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and assistant general manager Peter Brand replaced all their star baseball players. Why?, many demanded to know. They were responding to the insights from a data-driven strategy called “sabermetrics.”
Sabermetrics had been around for a few decades already. But Oakland Athletics leadership had applied this statistical approach with such success and commitment, this once-underdog baseball team made the playoffs for four straight seasons.
The potential of a data-driven approach has not been lost on selling organizations. In a NewVantage Partners report, almost all responding B2B executives indicated they were increasing the pace of their investments in big data and AI. Yet selling organizations are still struggling to transform to actual data- and insights-driven cultures and processes.
In fact, despite increased investments in data technology, identifying data-driven firms have been on the decline from 37.1% in 2017 to 32.4% in 2018 to 31% in 2019. The struggle is not with adopting the technology. People and process issues continue to create barriers to transformation.
To transform your selling organization successfully into the data-driven age, your leadership must focus less on the technology and more on the humans. Successful cultural and process adoption comes down to steadfast leadership, organizational alignment and effective sales enablement. Only then will you see your teams translating insights into actions — into successful outcomes for both your organization and its buyers.
Data-driven selling is not some fleeting trend. Decisions and actions based on data and insights continue to be mostly superior to those based on intuition, emotion and experience alone. And the proof of the success insights-driven companies realize are compelling in and of themselves:
- Forrester found in a 2021 study that insights-driven organizations are 8.5 times more likely to report at least 20% year-over-year growth.
- Salesforce research uncovered that high-performing salespeople are 2.8 times more likely to use AI-enabled tools than lower-performing salespeople.
- McKinsey insights show that B2B companies are realizing the most growth from data analytics and AI in lead generation, people management, maximizing buyer lifetime value and pricing.
Selling insights are not some internal trick up your organization’s sleeve either. They can also help you better Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™ for the benefit of your buyers too. With greater insights into buyers and their needs, sales teams can optimize solutions and the buyer’s journey. Sales leadership can align sellers to territories more effectively. While salespeople get insight into how best to use their time and skills, they target organizations that are more in sync with your ideal client profile, they end up wasting less of both their and unqualified leads’ time, and they, ultimately, convert more leads to opportunities and more pursuits to wins. Connections become more meaningful, and value-exchange increases and can be repeatable.
INSPIRE A DATA-DRIVEN SELLING CULTURE THAT SERVES — INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY
Amassing data — and even taking the essential next step of extracting the key insights — are useless unless sellers take action based on them, for the right Seek to Serve reasons.
The Oakland Athletics would not have found success with their data-based strategy if Beane and Brand had not actually made decisions based on the statistical insights. They easily could have faltered under the criticisms of peers who were adamant about staying in the status quo. But they did not. They led the way to a new winning culture and approach for their organization.
For selling organizations, this requires leadership to drive the adoption, the organization to align to this new approach, and sales to be enabled with the right insights and resources.
- Consistent Leadership and Accountability: In the noted research, many companies that had been finding success with a data-driven selling approach did so when their leadership strongly advocated and led the adoption of insights top-down. Learn more about how to adopt the Chief Reminding Officer Approach for effective leadership.
- Organizational Alignment: Sales, marketing and product teams need access to your selling data and, more importantly, the insights your leadership extracts from it to inform decisions. Then, make sure your teams are talking to each other about how they are and should be translating the data, and keep refining from there. This cross-discipline organizational oversight will help teams continue to provide the most value for one another — and for your buyer. Learn more to close the gap.
- Sales Enablement: It is never enough to just create a selling resource or tool — nor even to advocate for its use as a leader. You need to enable your selling teams to actually use the resource as your leadership intends and as best serves your buyer. Learn more about the must-have elements in a sales enablement program.
INFUSE SELLING INSIGHTS INTO YOUR ORGANIZATION TO DRIVE SUSTAINABLE REVENUE PERFORMANCE
Apply your insights to the people who matter the most: your buyers. Contact us for support in developing your ideal client profile as a critical first step to aligning your organization and empowering your buyer-facing professionals.