An original support team veteran, I recently switched gears to start a new position within the SalesLoft team, tasked specifically with the goal of becoming the guardian of our sales data. In the last few months, the role has grown into a sales operations role that we like to call the SalesLoft Data Scientist, or, as I like to refer to it, the resident sales nerd.
What is a sales nerd? To best understand, you must first know one thing: managing sales data is hard. It needs to be sorted, laundered, and organized — and it’s never-ending. So where does a sales nerd start? What are the best tools to help with this project? What does success look like?
To answer these questions, I created a 90-day plan to document, measure, analyze and improve our sales data. To say the least, it’s been a journey filled with plenty of epic victories, and a few hair-pulling frustrations — but what’s success without a little struggle?
Here are a few of those struggles I’ve encountered that only another sales nerd would understand, and the solutions I’ve learned along the way:
1. There’s a mountain of sales data to clean.
The Struggle? Looking ahead at a mountain of sales data to manage, where do you start?
The Solution: Create a bit-by-bit plan. I started by learning the basics: what are all the sales data sources, what feeds them, and how are they touched throughout the sales process? I then kept tabs of all of our sales technology, and created flowcharts for easy reference of the data flow all the way from top of the funnel marketing to renewal. From there, I measured the current state of our sales data, analyzed it to see the gaps, and found ways to improve based on my findings.
The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius
2. The data scrubbing job is never over.
The Struggle? Cleaning sales data is constant — especially when there are so many inputs from too many different sources.
The Solution: Accept help from third party apps and automation. Rules like Salesforce’s de-duping rule have allowed me to be more proactive on the sales data coming in, and by preventing duplicates upon creation, the rule also encourages merging practices. Then, by managing the data at a high level, using an installed data quality dashboard package, I can see where the pain points are in the sales data, and what the potential causes for those pains could be.
3. There’s an app for everything! Seriously… for everything.
The Struggle? You just budget-approved a handful of third party apps to help you wrangle your 80’s hair-like Salesforce data — congratulations! But wait! Now you have 10 new apps… new tools you need to manage… all to help you manage your sales data. Am I talking circles?!
The Solution: Keep the apps to a minimum. Tools should only be used if they truly help you, and make your sales process easier. For example, with lead routing, data enrichment, and account-based targeting, we use LeanData, Social 123 and, EverString, respectively. Clean, simple, and easy to manage.
4. Getting reps to fill in data fields makes you feel like a nagging mom.
The Struggle? Frontline sales reps are much less concerned with sales data integrity than they are with hitting their numbers.
The Solution: Come up with creative solutions to motivate them. Minimize the number of required fields within their CRM without sacrificing any sales data that your organization needs. Enforce these fields by making them mandatory, normalize them by using pick lists, and ensure they’re being filled out by using validation rules. Then, streamline the rest of the data by using process builder or enrichment.
5. What is the meaning of all this sales data?!
The Struggle? What is the one true definition for your metrics? Keyword here being “one,” i.e. one singular definition. Too many times does the meaning of sales data get lost when the data is reported in too many ways.
The Solution: Precision of not only the data, but of the language, is key. Make sure all stakeholders are aligned on a metric. This determines precisely what sales data needs to be collected in order to be meaningful to the overall organizational goal. Hold weekly meetings to get alignment from the start, and stick to the original metrics.
In fact, we created the eBook, “The Essential Guide to Sales Analytics,” to help prioritize your metrics from beginner’s analytics, all the way to the intermediate and advanced level.
The true value in analytics and predictive sales isn’t just simply a sales nerd making smart decisions. It’s about improving overall team efficiency, and increasing value of your business processes as a whole.
This advantage gives your company a competitive edge in the market place, where sales data is the foundation of all information. It’s just a matter of the quality of your data, from completeness, to validity and accuracy. But any true sales nerd can break through the struggles of sales data management and find the solution to achieve analytical success!
Sales operations is the glue that holds the sales team together. In fact, it’s safe to say that sales operations leaders are the true masters of the sales universe in the modern age.
Learn exactly what sales operations is, how it works, and how it can be crucial to your sales organization by downloading our free eBook, Sales Operations Leaders: Masters Of The Universe.