Making Sense of Data to Drive More Profitable Sales

December 11, 2018 | Becca Sundal

“Data-driven” anything – company, culture, strategy, decision-making – is the ubiquitous buzz word of the moment. The dictionary definition of data-driven is “determined by or dependent on the collection or analysis of data.”

How do you apply this data-driven approach in sales and use it to increase revenue & returns? First things first – you must have the right tools in place to deliver meaningful and actionable data to sales teams and enable them to use it effectively and efficiently. One of the conclusions from a recent Harvard Business Review study is that in addition to aggregating and sharing internal data, taking advantage of data from external providers is invaluable for better and more strategic targeting of customers and prospects. Moreover, DNB summarizes a recent study by McKinsey, saying that it “…suggests companies who leverage customer insights outperform their peers by 85% in sales growth and over 25% in gross margin.”

Your customers are looking at their own data in the form of metrics and KPIs  — as an organization and on an individual level, they have goals to meet & exceed. Realizing that the amount of data you have access to doesn’t matter, but how you use it does – what are the best ways a salesperson can use customer data, metrics & KPIs to build a compelling narrative?

The first thing to remember is that data is an illustration of a story — it doesn’t tell you why something’s happening, but it’s the picture that accompanies the text.  Storytelling has long been a trait of successful salespeople – personalizing the client’s story by weaving their data and goals into sales presentations can help close more sales and drive profitable revenue growth.

Gather and focus on what’s relevant  — don’t over-analyze and get bogged down in data that isn’t applicable to the story you want to tell. If your solution is one that recognizes customer behavioral patterns and helps to reduce your client’s customer churn rate, then focus on how a reduced customer churn rate can help to stabilize and grow revenue. Or if you sell inventory management solutions that optimize stock levels and locations – focus on how it will improve days in inventory & reduce the amount of cash your customer has tied up in working capital. Everything else is irrelevant and will only serve to divert attention from the key issues that are significant for the client.

Context is crucial to storytelling — one data point in a vacuum is meaningless; using a 10% profit margin as a data point for your customer is worthless unless you have something to compare it to. How does 10% compare to previous years? How are its competitors and the industry performing? Look at trends over time, industry norms, competitive analysis – know how to spot anomalies and bad data. Make accurate comparisons and deductions from your data analysis – it’s important to understand what the data means and what it’s measuring.

Present the right data & story to the right person  know your audience, understand their persona and what’s going to be of interest to them. In our example above, customer behavior patterns and reducing customer churn is an appropriate topic of discussion for a Marketing executive, but maybe not so much for someone in Supply Chain. On the other hand, inventory management probably isn’t very interesting for Marketing, but a Supply Chain or Merchandising executive would find that discussion appealing.

Call to action: gather data on your client from internal & external sources and practice writing and presenting your story using relevant data, context, and messaging appropriate for your buyer.


Interested in learning more about leveraging data to increase sales? Check out what Client IQ can do for you. 

Posted in Selling Strategies