The Beginner’s Guide to a Data-Driven B2B Sales Strategy

data-driven b2b sales strategyThe importance of data cannot be understated in the modern sales landscape. Gone are the days of strategies based on instincts and educated. Now, data and analytics reign supreme when it comes to running a successful sales organization. But here’s the thing– the world of data and analytics has made massive strides in recent years and many organizations have yet to catch up.

Maybe you’re new to data-driven sales, or maybe you just need to brush up on how to leverage data as part of your sales strategy. Today’s blog post is for you! Keep reading for our guide to a data-driven sales strategy.

What is a data-driven sales strategy?

On the surface, a data-driven sales strategy is just what it sounds like – using data to inform all of your sales practices and decision-making processes. It may be a simple concept to define, but it can be a challenging sales strategy to adopt. Being data-driven– rather than simply having data– means not just collecting data, but analyzing it and putting your insights into action.

Even companies who have access to data struggle to use it effectively. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 40% of companies say that scattered information and poor visibility into data impact their sales organization.
  • 56% of sales executives express dissatisfaction with their ability to deliver valuable, data-driven insights.

Becoming data-driven isn’t a small transition to make. It requires a distinct, detailed plan, and input from every department within your company. Keep reading to learn the steps you must take to get your data-driven strategy up and running.

1. Get all stakeholders on board.

A data-driven strategy starts from the top down. Therefore, if company leadership doesn’t prioritize or communicate the importance of data-driven decision making, this strategy will never catch on.

Securing executive buy-in is easier said than done. But with the right approach, you can demonstrate the value of a data-driven sales strategy in just a few steps. Here’s what we recommend:

Focus on revenue:

A data-driven strategy can benefit your organization in a number of ways beyond boosting your revenue. But, not all of those reasons will sway your executives. They want to know how data-driven sales will make your company more money. So, be sure to come to initial strategy meetings with clear projections and goals that quantify the impact of your plan.

Analyze the data you have:

Dig into your customer database, your CRM, and any other marketing automation or sales enablement tools. Gather and analyze this data so you can prove how effective data-driven sales can be.

For example: Let’s say you export data on your best customers. You analyze this data and notice a correlation between average deal size and lead source. Buyers who were initially contacted via cold call spent the most money with your organization. Then, based on the number of reps you have and the number of people within your target audience, you predict you could double revenue just by hiring ten more outbound sales reps.

Not only does this prove the effectiveness of data-driven sales, but it also demonstrates how easy and attainable a data-driven strategy can be.

Find case studies:

Perhaps you don’t have a ton of sales data at your disposal—that’s okay, everyone has to start somewhere. Consider researching other companies in your industry that implemented data-driven strategies. Use their results to show executives what kind of impact they can expect if they embrace the power of data.

Once all key stakeholders are on board, you must stress the importance of a data-driven mindset. It’s not enough to agree upon a strategy. You must also communicate the value of data within every department of your company—customer success, sales, marketing, IT, HR, etc. Everyone plays a vital role in data collection and maintenance and every department has an impact on your company’s revenue.

2. Collect and maintain high-quality data.

Here’s a crucial rule to keep in mind: A data-driven sales strategy will backfire if the data you’re using is inaccurate or incomplete.

Unfortunately, managing data quality is tougher than it sounds—data decays rapidly, particularly customer and prospect data. This happens for a number of reasons—a change in email address, a new phone number, promotions, layoffs, companies are bought. And the problem isn’t going away any time soon.

Want to know just how much bad data can hurt your organization? Check out these statistics:

  • Inaccurate data wastes 27.3% of sales reps’ time – or 546 hours a year for a full-time sales rep (source).
  • Fortune 1000 enterprises lose more money in operational inefficiency due to data quality issues than they spend on data warehouse and customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives (source).
  • Bad data in customer communications can negatively impact total revenue by as much as 25% (source).

As you can see, data hygiene needs to be a top priority. To make sure you’re starting on the right foot, we recommend you audit your current customer database and look for ways to improve your data collection methods. If you have a large budget at your disposal, your best bet is to partner with a data provider to automate the data maintenance process for you. But even if you’re a small company or startup, there are steps you can take to ensure data quality and consistency.

For a more in-depth look at sales and data maintenance, check out the following article: B2B Sales Intelligence: Bad Data and Sales

3. Invest in an integrated technology stack.

Technology plays a major role in data-driven sales – it’s the glue that holds everything together. If your tools don’t integrate with each other, you won’t be able to share your data across platforms, and that means you’ll likely lose track of important information.

For this reason, you must build your technology stack carefully, in a way that supports your data-driven sales objectives. Here’s what we recommend:

Examine your current technology stack:

What tools and technologies are you already using? Which ones are essential to your business and which ones can be replaced or removed altogether?

Prioritize integration:

Remember, if the tools you select don’t integrate, your team will have difficulty managing data as they go back and forth between platforms. This includes sales technology, marketing technology, and even customer service technology.

Involve your team:

Your sales reps will be the ones using the tools you select. So, consider their input before making any decisions. Sit down with your top reps and present the tools you are considering. Discuss their preferences, concerns, and what they’re looking for most in their technology stack.

4. Analyze and apply your data.

Data is only beneficial to your strategy if you know how to use it. Once you have a clear strategy, a healthy sales contact database, and integrated technologies, it’s finally time to use your data.

Every part of your sales strategy can be enhanced with data and there are thousands of valuable sales metrics to look at.  It can be a bit overwhelming at first. To help, we’ll look at some key areas where you can put your data to use.

Sales training:

Analyze data relating to your top performing sales reps and the onboarding programs they went through. See if you can identify trends that suggest that certain training practices create better sales reps and then use those trends to tweak your future training programs.

Productivity:

Look at how your reps are spending their time. How much time do they spending selling? How much time do they waste on menial tasks like data entry, scheduling meetings, and responding to emails? This information can inform your technology strategy and increase sales productivity as you can select tools that streamline your sales reps’ processes.

Lead scoring:

Lead scoring is a system in which you assign point values to each lead or prospect based on specific criteria for the purpose of prioritizing leads and improving outreach. By analyzing data, you can decide which data points indicate the likelihood of a purchase and assign them a higher point value. These data points may include demographics, point of entry, behavioral data, and more.

Personalize your outreach:

46% of B2B buyers say that tailored offers are an important element of a business relationship (source). Dig into your buyer personas and personalize your sales pitch to appeal to your prospects’ specific needs. 

Leverage social selling:

Collect data regarding prospects’ social media behavior – what platforms do they use, what content do they share, etc. Social media has become a key prospecting tool, and data can help you understand how to use these platforms more effectively.

Get better content from marketing:

Sales reps often struggle to find relevant content to offer prospects. Analyze customer data to learn what content prospects respond best to, and communicate these insights with your marketing team.

The list doesn’t end there. Data can be applied to every aspect of your sales strategy. Get creative!

5. Provide ongoing training.

A data-driven strategy isn’t something you can just set and forget. The way you use data will inevitably evolve as your business changes and new technologies emerge. Your sales team will need consistent training to stay up to date. Consider these statistics:

  • High-performing businesses are twice as likely to provide ongoing sales training (source).
  • Sales managers spend an average of 5% of their time coaching, despite the fact that sales coaching increases productivity up to 88% (source).
  • More than 22% of companies that reported “low” training and coaching support also reported a decline in sales revenue of over 20% (source).

Ongoing training is beneficial to any sales team, but it’s especially essential to a data-driven strategy. Not only does training keep your reps up to speed, but it also enforces a data-driven mindset. We recommend that you invest in training strategically—using data of course.

Analyze the performance of your reps and also the average sales cycle. Is there a particular point where most reps get tripped up or lose deals? Focus your training on those areas.

Key Takeaways about Data and Your B2B Sales Strategy

There you have it – your guide to becoming a data-driven sales organization! It may sound like a lot to grasp, but remember– it’s easier to access and analyze data than ever before. If you get your leadership on board and equip your team with the right tools, it won’t take long before you start reaping the rewards of a data-driven sales strategy. Time to get started!