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Analytical Advances Unlock the ‘How’ of Selling

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As we enter 2019, for the vast majority of sales organizations, the need to improve sales performance is top of mind because this year’s revenue target is higher than last year’s—in some cases significantly. At its most basic level, successful selling consists of two key elements: the “what” and the “how.” The what is covered in almost all sales methodologies: You need to gain access to the right stakeholders, thoroughly surface needs, differentiate from the competition, create a sense of urgency, sell value and avoid discounting, and so on.

Successful salespeople get the what of selling; they know that there are key tasks that need to be completed deal after deal to close business. What sales professionals often struggle with, though, is how to accomplish these selling objectives. The main problem is that the how is always evolving. Based on factors such as changes in the economy, the competitive landscape, and the political climate, messaging and best practices that were closing deals just yesterday might be ineffective today.

Fortunately, advances in CRM analytics are giving sales management new and detailed insights into the sales process that will allow them to proactively discover which sales tactics and strategies to double down on and which ones to improve or totally overhaul in order to optimize selling effectiveness.

Take, for example, Salesforce Einstein Opportunity Scoring. This analytics solution leverages AI to help sales teams prioritize which opportunities have the highest likelihood of closing at the beginning of the sales process. Each opportunity is given a score of 1 to 99 based on an analysis of account details, account history, the sales rep’s past and current win rates, etc., and the score is presented along with the reasoning behind it so that sales professionals and their managers can decide early on which deals to pursue and which to avoid.

As salespeople move into the sales process, solutions like Xvoyant and People.ai continuously track the activities in which buyers and sellers are engaged. In doing so, these types of systems can give sales management access to the metrics they need to understand which activities are moving deals through the pipeline (and which ones are not) and also identify which salespeople need additional coaching and in what areas.

Another way in which analytics is changing how the game is played is analyzing the conversations that salespeople are having with their customers. Solutions like Chorus.ai, Gong.io, and ExecVision.io record, transcribe, and scrutinize what is happening during virtual sales meetings that are conducted using web conferencing systems. These solutions can uncover which messages are most effective at showing value or overcoming objections. They can assess buyer interest and intent. They can also point to the specific aspects of selling that individual sales professionals are struggling with so managers can, again, be more effective at coaching.

Take the time to fully understand the CRM marketplace and you will find advances in analytics that are reshaping nearly all aspects of sales optimization. Hire Smarter is a predictive hiring solution designed specifically to help sales management improve sales and reduce turnover by hiring the right sales performers. Vendavo provides insights into how to get the maximum value out of your product pricing models. Einstein Forecasting employs AI to provide insights into how to increase forecast accuracy by leveraging more metrics and less hunches. Seismic and 5600blue can surface insights into how sales content usage is impacting close rates.

If your sales organization is not fully using analytics today, it is worth investing the time to understand what you can accomplish by doing so. Analytics can help sales management continuously debug the how of selling and quickly make the course corrections needed to hit their revenue targets for 2019 and beyond.

Jim Dickie is a research fellow for Sales Mastery, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking case study examples of how companies are leveraging technology to transform sales. He can be reached at jim@salesmastery.com or on Twitter @jimdickie.

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