Imagine for a moment that you’re the general manager of your favorite professional baseball team.
To prepare your team for a big game, you refer to historical data to give tips to your players and strategize about how they should play.
Then, as the game starts, you don’t pace the dugout, re-strategize as the game goes on, and coach your players based on their current performance. Instead, you go to your office and sit at your desk. You spend the game reviewing that historical data and stopping by the dugout from time to time to check up how your players are doing – but you never see the score, their batting averages, or their ERAs during the game. In fact, your players don’t even know those numbers. They’re playing the game based solely on their historical data knowledge.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “That’s ridiculous! Most of baseball strategy comes from real-time decisions.” And, of course, you’re right. But in the case of the baseball manager above, who doesn’t know the current score and can’t strategize for the current game based on it, is essentially what traditional Business Intelligence (BI) is for sales managers.
Traditional BI compiles historical data for manual analysis (using Excel, in the case of most sales professionals).
Real-time BI compares current activities and events with historical patterns for immediate and actionable analysis.
A lot of sales teams are accustomed to delayed analysis on their performance and results, but times are changing – and the sales world is moving closer and closer to real-time BI and data transparency. For example, modern BI systems (like InsightSquared) have update times of less than an hour and are working hard to decrease lag time to just seconds – but some of the older, traditional BI systems like Domo have data latency of 24+ hours. How can you strategize, coach, and sell to your full potential when your data is over a day old?
Today’s best sales teams use modern BI so they have the most up-to-date data possible supporting their strategic decisions. Up-to-date data dramatically helps your sales team…
…maximize sales efficiency
Efficiency increase is one of the biggest advantages of real-time BI – and this is especially true for sales teams, whose success depends both on how well they perform their activities and how well they know their current opportunities.
Does one of your sales contests involve making 100 calls by noon? Did your reps make their goal for the week, and therefore deserve to start happy hour at 5pm? It’s 5 minutes before your weekly sales meeting: is your team on track to hit their monthly revenue goal right now? The answers to your time-sensitive questions require real-time analytics.
…initiate corrective actions immediately
Real-time BI allows you to minimize the lag time between finding out about an issue and addressing it. If your starting pitcher gives up 4 runs and 3 walks in the first inning, you would want to know immediately, wouldn’t you? Whether a sales prospecting rep is having trouble booking meetings or an opportunity in one of your closer’s pipelines is going stale, you want to see these issues loud and clear so you can help fix them as soon as possible.
On the same note, automated actions and alerts are your friend. Set up your CRM to automatically flag opportunities for you when they have been inactive for a certain period of time so you can easily identify at-risk opportunities when you review your pipeline every day.
Knowing the real-time results and activities of every single member of your sales team allows you to take more risks and experiment. Remember, if you aren’t regularly experimenting with your sales process – by trying new sales scripts, testing different asks, A/B testing subject lines, and so on – then you will eventually fall behind your more entrepreneurial competitors..
The ability to watch an experiment’s progress in real time puts your mind at ease – you can check in on the project whenever you want and you’ll be able to draw conclusions more quickly. If it’s failing, put a halt to it. If it’s working well, add more resources to the effort. Stretch yourself while maintaining confidence in your budget spends and your bookings trajectory.
As the late Peter Drucker said once, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” And the sooner you can measure it, the better.