Zorian Rotenberg, VP Sales here at InsightSquared, recently wrote an article referring to our sales reps as “mini-CEOs,” a phrase he borrowed from his friend and sales thought leader Aaron Ross.

But what exactly does it mean to make your employees “mini-CEOs”?

First and foremost, it means empowering your employees to run and analyze all their own business. In sales, this means your sales reps own their quota number, and they have open access to all their sales performance data so they can monitor and analyze it on their own.

The pace of business accelerating and business leaders are feeling increased pressure to make good decisions quickly. By delegating sales analysis to your reps, you:

  • Inspire your reps to care as much about the business – and their business – as you do.

  • Create a culture where your reps inspire you often, rather than one where you need to constantly inspire them.

  • Build their sales skills and invest in their professional development, which leads to better performance and higher job satisfaction.

  • Make processes, sales, and revenue more predictable.

  • Take work and pressure off your own shoulders.

To turn your sales reps into “mini-CEOs,” here are the steps you need to take:

Step 1: Get a real-time, self-service sales analytics tool for your team

It’s simple: sales reps can’t track and analyze their own business with total autonomy without a sales analytics tool. Individual sales reports can take hours to build in Excel, and your sales reps are too busy calling contacts and giving demos to spend the time building reports with data that could change dramatically within the hour.

There are plenty of sales analytics tools out there that are either real-time or self-service (or neither!). But because of the pressure to make decisions faster, you need your data to be updated as often as possible. Stick to solutions that update your data about once per hour, like InsightSquared, rather than once per day, like Domo. (Read more about the benefits of real-time Business Intelligence here.)

And if your sales reps are going to run and analyze their own business, your sales analytics tool needs to be easy to work with. Some analytics tools require a dedicated employee to help run them and make sure everything comes together smoothly – but if your sales reps can’t get the reports they need without help, then they won’t be able to run their own business efficiently.

(Try Out InsightSquared) »

Step 2: Get rep buy-in

Once you have your real-time, self-serving analytics tool in place, you need to teach your reps how to use it. But first, more importantly, you need to teach them why to use it.

Don’t just launch into a grand list of all the amazing benefits of sales analytics. As it turns out, getting rep buy-in is much easier said than done. It can be daunting to change entire processes – especially for veteran reps who are used to a certain way of doing things.

First, make your teaching style a dialogue rather than a lecture. Show them, don’t just tell them, exactly how the new system will help solve existing problems and make them better at their jobs. To get you started, think about how your sales reps will be able to…

  • Organize all their important lead and opportunity information in one place.

  • Pull up important information on the opportunities they’re working easily.

  • Generate reports and perform trend analyses instantaneously (depending on the tool).

  • Dig deep into every open, closed-won, and closed-lose opportunity in their current and historical pipeline.

  • Create much more accurate forecasts.

  • Diagnose issues in their sales process more easily and use this information to generate more sales.

(Click here for more tips on getting rep buy-in.)

Step 3: Create a sales training program to introduce the new system & processes

Getting your reps to buy in to using the new tool will be easier once they start getting their hands dirty. Counteract the chaos of adopting a whole new system and process by implementing a well-structured, formal sales training program.

Include sessions on subjects like:

Be positive and encouraging throughout the transition. Let your reps know it’s OK to make mistakes and ask a lot of questions – in fact, the more questions they ask, the faster they’ll understand how to use the tool.

Step 4: Cultivate a culture of transparency

Your BI system enables you to create a culture where all performance data, from individual to company-wide, is available for review by anyone in the company.

By democratizing the data, you reflect the democratic values of intellectual autonomy, equality, and trust – all the while, increasing employee engagement, creating a data-driven environment, and aligning the sales team with the company’s mission and goals.

For private businesses, transparent information could include things like:

  • Every sales rep’s sales performance metrics & how their results compare to their goals

  • Sales team-wide historical pipeline data

  • Company-wide short- and long-term goals

Data transparency will sharpen your reps’ focus, shorten the gap between rep-level and senior-level employees, motivate them, and keep them accountable.

Step 5: Use the sales analytics tool to coach your sales reps

It will take a while for your reps to get used to the new sales analytics tool, so you’ll need to constantly work through it with them until they’re totally comfortable. Use it at every single meeting – group and individual – to reinforce its everyday relevance. For examples of what reports to include in your sales meetings, check out these two posts on how we run our weekly sales meetings:

Coach by the numbers using sales analytics instead of relying on intuition or anecdotes. Backing up your feedback with data is more convincing and relevant to your reps – and it will make your coaching sessions more targeted and efficient.


What other steps do you think sales managers and VPs should take to turn their sales reps into “mini-CEOs”?

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