I’m happy to report that virtually every B2B sales operation we interact with through our research is working hard to make their sales team more data-driven. It seems that most groups have embraced the concept of data-driven sales and are attempting to make the promise a reality in their businesses.
But how do you know if you’re on the right track? How do you know you’re providing the right kind of information? How do know for sure that you’re not just providing “nice to know” data that can’t actually move the needle?
Here’s something to think about…
In most businesses, there’s an expected ramp-up period for new sales reps to reach a certain level of productivity. Depending on the nature of the business and industry, this period may range from as little as a couple of weeks to as long as six months or more.
Not yet secure in their positions (or their paychecks), these new salespeople are likely to be highly motivated to prove themselves as quickly as possible. And not yet being familiar with the customers, products, and buying dynamics involved, they’re likely to take full advantage of all the help and guidance available to them.
As such, new sales reps can be a great test of your data-driven guidance. And changes in the average ramp-up times for these new hires can speak volumes about the efficacy of the guidance you’re providing.
For example, “nice to know” customer information and sales data can’t help new sales reps become productive any more quickly. This type of information simply does not have that kind of power or leverage. As a result, new reps will still have to figure everything out for themselves and your average ramp-up times aren’t likely to budge.
On the other hand, if the guidance you’re providing is highly prescriptive, action-oriented, and focused on the next likely sales opportunities, there’s less trial and error required and new sales reps will be hitting the ground running.
With this type of guidance, you should expect that your ramp-up times will be shrinking. In fact, some best-in-class sales operations have reported 50 percent reductions in ramp-up time as a result of providing this type of guidance.
So if you’re not sure you’re providing the right kind of data-driven guidance to your salespeople, take a look at your ramp-up times for new reps.
If those ramp-up times have been shrinking, that’s probably a good indication that you’re on the right track. And if those ramp-up times aren’t budging? Well, you can’t fix a problem until you know you have one, right?