Elevating the Art of Selling with Science: Sales Reps Suffer from Data Overload and Information Scarcity

Googling “The Art of Selling” returns 4.68 million hits. “The Science of Selling,” on the other hand, returns 1.28 million. I’m a believer that there is an art to effectively selling, but this simple search underscores the fact that business professionals place a lot more emphasis on the soft side of selling rather than the science of selling.

Sales representatives are confident that they know how to sell, but struggle to perform the analysis to determine to whom they should sell. A recent CSO Insight Study further validates this statement. According to the study, 45 percent of sales reps need help figuring out which accounts to prioritize. Even after the accounts are ranked, the challenges continue: 42 percent of sales reps feel they don’t have the right information before making a sales call. Despite the fact that the Internet, social networking and CRM systems provide us with unprecedented amounts of data, nearly half of the sales reps surveyed still don’t know which prospects to call, and how to prepare for the calls they do have. The upshot: The data exists, but no one knows what to do with it. Sales organizations don’t lack data – they lack actionable information.

Data, Data Everywhere

Sales organizations are swimming in data. Some 2.5 quintillion (that’s 2.5 x 1018!) bytes of data are created every day. With the proliferation of data, it’s no surprise that 82 percent of sales teams report feeling challenged by the amount of research needed before making a call. This challenge stems from the reality that CRM systems such as Salesforce.com are doing a great job of collecting data, but the systems come up short when turning this data into actionable information. Some basic search functionality is available, but more advanced analytics, including customer comparisons, ranked opportunity lists and analytics involving multiple search criteria – reports filtered on customer, product, geography, etc. – are just not possible in today’s CRM environments. To take sales to the next level, CRM data needs to be transformed, married with other data sources, and converted into analytics that will guide the sales process.

Big Data Sales Strategies Increase the Top Line

Companies that adopt science-based selling drive impressive results. A McKinsey analysis of more than 250 engagements over a five-year period revealed that companies that put data at the center of marketing and sales decisions improved their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15 – 20 percent. That adds up to $150 – $200 billion of additional value based on a global annual marketing spend of an estimated $1 trillion. More generally, McKinsey reports that companies that use big data and analytics effectively show productivity rates and profitability that is 5 – 6 percent higher than that of their peers. These types of returns and competitive advantages should motivate sales leaders to move toward data-driven, optimized selling. PROS, the leader in the big data pricing and sales effectiveness space, can help sales organizations elevate their art form by integrating science.

Do you view sales as a science or as an art? Do you have a different perspective on selling and sales effectiveness? Let’s discuss!

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