If you've worked in sales for any length of time, you've likely heard the phrase, "Sales is a numbers game." It's true. A profitable sales organization relies on the careful analysis of success metrics, performance data, and sales reports.
If your sales reports are incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain wrong, the outcome is simple: misguided and ineffective selling.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent reporting mistakes before they impact your sales team. Following are 3 factors to consider that will help you generate more accurate sales reports and execute a more profitable sales strategy.
1. Sales Technology
The tools and platforms that make up your sales technology stack play a critical role in the accuracy of your sales reports. The right tools can simplify, automate, and streamline important parts of the sales process, leaving your team with more time to spend selling.
The wrong set of tools, however, can do the exact opposite, making important information more complex, obscure, and inaccessible. For this reason, you must carefully consider each tool you introduce into your tech stack. Consider the following three factors:
Ease of use and implementation: If a tool is difficult to use or integrate into an existing workflow, it will be of little use to your sales team. If your reps view a tool as a waste of time, they'll develop workarounds to bypass said platform. This leads to inconsistencies across teams, gaps in data, and overall chaos.
Instead of choosing the most expensive or flashiest tools, meet with key stakeholders to identify the tools and technologies that'll be easy to learn and use.
Integrations and flexibility: How well does each tool in your tech stack communicate with the others? Do they all share data? Does each platform use the same standardized metrics? If you don't know the answers to these questions, or the answer is no, it's time to reconsider your tech stack.
If your data or reporting metrics are kept siloed in different platforms, it's difficult to get a full view of sales performance. Reports pulled from disparate technologies are also much more susceptible to human error as numbers have to be pulled, combined, and sorted.
Features and automation: The goal of most tools is to simplify your job in some way—and in this context, the goal of your technology stack is to eliminate human error and streamline all processes that impact reporting. Consider tools that automate data collection, input, and analysis.
Of course, there are other considerations you must make when selecting sales enablement technology. But, the three key points mentioned above can drastically improve the quality and accuracy of your sales reports.
2. Company Alignment
Depending on the size and structure of your company, there are multiple departments and teams that impact sales success. In order to ensure sales reporting accuracy, each of these teams must be in alignment. These aren't just teams within the sales department—sales and marketing alignment is critical, too.
Think of it this way: a lead enters the top of your sales funnel and follows some version of the buyer's journey before ultimately becoming a customer. Any team or department that influences this process must work closely together to ensure consistency across the board.
Here's how you could approach this process:
Strategize with leadership: Initiate company alignment by meeting with your leadership team. Discuss primary goals and objectives for the company and inquire about the types of reporting each team member would like to see.
The goal is to get every department leader on the same page. Starting at the top with this discussion will ensure every department is involved and taken into consideration during any changes made to reporting.
Standardize your metrics: Before you can get to reporting, you must decide on several crucial items, such as company-wide goals, KPI’s, and the sales metrics used to determine success. Get specific here. Any ambiguity or confusion will ultimately lead you down the path toward inaccuracies.
Using the same goals and metrics across teams and departments makes it easier to standardize workflows and facilitates better insight into the success and failures of a business.
Study your results: Even after agreeing upon goals and metrics, your job isn't done. Unfortunately, reporting accuracy isn't a "set it and forget it" type of task. Instead, you must meet with the same leadership team to discuss results, iron out discrepancies, and further optimize the reporting process.
Although inaccurate sales reports happen for a multitude of reasons, confusion and cross-department inconsistency are both big contributors. By aligning your different teams and prioritizing communication, you proactively prevent careless reporting mistakes.
3. Data Quality
In sales specifically, prospect and customer data is critical to the success of your outreach and follow-up processes. Without this information, it would be impossible for your business to identify potential buyers, craft the messaging to connect with them, and ultimately convert them into a paying customer.
Whether you're working with incomplete or inconsistent data to craft your reports or to reach out to your next prospect, low quality data can stand in the way of almost any essential business function. Consider these statistics:
- 62% of organizations rely on marketing data that's up to 40% inaccurate
- Up to 25% of B2B database contacts contain critical errors
- 40% of business objectives fail due to inaccurate data
- It costs $1 to verify a record as it's entered, $10 to scrub and cleanse it later, and $100 if nothing is done
Now, CRM data and the data often used to create sales reports are drastically different. What does a prospect phone number have to do with measuring a team's ability to achieve quota attainment?
Consider this: the majority of sales enablement tools provide sales intelligence, pipeline management, workflow automation, document management, and so much more. But, in order for that functionality to operate correctly, these tools require complete and correct CRM data. After all, things like lead scoring, lead routing, and automated follow-up are triggered by one or more of a contact's data points.
It's important to prioritize internal data health because of this. Whether you conduct a manual database audit or work with a professional contact data provider, it's crucial to regularly review and update your CRM data before it begins to decay. And make no mistake, your data will decay. In fact, even the most conservative estimates cite that B2B data decays at a minimum rate of 30% a year.
In our increasingly competitive sales environment, most organizations are turning to a data-driven sales strategy. This essentially means entire departments rely on data and reporting to inform each and every sales decision. As a result, it's never been more important to have access to accurate sales reports.
Little mistakes will inevitably slip through the cracks, but with a little forethought and communication, you'll be able to avoid the more catastrophic reporting mistakes.
Don't let your sales reports wreak havoc on your business. Keep the aforementioned considerations in the back of your mind and your entire organization will benefit.
About the author: Molly Clarke is a Senior Marketing Manager at ZoomInfo, a leading B2B contact database that helps companies accelerate growth and profitability. Molly writes for ZoomInfo's sales and marketing blog on topics related to sales, marketing, and recruiting.