Budgeting, Planning & Forecasting

- 5 min read

Driving Effective Sales Performance Management with Data

The constant pressure on sales teams to deliver results is nothing new, but the approach that different sales organizations take to achieving targets varies greatly. Proactivity in the sales process can make the difference between poor and outstanding results, but sales professionals in many organizations do not have the tools required to provide the detailed insights they really need to achieve it with ease.

Driving effectiveness in the sales department not only requires a sales incentive management system, but also the provision of accurate, timely data to sales reps in order for them to identify the right course of action at the right time. In this blog we explore how a sales performance management solution can achieve this, using the example of one of the world’s leading electronics companies – Ricoh.

Data challenges within sales departments

Think about the amount of data a business may hold on any one customer, and where it might be stored:

  • A CRM system, containing contact details, interactions with the customer, won orders, and current opportunities to name a few
  • A Customer Service platform, monitoring aftersales delivery of services
  • An ERP system, holding details of past or current orders and the assets a customer has access to
  • A support system, holding details of customer support tickets or the current support status

This list is not exhaustive but highlights the number of potential sources of information which may be useful for furthering the sales process. From a sales rep’s perspective, finding all of this information presents a time-consuming challenge in itself, never mind comparing the different factors to identify the current position of the customer and the chance of them purchasing something new.

It is likely that several ad-hoc spreadsheets also come into play as reps try to monitor their pipeline and keep track of where their customers and prospects are at, requiring regular manual updates, which create further time delays.

Multiply the time spent by each rep by the total size of the sales team, and the inefficiencies start to show – not ideal when you consider that the team’s primary function is to sell more as quickly as possible.

What is sales performance management?

Gartner defines sales performance management (SPM) as “a suite of operational and analytical functions that automate and unite back-office operational sales processes.” By bringing information together, and through the automation of processes which may traditionally be time-consuming, SPM solutions make it easier for sales teams to gain clarity over the entire sales process and focus on selling, while giving managers full visibility of how sales teams are performing across all business entities.

In an ideal world, all relevant customer data needs to be brought together for sales performance management to be at its most effective, which can be achieved using a unified analysis, simulation, and planning solution.

What are the benefits of a sales performance management solution?

To explore the benefits of sales performance management, let’s look at the example of leading electronics company Ricoh. The company’s European arm has utilized the Board decision-making platform as a unified solution to consolidate customer data from its 25 operating entities, including 4.6 million customer records, 5 million sales activities, 750,000 open sales opportunities, and over 9 million service activities.

Due to past acquisitions, the Ricoh Europe previously had several approaches to the sales process in different countries and the above data was held in multiple systems and locations, making it difficult to get the full picture to drive sales performance.

Now, through the use of Board as a centralized sales performance management solution, the business has:

  • Realized a 360 degree view of every customer with complete information from all data sources, making it easy for sales reps and managers to understand the profile of each customer without any manual work
  • Given each sales rep full visibility of their pipeline and the ability to evaluate it in detail through a set of key KPIs, highlighting top opportunities to help drive them forward
  • Optimized the sales process to enable easy comparison of sales performance and targets, help sales reps identify which customers to visit, and suggest additional activities which should be undertaken to achieve assigned objectives
  • Provided a user-friendly, consumable salesperson report, supported by weekly one-to-one meetings with management, showing key KPIs around opportunity creation, wins, and pipeline, helping salespeople to more proactively and efficiently manage their activities
  • Increased the accuracy of sales forecasts by enabling the comparison of historic sales insights and forecasts to be compared with actual results in real time, driving continuous improvement
  • Identified customers who need more attention, based on a combination of KPIs and analysis of the feedback from the last six months’ worth of customer visits

These factors combine to deliver a transformation of the entire sales process, bringing together front and back office data in a way that is useful for driving sales performance. You can read the full Ricoh sales performance management case study here.

The benefits don’t stop there. Sales performance management solutions also make it possible to manage the allocation of sales goals across different territories, channels, sales reps, and product lines in a top-down or bottom-up approach. The link between all data sources enable this allocation to be carried out while taking into account both historical performance and predicted forecasts, providing full visibility at every stage.

Improving sales performance: the bottom line

Every organization has access to a wealth of information on its customer and prospect accounts, but it is often difficult to access without considerable manual effort. Through the implementation of a sales performance management approach, leadership teams can empower both themselves and their sales teams to access information instantly, driving transparency across customer accounts at every stage of the sales pipeline and beyond, and improving the efficiency of sales forecasting and reporting activities business-wide.

To learn more about using Board as a sales performance management solution, watch our webinar on Sales and Marketing performance.

One reply

  1. Mary says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

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