Attention, sales leaders! In case you missed it, to win in 2023, your reps must leverage digital selling tactics and listen to buyer signals. Today’s buyer is empowered and increasingly reliant on self-discovery through digital experiences. Sales leaders need to adapt fast to win, retain, and grow revenue in this increasingly turbulent market, but the foundation for these strategies requires a comprehensive understanding of data.

Of course, this is easier said than done. In Forrester’s Marketing Survey, 2023, B2B respondents cite lack of trust in the quality of data supporting analysis (40%), insufficient understanding by their teams (39%), and too many unconnected data sources (38%) as the top obstacles to executing measurement and analytics. As sales and marketing increasingly collaborate in a go-to-customer approach, leaders of both functions need to work together to strategically address these gaps in competency, consistency, and quality if they want to remain competitive.

Sales leaders who are just starting to leverage more data and create an insights-driven sales practice should start by:

  1. Taking a tour of data sources. Large organizations often have many different unconnected data sources, some of which may contain duplicated or even conflicting customer data. Understand the access and output of these data sources. If your sellers don’t have access to the data or can’t make sense of the data in its current formatting, you will need to set up a data pipeline that will feed them relevant and timely insights that they can actually use.
  2. Identifying usable insights and techniques. Sales leaders who are just beginning to build out their insights-driven sales strategy will need to learn more about the different types of insights they want to leverage. While figuring out the appropriate terms for insights and learning the language of analytics may seem like a herculean task, Forrester’s periodic table of data insights is a very helpful tool to map different techniques to goals. For instance, the figure below shows the part of the table that aligns to quantifying data.

    Sales leaders should use these terms to
    collaborate with analytics teams, create a strategy to gather sales-specific insight on an ongoing basis, and then use these insights to iterate and refine the processes of their revenue engine.

  3. Future-proofing the organization’s data mindset. As sales leaders are beginning to capitalize more on data, regulations are tightening up. Don’t let this deter you from using data! Be smart about your sales data strategy, and don’t fall into the trap of second- and third-party data reliance. It’s risky, expensive, and unsustainable even in the best-case scenario. First-party data, or data that you collect yourself, and zero-party data, or data that you ask customers to provide, are quickly becoming the most surefire ways to mitigate risk and maximize reward. Building data capture into your digital selling platforms is a sustainable, customer-friendly way to make sure that the data you get reflects your customers. Just be certain that you are adhering to GDPR and other major data privacy laws where applicable.

In the current attention economy, creating value for buyers requires relevant and timely content that specifically addresses pain points. Sellers must go beyond serving up canned product and solution expertise and leverage data insights to demonstrate customer obsession with tailored and timely service for prospects and clients alike. To enable their sellers to stay ahead of their competition, sales leaders need to ensure that they are working in concert with their organization’s revenue engine and optimizing opportunities for data management. As you continue to develop your insights-driven revenue engine, you will need to build a data strategy for sellers, and Forrester can help. Stay tuned for more research on the insights-driven sales system, digital selling, and personalization!