I have a confession. I’m sure many of you will judge me. You’ll likely raise your eyebrows when I tell you. I usually don’t share this with people because it’s somewhat embarrassing.
I love to code data.
There, I’ve said it. It’s officially out in cyberspace.
Coding data is when you take text information gathered in a survey and you translate the information into a numerical format. This is done so that you can more easily summarize and interpret what the data is telling you. Lines and lines of text aren’t always easy to absorb or create a concise story. Having a synopsis or percentage can be much more useful depending on how you are using your data. I find the process of taking something large and somewhat beastly and whittling it down to an organized and useful format really, really satisfying. Some people clean their cars for this gratification. Others mow their yards so the lines look like a ball field. I code data.
Lately, I’ve been working on coding data from the Through the Eyes of the Rep (TTEOTR) Survey. At the end of the survey, there is a question that asks the rep to identify what their manager does best as a sales coach. A total of 364 reps have answered this question and their responses total over 5,200 words. As you can imagine, this is a gold mine of information. Not only is it rich in the fact that it is a large amount of data – data that goes deeper than what you get when a respondent checks a box – but it’s also rich because it’s data that is gathered through the direct words of the rep. As a number cruncher, I’m all for check boxes. Open-text responses like these, however, carry such a life and honesty to them that is truly powerful. This data helps us see what traits and behaviors mean the most to sales reps in a way that can't be garnered through a check box.
I happily read each respondent’s answer to this question. As I read, themes or trends in their responses emerge. Each time a rep mentions that same theme, that theme gains a tally mark. At the end, instead of a massive mound of 5,200 words, I have a far more manageable list of about 20 to 30 themes that were repeatedly mentioned by the reps. Even better, I know the number of times each theme was mentioned so I can rank order and make other statistical observations. As the Disney movie Aladdin might say, phenomenal cosmic power! Itty-bitty data space!
So what does the data coding efforts tell us? Well, the results are quite clear and insightful. Before I share the results, however, I think a natural question comes to the surface. If your reps were asked what you do best as a sales coach, what would they say? Where do you excel?
Tune into my next blog to see the preliminary results from our TTEOTR survey.
In the meantime, take some time to ponder your strengths as a sales coach. If you’d like data directly from your reps to help you understand your strengths, the TTEOTR survey might just be the tool for you. As you now know, I'd love to have more data to code.
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