Sales Coaching Blog

Sales Leadership: Are You Data Driven?

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

October 2, 2014

Bill_Eckstrom_Headshot_2014_sI’ve been hearing from a lot of sales leaders lately that they are “data driven”.  They are a “data driven” company, they are “data driven” people.  Personally, what consumes my day are interactions with people.  So, you could say EcSell is a “people driven” company, or I am a “people driven” guy.

Please don’t misunderstand, for I am not impugning data (hopefully no sales leader is that naïve).  Data is a must have, I like and need it too.  I look at data daily, use it to find trends, make changes, coach, etc., but it doesn’t consume my day.  It seems as though we forget how data got there in the first place—it is primarily a measured output of what people produce or some related outcome. 

Pipeline, sales activity, client retention rates, forecasting, turnover, margins, expenses, revenue, etc., all result from what people do or don’t do (what is also interesting is there are performance metrics that so few actually measure--which is data that tells sales leaders how effective front line sales managers are at coaching for improved performance).  Focus needs to shift from what the data shows to what the data says.  Why are numbers going up, down or sideways?  What are your people doing or not doing to impact numbers, and what are YOU doing with your people to achieve a different result from them. 

Most every workshop we hold we ask our sales leader attendees to write down the name of the best coach, boss, manager they’ve ever had and then describe what made that person most impactful.  Of the hundreds we’ve done, never once has an attendee said “they were a data driven person”.  While most of us know that if they were that impactful they likely used data; however, they were remembered by how they worked with people, not because of the numbers they reviewed. 

As this relates to sales leaders, one of the biggest areas data should be used is in the coaching of people.  Great coaches need data, but they need data that tells a story; a story that provides information and insights that lead to productive change.  Remember that data only provides the “what”, and only when you interact with people on your team do you understand the “why” and “how”. 

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