Utilize Sales Data to Make More Money in 2018

While I recognize that baseball is not a sport that everyone follows, I wanted to share some insights from Billy Beane whose character was the main focus of the 2011 film, Moneyball. Billy was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Splunk Conference where he made a statement that is so applicable to the sales world that I have to share it with you:

“A lot of decisions that we made in baseball for 150 years were based on gut feeling, intuition and passing the eye test.”

He was referring to the evaluation of talent based upon the filters that individuals were so accustomed to applying, making it an art and not a science. It wasn’t until scouts began to evaluate the player based upon the data that would objectively provide a better cost-benefit ratio that individual teams could increase their winning percentages. As a result of this “moneyball” strategy, the Oakland A’s won more games with the lowest payroll in all of baseball that year. 

So how does this relate to us in sales? Here’s the critical question you should ask yourself and your team:

How do you evaluate the deal in your pipeline?

Most of us have done it by “eyeballing” or we have a gut feeling and, if we feel good about it, then we consider it to be a strong deal.  However, most of us also realize how much time we spend on deals that never close or that we lose to no decision. Realistically, 80% of the deals entered into the pipeline are lost to no decision and yet we waste countless hours on them.

So we all need to take Billy Beane’s advice to heart. He changed baseball forever when he started using data in the evaluation process and that is exactly what you need to do as a sales professional. The “gut feel” doesn’t increase your forecast accuracy or close rate but the data does. 

In Negotiating Your Deal: Build a High Value Trades Roadmap, we talk about using your high value trade table to move a deal along. Now consider using it as a way to ensure you are working to beat the clock and increase the odds of closing a deal.

If your customer is asking for more info or demos, ask her to send an email copying all the stakeholders on the attributes upon which they are basing their decision. This will help to further qualify the deal since no one wants to put items in writing or do extra work if they don’t really want to get a deal done. They do not want to give management the impression that they are kicking tires and wasting time on something that may not be sanctioned by the company. 

To be clear, your prospect will do more work if they have a need to fill. If they don’t have a requirements document or an evaluation matrix that outlines how they intend to spend thousands of dollars on your solution then they haven’t proven the need.

The real sales qualification test focuses on the actions of the customer and scoring each of these steps with thoughtful and quantified numbers based upon the value of each action they take.

To make more money in 2018 think differently and stop assuming your gut knows more than the numbers do.