It may come as a surprise, but sales operations leaders need help selling sales analytics to their organizations. Clients routinely come to Gartner for guidance on how to make the case to the overall organization for further sales analytics investments.
The resistance sales ops leaders often encounter stems from a low perceived ROI for sales analytics — typically the product of a rollout where the insights stakeholders have experienced have failed to address commercial objectives. This can result from a combination of discrepancies in data and analytics that are not clearly aligned to the audience. Sales operations leaders then find themselves retracing the steps they took when they built the analytics program in the first place in an effort to justify any additional investments in it.
Combatting the “Erosion of Trust” in Sales Analytics
In essence, what sales ops leaders are fighting against is a lack of trust, one that often results from a bumpy implementation of the sales analytics program. Three common pitfalls are:
- Erosion of trust due to inaccurate data (e.g., a new report not matching the output from an old report)
- Lack of stakeholder/seller input on usability (e.g., a tool where sellers need to apply many filters to see what they need)
- Missing links between the data and real-world business context (e.g., stakeholders don’t quite understand how to leverage the analytics being delivered)
Most sales operations leaders can address these issues on the back end to give the program a course correction. But, what they often find is that once the damage has been done, significant additional effort is necessary to drive adoption from the ground up, despite having sound analytics.
Implementing a Phased Rollout
To avoid falling into the proverbial sand trap, I recommend a phased approach to implementing analytics that allows sales operations leaders to properly calibrate deliverables to commercial needs. This approach incorporates the following three key elements:
- Assemble a group of internal SMEs or super users outside of the analytic roles/group. This group can provide the end user input and pressure test processes/reports before a full rollout.
- Phase out old systems/reports in piecemeal fashion. This reduces the amount of time sales operations teams spend reconciling old reports vs. new reports. Most importantly, it preserves the trust other functions have in analytics. By using the group of super users/SMEs to pilot new tools, any discrepancies can be addressed in this environment while the overall organization uses existing analytics without any disruptions.
- Conduct demos with context. This step emphasizes the need to have examples of how the tool being rolled out can help users in their day-to-day work life. Most demos tend to focus on technical “how to” questions, but centering the demo on use cases will better engage stakeholders. This approach also preserves the trust that other commercial functions have in sales operations as a valuable partner.
These three elements allow for the phased rollout of sales analytics where each tool goes through a stress test before replacing a previous tool. Once each tool has passed its initial test, sales operations can present it to the overall organization with actual business context.
Working this phased approach into your analytics buildout allows sales operations leaders to hedge against erosion in trust that can set a program back, whether the errors are small or large. A phased approach allows sales operations leaders to deliver consistent and actionable insights that highlight the value of sales analytics capabilities that justify locking in support for further investment in the program.
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