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Do you find that these days you are awash in data related to sales performance? You are not alone. Articles abound on data mining, data analytics, big data, data visualization, and on and on. But what can data do to actually provide direction to sales reps and drive performance daily? Here are a few areas where data can make a difference.

1. Pinpoint sales funnel issues

Data from your CRM can give you the ability to compare funnel conversion rates among your sales reps and to benchmark them against norms for your industry. Significant variances may point to a problem.

Do your Sales Qualified Leads convert to forecasted opportunities at a rate that is in line with industry norms? Do individual reps have unusually high or low conversion rates? If so, why? Are some reps too cautious; are some chasing bad leads? Having the right information can help you form data-driven hypotheses, which can lead to the right conversations to understand what is happening and what can be done to address it.

2. Drive more profitable sales

Modern SPM analytics can show sales reps how they are managing their margins and how that compares to their peers. By identifying profitability variances, field teams and managers can work together to look at the potential causes: product portfolio, deal structure, pricing, and so on.

If a rep’s profitability per deal is low, for example, it could be because she is selling less profitable products. This may be in alignment with company strategy to drive market share for these products, and it is the right behavior. Or, maybe the rep didn’t have the data to realize where she should be focusing her efforts. In either case, you need data to help you understand and, if necessary, address where the causes lie.

3. Implement intelligent quotas

Perhaps nothing is more important in motivating sales reps while achieving company goals than getting quotas right. Machine learning (ML) can optimize quota-setting by analyzing current and historical revenues and quotas and making recommendations. This can result in quotas that align with company goals, yet are realistic.

ML models take into account desired thresholds and re-allocate quota to more evenly spread it throughout the year, minimizing spikes and providing a better distribution of performance for more accurate quotas. With an AI-driven model, you can see the numbers recommended by ML, compare against current production, and make tweaks as needed. When quotas are done right, sales people are happier, more motivated, and more productive, while revenue targets are achieved with a reasonable cost of sales.

4. Retain top performers

When you understand your employees, you can tailor their rewards and perks to better meet their needs. Analysis based on demographics such as age, role, and location compared with external benchmark and survey data can help you create recommended models for advancement and compensation to improve motivation and retention.

ML lends itself particularly well to modeling and simulation of all kinds, including the ability to determine whether the company’s sales talent is being rewarded accurately and appropriately and providing management with data-driven recommendations for optimized incentive and reward plans to retain top talent—better outcomes at lower costs.

Also, like HR in general, Sales needs to identify gender gap and equal pay issues for pay fairness and compliance. ML-driven behavioral analytics and simulations can identify fair pay issues, as well as help managers to understand the key criteria for retaining each gender to close the gap. And simulation can help in understanding the impact on global budgets from aligning pay equally across genders.

5. Optimize and automate manual tasks

You can employ ML to recognize patterns, predict performance, and explain drivers and influencers of performance, enabling compensation analysts to optimize compensation models to improve performance.

Artificial Intelligence can pick up from there by automating tasks that formerly required manual actions, thereby delivering a significantly improved employee experience, reducing employees’ workload, and increasing confidence in the SPM system overall.


In the era of big data, next generation SPM systems can equip you to make decisions that will drive revenue and motivate sales teams like never before. Get the tips you need to implement an effective strategy and system with our e-guide: The Data-Driven Approach to Sales Performance Management: New techniques that will drive revenue in 2019.

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