Super Bowl 50 was a match-up that fans had never seen before: the 2015 Panthers versus the 2015 Broncos. While both these teams boast proven formulas for success, their approaches to a first-time contest in San Francisco would be largely untested… which is not to say uninformed.
That’s because winning NFL teams often use analytics to develop effective game plans against their in-conference rivals and playoff adversaries. In Denver, the Broncos rely on Director of Analytics, Mitch Tanney to make the right play calls on fourth-down attempts, goal line tries, and two-point conversions. Throughout the 2015 season the Cleveland Browns hired a dedicated “Chief Strategy Officer” (Dave DePodesta of Moneyball fame), well-known for his ability to leverage sports data and inform coaching decisions that produce reliable outcomes.
How does all this translate into your business environment?
In sales, as in sports, consistent wins don’t happen by accident. Repeatable results are driven by math—from the historical numbers that define your sales team’s past performance, to contextual stats that can help you develop a strategy in brand new sales situations (i.e. market penetration).
Whether you’re a young company just beginning to formalize your sales department/process, or a mature company getting ready to target a new buyer segment (a different region, a new vertical), developing a strategy for market penetration doesn’t have to be a gamble. Instead, you can recruit your own “director of (sales) analytics”—someone who will assemble the relevant data and tactical metrics to drive your team toward winning results.
In fact, whenever we’re called into sales consulting engagements, this is exactly what we provide in the form of a Fractional VP of Sales. We help clients outline details on new buyer personas, competitors and their market positions, while nailing down numbers like:
- How much outbound activity does an individual sales executive need to have in order to find a single qualified sales opportunity?
- How many of those opportunities will result in an active lead in your pipeline?
- Once a lead is in the pipeline, what are the metrics surrounding how it moves (e.g. most impactful sales activities, timelines, etc.)?
- Finally, what’s your pipeline multiple: How big does your pipeline have to be to insure the company will hit the sales targets?
And this is where the real calculus begins. Because having sales metrics on hand is one thing; testing the data and executing mathematically is another. A skillful sales analytics partner can help you decide where to spend sales/marketing dollars and sales force hours, in order to hit desired targets.
Do the numbers translate into a rigidly prescriptive sales strategy? Hardly. Broncos’ head coach Kubiak may be looking to Tanney for risk-reward ratios on key downs, but he won’t be sacrificing his preferred style of play. Similarly, there’s always room to shape market penetration “math” around a sales plan that fits your organization’s culture.
Here’s a good example: Mansfield Sales Partners recently collaborated with a leadership team that was partial to working trade shows and industry exhibitions, as opposed to heavy-duty outbound sales activity. In analyzing their CRM and their event conversion rates, we established that they needed to attend a lot of events—a lot of events—to compensate for just a 20 percent investment in mail blasts, cold calls, in-mails, etc. But their returns are now predictable… and cost-effective. And their sales reps have visibility into how to reach set targets, using specific modes of execution.
Do you need help entering a new market or capturing greater market share? Learn more about Mansfield Sales Partners’ sales consulting services. Or check out our guide on achieving revenue growth with the right sales team.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated and for accuracy and relevancy.