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Get Your Salespeople To Love Inaccurate Sales Analysis

In response to a number of questions posed through the Playbook’s unique Help Desk feature, we conducted a subscriber-only webinar on the topic of “whitespace analytics“. In this deep-dive session, we walked through a seven step analytical process for identifying and prioritizing accounts that should be buying more volume, additional product lines, etc.

Of course, we always field attendee questions at the end of our live webinar sessions. And in this session, the following question was posed…

If the analytical findings aren’t 100% accurate, won’t our salespeople balk at using them?

Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard some flavor of this question. In some form or fashion, the “accuracy” question seems to come up with every type of sales analysis we cover in the Playbook, from customer retention and account expansion to pipeline performance and prospect targeting.

It’s a very common question…and a loaded one, to boot.

You see, these types of analyses can never be 100% accurate. And yes, salespeople will often balk at the idea of using inaccurate analytical findings. So, it seems like a no-win situation—you either shoot for the impossible (100% accuracy) or waste your time on analyses that Sales will never embrace.

But as we explained in the webinar Q&A, it’s all about proper positioning and setting expectations upfront…

Let’s say, for example, that only 40% of the findings from your whitespace analysis are accurate. In other words, for every 10 accounts you identify as having significant opportunities to buy more volume or buy other product categories, six actually turn out to be false signals when your salespeople investigate further.

OMG! That sounds terrible!  Salespeople are wasting time and effort investigating 60% false signals! Break out the pitchforks! Light up the torches!

Positioning it another way, however, your salespeople only have to investigate 10 accounts to find and capture four significant expansion opportunities!

On their own, would your salespeople have a batting average of 400? Left to their own devices, how many accounts would your salespeople have to investigate to find four big expansion opportunities? 20? 40? 100? And would they even know which specific products and categories they should be asking about in each account?

In isolation, 40% accuracy…or being “wrong” 60% of the time…might seem pretty bad…or even unworkable.

But relative to conducting an unfocused fishing trip across an entire book of business…a whole series of generic call-downs and donut-drops that might only yield one expansion opportunity per 40 contacts…a hit-rate of four out of 10 is like manna from heaven!

Don’t get me wrong…you definitely want to use the various analytical techniques we highlight in the Playbook to minimize the false signals in your sales analyses to the greatest extent possible.

At the same time, however, you should recognize that your sales team’s views on “acceptable accuracy” are largely relative and can be shaped by the positioning you use and the expectations you set.

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