Sales-i\'s top tips to make your sales performance doesn\'t suck! Expert insights on the tricks behind successful selling. For more information and to read our other ebooks visit http://www.sales-i.com\n
and how data can help it suck less
An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors
Not only are you missing out on lost sales, you’re
also taking a hit by paying for a resource that
underperforms month-on-month. Research
shows that the average salesperson costs $500
per day to employ. That’s an investment not
every wholesaler or distributor can afford without
a solid return. But it’s not an easy problem to fix
either, especially when the cost of replacing a bad
salesperson is said to be an eye-watering $114,957.
39.9% claim to use technology to help with data
analysis, but 13.8% still sort through data manually:
some salespeople (6%) are still making decisions
based solely on gut instinct.
To cut a long story short: when salespeople (even
the really good ones) don’t use the right information,
they can’t perform as well as you need them to.
Some don’t have the information at all, some can’t
access it fast enough, and some just won’t use it.
of salespeople miss their
quotas. That’s two thirds
of your sales force failing
to do what you hired them
to do: sell. As problems go,
it’s an expensive one.
So what’s behind this costly sales performance
problem? We spoke with hundreds of wholesale
and distribution businesses in North America and
Europe to find out.
The result? Wholesale and distribution sales teams
are making junk calls and going into meetings blind,
and it’s hitting your bottom line.
One third (33.6%) say their biggest challenge is
acquiring timely information to help make a sale,
and 28.3% end up wasting time trying to gather
data from different systems, in multiple formats.
With only a 20 second window to raise interest,
salespeople need to be able to present clear,
relevant information to guide the sale straight
from the get-go.
Spend an hour listening in on your team’s sales
calls and ask yourself which of these is a better
representation of what you hear:
of all customer interactions
take place over the phone,
so it’s incredible to find
that so many companies
today still fail to make
every call count.
Analysis of the
perfect golf swing
Predictions for upcoming
that grows an account
Misplaced, mistimed or
misjudged sales attempts
Smart cross-selling that adds
new product lines to an account
If the first story sounds more familiar, your
salespeople aren’t connecting with your
customers where it counts. They’ve got a
customer insight problem, which in turn
means you’ve got a junk call problem.
Some sales teams are
doomed to repeat bad
practices like making
junk calls for one primary
reason: they lack visibility.
49.5% of the companies we spoke with struggle
to spot which customers’ orders are dropping and
where the next sales opportunities will be.
“We were delivering top line information on
customer accounts to our salespeople in paper
packs monthly, so you can imagine the quantity
of paper being generated, posted and handled.
Wading through that much information to unearth
sales opportunities or changes in buying behavior
was simply impossible and the information was out
of date by the time the salespeople received it.”
Bathroom supplies distributor, UK
Of the sellers we spoke to, 16.6% reported that trying
to gain visibility into their sales team’s activities was
their most significant day-to-day challenge.
“We had a sales team writing long monthly
reports that offered very few benefits but took
a lot of time to create; they had little access to
sales data and were flying blind for a lot of the
time when it came to selling to our customers.”
Tile supplier, UK
It’s no wonder only 13% of customers believe that
a salesperson can understand their requirements.
So how do you turn this situation around and win a
customer’s confidence as well as their business?
That means salespeople are going into calls blind
without the data they need to make meaningful
The lack of visibility is compounded when managers
are unable to keep track of their sales team’s
performance; not just which customers they’ve
spoken to and when, but exact details about what
was sold and for what price.
The first step in solving
your sales performance
problem is recognizing
that it’s not your sales
A lot of salespeople are set in their old ways.
But wholesale and distribution sales is changing,
so even really talented salespeople are struggling
to perform. To sell today you need insight and
agility. You must deliver a smart, personalized and
predictive service that’s part sales, part customer
service. Which means if your salespeople don’t
have the information they need, they’re going
in blind. And if you can’t see what your guys are
doing, you can’t optimize their performance.
Restore sales clarity and you’ll unlock two
1. Total vision.
You’ll have visibility of your team in the field.
Where they’ve been and where they’re headed
(and where they should be headed, which isn’t
always the same thing).
2. Informed decisions.
When you can hold the numbers up to the light,
that’s when you turn insight into action. Discover
which customers you see the least but sell to the
most. Identify weaknesses in your product
portfolio. Track how targeted campaigns affect
uptake. In short, you’ll be able to use insight to
fuel your decision-making. You’ll sell smarter
and you’ll sell more.
It all starts with
wholesalers and distributors
wanted to improve sales
performance, they started
with everything but the
data: they hired new sales
reps, invested in training
or overhauled processes.
Now data is earning recognition as distributors’ and
wholesalers’ most valuable asset. By starting with
how you organize, use and display your data, you
can make a dramatic impact on sales performance.
And while you may come up against resistance to
change, remember it’s in your sales team’s interest
as much as it is yours. No sales professional wants
to work harder for longer reeling in little fish when
they can sell smarter and catch killer whales.
The difference is in the data.
We’ve identified five key areas where data can
help your sales performance suck less – so your
team can sell more, plug leakages and grow your
data can help
Know your customers
“ “We weren’t able to know
each and every one of
our customers inside
out and we have lots of
each spending a different
amount with us. It wasn’t
always the most efficient
to spend time preparing
individual reports for each
Animal feed manufacturer, wholesaler,
Delivering the kind of service that grows accounts
isn’t possible unless you really take the trouble to
know your customers’ buying habits. And simply
having this data isn’t enough.
If it’s spread across multiple systems and
applications, it won’t give you a comprehensive view
and you can’t act on it. When you know what you
sold – and what you didn’t sell – at all times, you can
meet your customers’ needs more exactly. Take
the luck out of right-place-right-time sales: find the
patterns and anticipate the need.
Make better margins
“We were very reliant on
manual reporting and
counting stuff up on your
fingers just wasn’t feasible
Soil supplier, Ireland
Arguably the most important indicator of sales
performance and certainly a massive contributor to
successful growth, margins are where your data can
really make a difference.
Sales opportunities wait for no man, so don’t let
data hold you up. Have the right information on hand
when you need it to make the right offers at the
And as well as individual sales, keep an eye on the
bigger picture. Do you know which customers you
meet the most and sell to the least? And which ones
you meet the least and sell to the most? When you
do, you’ll know where to focus your efforts next
month, next quarter and next year.
“We had no ability to dive
into our sales data, I was
going to IT to get reports
that were outdated within
24 hours. We needed to
be more in tune with what
our customers were doing
Restaurant supply, design and fabrication
Whether you’re lining up a new lead or closing a deal,
speed can be the difference between a great sale
and a missed opportunity. Foresight helps you plan
strategic attacks that shorten time-to-sale and
data gives you that foresight.
Empower your sales teams with mobile solutions
so they can act on new information whenever
it comes, wherever they are, and close deals faster.
With the right systems in place and an organizational
culture that treats data as a serious selling tool,
you can be agile enough to turn real-time insight
Spot the sales gaps
“Our area sales managers
weren’t always up to date
with information on their
customers and we found
it difficult to keep on top
of who was ordering what
Natural stone importer, UK
This is all about broadening the range that you sell
and improving the quality of the return: up-sell to
higher margin alternatives or cross-sell to new lines
not bought before.
To do it well, you need an intimate knowledge of
your customers’ requirements and buying habits.
Here, what you’re not selling (but should be) is as
important as what you are selling. Identify the gaps
and use your familiarity with a customer’s behavior
to fill that gap with a complementary sale. This is
the zone where sales meets service and customer
Run smart campaigns
“Having information is not
an issue, it is the ease and
speed with which you can
slice, dice and access that
information that makes
the real difference.”
Information management company and
contract stationer, USA
So you’ve found a cross-sell opportunity by
searching your data to see who has ordered a
printer from you but not yet bought ink or paper.
But identifying a new sales opportunity is only the
beginning. You need to run tailored sales campaigns,
powered by aggregate and customer-specific data.
Even the best-planned campaigns can fail without
buy-in. Give your most important initiatives the best
chance of success by involving your sales teams
from the start and creating some excitement
around the campaign.
Start with the data
In sales today, insight is currency. With the right
information at your fingertips, every meeting will be
valuable and everything you learn in that meeting is
recorded as potential insight for future use. With
this information in a CRM system, and analytics
software that can manage large volumes of data,
you can generate simple reports that give clear
answers on what to do next. Record, manage and
action your data and you’ll kick start a virtuous cycle
of insight and reward.
Look back to move forward
Let past experience guide future efforts. Find the
patterns that will help you predict where your team
can really boost performance in future – then invest
resources in that direction.
Answer six key questions
Even when they use smart sales software, too
many sales teams have a one-sided view of their
customer relationship. They get the contact data
(soft data) but they can’t see the hard metrics that
lead to decisive action. Make sure you can answer
six questions easily.
Without an eye on your customers’ past behavior,
you won’t be able to spot the orders that shrink
or drop off, and you won’t be able to intelligently
anticipate future growth opportunities or fill sales
gaps as they emerge.
• When did I see you last?
• What did we talk about?
• When am I seeing you again?
Mash it up
Data is no good in isolation. To make it actionable,
create a single view of your customer that you can
manipulate and scrutinize from desktop and mobile
devices. Bring together information from your CRM,
ERP, billing system, customer data files – wherever
it’s stored – and mash it all up into actionable sales
insight. Make it findable, accessible, searchable and
usable by the people who need it, when they need
it – in the office or on the road.
Automate the hard work
The more data you gather, the harder it will become
to keep hold of the ball. No-one can keep track of
everything, so let technology do the hard work for you.
• What have I sold to you?
• What haven’t I sold to you?
• What should I be selling to you?
Make your life easier with triggered notifications
that tell you when opportunities arise so you can
act fast to capitalize on them. Likewise, program
notifications when any red flags go up. For example,
if a long-standing customer fails to make one of
its regular orders this month, you can receive a
notification straight to your mobile.
But data is only
To keep pace, sales
teams need to deliver
a more personalized,
Just having all the right data isn’t enough to make
your sales performance suck less. Your sales team
needs to know how to access it, manipulate it and
put the data to work. If they don’t know, they’ll keep
making junk sales calls and missing their targets.
For too long this valuable asset has been neglected.
It’s time to turn data into insight and use it to drive
sales. Could data help your sales performance
For more on why
wholesalers and distributors
need business intelligence
to stay ahead of the
our white papers now.
We are the world leader
in sales performance
Our sales performance software integrates
transaction data in your ERP and billing systems with
information on your customers, so you can discover
new sales opportunities, up-sell to higher margin
alternatives and cross-sell to lines they haven’t
bought before. And because we make it all available
on any mobile platform, the insight is used where it
makes a decisive difference – with your sales reps on
the phones and on the road. The result: insightful
selling that’s personalized, profitable and always
fuelled by data.