Most forward-thinking sales leaders have been putting science into selling for a while now. Thankfully, they have moved on from relying solely on gut feel, instinct, spider sense or strange feelings in their water.

However, while the importance of insight to underpin key decisions is recognised, they also know that the state of the data available to them, and how it is used, rarely matches these ambitions. This is acutely true in the critical ‘Go To Market Strategy’ space, and that represents a real problem.

Too many organisations confuse historic reporting with analytical insight. All they have is parochial hindsight where market-wide foresight is needed. To win in the market, sales leaders need to be giving themselves an unfair advantage. This means a truly insightful, data-driven, go-to-market strategy which will only really deliver competitive value if it is:

Comprehensive – It’s not enough to be mining your back catalogue of greatest hits. If you don’t have visibility of the full universe of potentially addressable companies out there, then you are running blind. This means enriching your internal customer records with external company level data that provides you with this total view, as well as the firmographic insight (sector, size, location) to make best sense of it.

Value driven – So it’s good that you now know which companies are out there, but what is their value to you? If you don’t know their budget for your products and services, if you don’t know where the white space is and if you don’t know your share of that wallet then how can you know how and where to deploy which sales resources? Leveraging external data, profiling your existing customers and consulting your sales force will enrich your data with a view of where the money is.

Actionable – It’s great knowing how much a category or a country is worth if you are a CEO or head of strategy. Not so much if you are a seller trying to plan your territory and which door they should be knocking on. Insight needs to be actionable and for the front line rep that means it needs be at individual company level (for prospects and customers).

Usable –Insight is truly at its best when it is used to complement and enable strategic sales decisions, not replace them. Just sitting around and waiting for the answer to be spat out, as if for the meaning of life from DeepThought in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, ignores the nuances of client relationships, market dynamics and sales force capability. Powerful visualisation tools built around the right data and data models allow sales leaders to play ‘what if’ scenarios; considering factors such as growth ambitions, cost envelopes, accounts spans and which channel to align to what value segment.

In an increasingly complex and competitive world, every asset in an organisation needs to earn its keep, and that goes tenfold with data. Gathering, transforming and putting it to work in the cause of your go to market strategy is arguably the greatest competitive lever you can pull. And it will equip your sales force with that unfair advantage they need.

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