Warning: Your Lack of Data Insight is Killing Your Career


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Your credibility, value and career in Sales Ops hinges on your use of data. The fatal mistake so often made is placing emphasis on the data by itself. Data without insight to the business is less than worthless. It has significant negative value.

It eats at your credibility. It sucks up your team’s time. It causes leadership to make bad decisions. The cycle of data capture/report, data capture/report is totally inadequate.

Find out what you need to do to break the cycle. Add more value to the company. Restore your credibility. Turn your data into insight. Below, I offer the Sales Ops Analytics Guide to help.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with extremely smart people. You know the type – their mental engine is a virtual V-12 roaring inside their skull. Clients, bosses, peers and subordinates – we all encounter the big brains.

The combination of the two is ideal. But forced to choose data surfer or insightful analyst, it’s a no-brainer. Let’s take a hypothetic scenario involving two Sales Operations analysts.

Big Brain Bill

Big Brain Bill supports eastern US sales. Bill’s great at designing SQL queries. He constructs dashboards with elegant user-interfaces. Like clockwork, his queries auto-run and populate beautiful reports. These automatically push to secure micro-sites. Reps, managers and sales leaders get email links every Monday at 6:00 am.

The reports pull from multiple sources and Bill is your data monkey. His sales region gets all the data available but remains below plan.

Insightful Ivan

Ivan supports the western US. He’s above average technically but sometimes turns to Bill for support. But give him a report and magic happens. Through sound analytical skills, he finds key insights and what it means to the business.

His efforts are focused on sustainable ways to improve the business. He talks about “triangulating” – using multiple sources to validate or disprove his hypothesis. He spends time on the phone with the sales team getting their input. His western region gets the data they need and is tracking above plan.

Consequences of Big Data, No Insight

Ever hear the phrase “Big hat, no cattle”? It’s akin to “All talk, no game” or “Sizzle but no steak”. It’s the same with data. “Big data, no insight”.

Continuing with our story, Sam is your East Regional Sales VP. Every Monday, he opens Big-Brain Bill’s cool weekly pipeline report. His teams’ late-stage pipeline value is down again. Sam calls an emergency meeting. “I don’t care how, but late-stage pipeline better improve before month-end”. Sam’s team works diligently and, in fact, pushes deals along and the metric improves.

Valarie is your West Regional Sales VP. Insightful Ivan provides a weekly report also. Some of Bill’s bells and whistles are missing but much of the data is similar. Ivan always includes a bullet summary of the report. He strives to answer the question “So what?” Valarie and Ivan have a standing weekly call to discuss the findings.

In his bullets, Ivan calls out a drop in late-stage pipeline value. He looks closely at the late-stage losses. He digs deeper, finding many of the losses were to their competitor, Acme. Most were lost due to price. Ivan found a competitive report on Acme and sent it along to Valarie.

During the call, Ivan asks Valarie what she thought about the drop. “Well, I’ve been working with the team on improving margins. The Acme info and loss report you sent are great. It tells me our losses are among low margin clients. When we compete on price alone, we kill the bottom-line. I think we need to build stronger value earlier in the process.”

Ivan and Valarie work on a game-plan. He sets up a call with marketing and gathers relevant case-studies. He identifies content that Valarie’s team can use in early stages. They run a team call to describe the content and how it can best be used.

Always try answering the question “So what?” Validate or disprove hypothesis.  If your team can’t do this, you need a new team. Once you know the “So what” of the data, dig deeper. Armed with this insight, now what do we need to do? Your prime objective is to find the nuggets and drive the right actions. Great analysis leads to great insights. Data alone leads to reports. Download our Sales Ops Analytics Guide.  It will improve the depth of Sales Ops’ insight and bolster your credibility.

Sales Ops Analytics Guide


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Patrick Seidell
Patrick Seidell serves as a Senior Consultant at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI). Pat brings 27 years of experience in sales management, sales operations leadership, consulting and market research to SBI with nationally and globally recognized organizations such as DHL, The Gallup Organization, Tribune Company and The NPD Group.


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