Data Driven Selling in K12 – Quick Start Guide

It is easy for a sales force to fall into a comfort zone. Data-driven decision making techniques can help insure that Reps are reaching beyond their current contacts.

In many companies there is a great deal of data about the market. The challenge is to drive this into your field organization so that the Reps and their Managers are probing for untapped market potential on a regular basis.

There are some simple and quick ways to start using data in selling to schools and school districts. This post outlines some ideas for how to encourage your sales force to adopt a more data driven approach.

More below the fold…

First, there are some basic systems and processes that have to be in place. You need a contract with MDR, QED, or one of the other school data database providers. That data needs to be linked to your customer database so that it can be cross-referenced to your sales history. If you are a small company this can be done by hand, if you are mid-sized to large a link will have to be embedded in your CRM. How to do this linkage is beyond the scope of this post.

With this in place here are some ideas for how to structure this.

Its not about the data – its about a conversation. Provide your field managers with reports that they can use to have coaching conversations with their Reps. It shouldn’t be a report card (at least not initially…).

Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm people with all the great data you have – give them enough that they can learn something quickly, act on it, and then be self-motivated to come back for more. Try to work with data sets of 25 customers or less and use 2-3 key metrics. The rule of thumb – if a report section goes beyond one spreadsheet page (horizontal) then it is too much data.

It’s all about finding patterns. Good data driven decision-making is about identifying meaningful patterns and then looking for anomalies that can guide actions. Here are two examples:

Follow the money. Generate a report of the top 25 districts in every Rep’s territory by some combination of enrollment and budget. Then, match your sales over the past 3-5 years to this list and see if there are any gaps. Worst case the Rep gets to make a case for why a district isn’t worth their time. Best case you uncover untapped potential.

Clone your best customers. Seth Godin in a recent post stated:

You’ll also sell a lot more management consulting to well run companies, high end stereos to people with good stereos and yes, church services to the already well behaved.

Generate a list of the top 10 customers in a Rep’s territory. Then, have a conversation with the Rep about what those customers have in common. Use the database to find more of those customers for them to focus on.

Putting good data in people’s hands and then helping them ask and answer some simple questions can have a profound impact on where they spend their time and on the sales they generate.