The Lifeblood of the Best-Performing Sales Organizations

Late last summer, I was diagnosed with a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in my lower calf. It was completely out of the blue, and the doctor almost didn’t even perform the ultrasound because I possessed very few risk factors and symptoms –  just a random pain in my calf that seemed to be moving all around. Upon getting the diagnosis, I dove into all of the research I could about blood clots and let me tell you, it was not fun reading. Did you know that blood clots are the THIRD leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer? Undiagnosed DVT has a 30 percent mortality rate and is often a sign of another undiagnosed disease, like cancer.

I like to think of myself as quite healthy: I’m very active, compete in Ironman triathlons, eat well, barely drink, get acupuncture every 2 weeks, etc. But I can’t remember ever having been concerned about the state of my blood and circulatory system. It was just one of those things I took for granted, and yet the blood that pumps through our body literally is what sustains us. Without it, our muscles, organs, bones, etc…stop functioning and we die.

So, with that cheerful start to our story, what does this have to do with sales? We are all focused on the health of our sales systems –  ensuring we have a great team, a well-documented sales process, strong technology, and a differentiated message that resonates in the market. And yet, the lifeblood of our sales systems is often ignored. What is it?

Think about it: if you were stranded on a desert island, and STILL had to hit your quota, what 3 things would give you the best shot? Would it be your sales process flow chart? Would it be your sales playbook? Or would it be your 5-email sequence? If it were me, it would be the names of my top prospects, their contact information, and a phone so I could reach them.

Data is the lifeblood – the dynamic fluid – that carries nutrients to the teams that consume it. Those nutrients are the pieces of information on your customers, your prospects, and your products that feed your sales strategy.

Just like healthy blood, healthy data has a couple of key characteristics:

  1. It is fresh and circulating, with strong and dynamic movement into and through all of the other systems and technologies within the organizations – pushing fresh, accurate data in with minimal effort. That is not a given, because sales data decays at a rate of 30-40% every year. Fun fact: Blood stasis, or stagnation, is one of the most common characteristics of people with chronic ill-health. My acupuncturist is constantly harping on me about it.
  2. It is comprehensive and complete, with deep intelligence and insight on companies and contacts – everything from basic, publicly available information to insights on installed technologies, planned projects, and organizational structure. Remember, good red blood cell counts without good white blood cell counts isn’t all that helpful.

So, why is the health of our sales data relegated to a minor task that (maybe) one person keeps an eye on? Why do organizations still invest in data that they KNOW is old and inaccurate?

Building a strong data strategy and investing in great data is the very lifeblood of sales teams that consistently delivers the best results. With accurate, fresh, integrated, and complete data, those teams make the best decisions about who to sell to, what products to sell them, when to sell them, how to sell them, and how to retain them. They win the majority of the time.

Without healthy blood, it doesn’t matter how high you can jump or how fast you can run a mile. Eventually, your body will shut down. Without great data, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your sales process or CRM tool is. You are shortchanging ALL of your investments, and your sales results will eventually die out without great data circulating through your systems.

Katie Bullard is the Chief Marketing Officer at DiscoverOrg. Her blood clot is dissolved, but she wears hot pink compression socks every time she flies. ,

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