Three Ways to “Sell” Analytics to Your Sales Reps

Three Ways to

There are numerous quantifiable benefits to analytics, including increased productivity and profitability. That’s according to consultancy McKinsey & Co, which notes that companies that use customer analytics extensively are more than twice as likely to generate above average profits than those that don’t. McKinsey research found that adding analytics to operations to tackle Big Data can help companies outperform their peers by five percent in terms of productivity and six percent in profitability.

However, most companies struggle to overcome human behavior—specifically resistance from sales employees to use the tools—according to the article.

“Leaders charged with making Big Data programs work need to understand and acknowledge this reality and develop specific approaches to build trust that overcomes the emotional resistance,” the article notes. “That means more than just training employees to use technology to better engage with customers. The best leaders develop examples of what most effectively addresses specific concerns, creating a clear path of action and adopting new approaches to reward new behavior.”

The article goes on to note the most common behavioral obstacles from sales reps to using Big Data and analytics and how to overcome them:

1. Tool Fatigue

Sales reps are often exposed to tools that—despite claiming to provide significant benefits—are far too complicated, the article notes. “First, note that studies show that the additional time associated with working with recommendations from analytics is insignificant or nonexistent,” McKinsey points out. “Second, in many cases these systems can in fact save agents time by providing accurate recommendations for specific cases that, in the past, agents themselves had to do with outmoded software and little or no analytics support. One of the best ways to convince your reps is to get them to commit to investing a small amount of time (less than 30 minutes) to test run a recommendation or run a simple query.”

2. Clinging to Intuition

Many sales employees are convinced that their intuition and experience can provide better guidance than analytics. Leaders can overcome this myth by showing how analytics can help them do their jobs more effectively and make more money, McKinsey advises. “So, show them the earnings difference between a team that uses analytic recommendations and one that doesn’t (if the example happens to show a marked improvement in the performance of previously ho-hum sales reps, all the better).”

3. Trust Issues

For many sales reps and customer service agents, the fear that machines are replacing humans can be the most difficult to overcome when putting into place a new analytics initiative. “One thing we recommend is turning top performers into allies and, more importantly, advocates,” according to the article. “Top sales performers often have major influence within organizations. Getting them to work with the “meaty middle”—the 80 percent of reps who are neither at the top nor the bottom of the pack—is critical because changing the behavior of this large group will have the biggest impact.”

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