Mark Kovac: The Analytics of Sales Time Well Spent

Because the data that sales managers rely upon is self-reported, the resulting insights can often be incomplete. Mark Kovac, a partner with Bain's Customer Strategy & Marketing practice, shares examples of how companies can use software to tap into calendar and email data to identify successful sales behaviors.

Read the Bain Brief: The Analytics of Sales Time Well Spent

Read the transcript below.

MARK KOVAC: As the saying goes, you can't manage what you can't measure. And for sales managers, this is a particularly acute problem. Much of the data that sales managers rely upon is self-reported, often coming from CRM systems with questionable adoption. This makes the data inherently flawed, and leaves sales managers in the dark about where sales capacity is being invested and what behaviors drive top performance.

For this reason, we've started to use new software that taps into the digital exhaust of calendar and email data. Let me give a couple of examples. The first example is a B2B company that sells basic supplies through a large field sales organization. Analyzing the calendar and email data, we were able to assess that sales reps only spent 20% of their time with customers, and almost all of that time was on the phone or through email.

We then surveyed customers who told us they actually preferred to interact with their sales rep over the phone or through email. So armed with this data, the company moved a large portion of its field sales force inside, and through the development of an inside sales model, lowered cost while increasing coverage and time spent with customers.

The second example is a large enterprise technology company. We used the calendar and email analysis to identify the sales behaviors that drive top performance. Amongst other findings, we found the specific collaboration behaviors that separated the best reps from the average reps. Specifically, we found those reps spent time with their peers while preparing for a sales presentation, as well as with internal groups, like legal and finance. These highly productive and highly collaborative sales reps were able to bring the best of their company's capabilities to bear on the customer opportunity they were pursuing.

Finally, I should note that it's not wise to solely rely upon the analysis of calendar and email data. To yield truly pragmatic insights and actionable insights, it's important to combine this data with other data sources and qualitative observations from things like sales rep ride-alongs and customer interviews.

Of course, software can't magically create highly productive sales reps. However, it can help identify patterns of behavior that correlate with success, as well as identify opportunities to move sales capacity to go after the most attractive market opportunities.

Read the Bain Brief: The Analytics of Sales Time Well Spent