You want insights that help your team take action, and you're not getting answers from your existing suite of Salesforce dashboards.
Here are 10 questions to ask to help report to leadership and internal stakeholders, improve the sales process, drive up win rates, and boost rep performance. Right away.
Running a sales data analysis: top 10 questions to ask
#1: Does overall performance line up with macro-level trends?
#2: What products or services are the easiest to sell first?
#3: Does geography or seasonality have an effect on the pipeline?
#4: What types of accounts are most likely to expand?
#5: Which accounts are most likely to churn?
#6: Who’s the best stakeholder?
#7: What are top reps doing differently than everybody else?
#8: How many meetings, emails, or calls does it take to close a deal?
#9: Which reps need guidance and coaching?
#10: Which opportunities are close to the finish line, but need urgent attention?
Question #1: Does overall performance line up with macro-level trends?
Leaders need to be able to tell a story – to their teams, to leadership, to investors. The first thing they’re going to want to know is if the macro economic environment factors into what’s going on in the pipeline.
Here are metrics you can look at to show this:
Conversion trends over time.
Opportunities lost – and the reasons for it. Report on the why behind deals falling through or getting pushed back.
Once you know whether or not macro trends are playing a role in pipeline and performance, you can make small adjustments that have an outsized impact.
For example, if there’s a big budget constraint in your target industry, reconsider how you’re positioning the product. Change messaging and instead of focusing on a growth message, focus on a loss aversion message – how the product helps preserve capital or reduce inefficiency.
Question #2: What products or services are the easiest to sell first?
What’s the fastest path to a closed deal? That’s a roadmap the entire go-to-market team can follow – but many revenue leaders are unclear on the answer to this question.
When there are so many touchpoints in a long B2B sales cycle, tracking the data over time, accurately, is difficult. But if you’re able to hone in on the answer, the result is a focused team able to generate more pipeline, faster.
Here’s where to start your sales data analysis:
Accounts with the shortest sales cycle.
Accounts that expand the fastest once they’re a customer.
Once you know the answer, your revenue team can put a focus on the right product or service to start a new customer relationship. This can affect everything from the website messaging to the value props your BDRs talk about first on prospect calls.
Question #3: Does geography or seasonality have an effect on the pipeline?
Often there are factors beyond what’s happening in the CRM that play a role in team performance and pipeline. Can you spot trends in geography or seasonality based on your sales data?
Analyze sales data trends to hunt for:
Correlation between won or lost deals and location
Correlation between won or lost deals and time of year
Once you know how location and time of year affect pipeline velocity, you can put more focused effort on key points of the year to boost performance when you expect it – or supplement with go-to-market activity that fortifies the pipeline when you expect a downturn.
Question #4: What types of accounts are most likely to expand?
Expansion potential helps focus the customer success team. It helps the business build a better product roadmap. It prevents churn.
Here’s the sales data to analyze when working to predict expansion:
Trends in account growth by persona, product, or customer success manager activity.
Once you know what success signals to watch for in your customer accounts, you can guide your CS team to focus the right upsell to the right customer, at the right time.
Question #5: Which accounts are most likely to churn?
If you can spot the signs of churn in advance, you have a chance to save accounts at risk. It’s less fun when you’re blindsided with unexpected churn.
How can you start to understand the accounts most likely to churn?
Examine customer behavior over time in accounts that churned in the past
Identify customer success activity metrics on the best, most high-growth accounts. What are CS team members doing to keep customers engaged?
Develop a new playbook for your CS team on the right type of activity to use for which types of accounts, once they start to exhibit signs they may be at-risk.
Question #6: Who’s the best stakeholder?
In complex, lengthy B2B sales cycles, you don’t just talk to one person. Which stakeholder – i.e. persona, or job level – is the key player in getting an account closed?
Here’s what to look at:
Are certain stakeholders more likely to drive a won deal forward?
Are there trends in how your sales reps interact with certain types of stakeholders?
If certain roles are more likely to engage, focus reps on the people who matter.
Question #7: What are top reps doing differently than everybody else?
Your best reps seem to have an instinct for what prospects need at the right time. What if you could copy and paste that behavior?
Look across the team and see:
How do the top reps handle follow-ups?
How many meetings do they have?
Overall, in what order are they able to achieve certain milestones with prospects?
This helps you establish a playbook for the key signals you want reps to work to generate.
Question #8: How many meetings, emails, or calls does it take to close a deal?
Maybe you don’t just want to study the top reps – you want to establish just a clear baseline. This can help you compare the top reps to the middle of the road performers.
Look at averages:
How many meetings, calls, emails, etc. does it take to win a deal?
What is the minimum number of actions reps need to take?
This is helpful because if you know that beyond a certain number of follow-up emails, deals are no longer more likely to close, you can guide reps on preserving their time and energy for only high-value activity.
Question #9: Which reps need guidance and coaching?
Are certain reps falling behind – and if so, why? Instead of depending on a rep’s own reporting on what they’re doing or not doing within each deal, a transparent look at the sales activity data can show you where they may need to put in extra effort, or switch up the way they’re approaching their sales process.
Once you know what the top reps are doing, and you’ve established a baseline for the rest of the team, then you can start to analyze which reps are struggling to hit quota and also have low activity levels? Then adjust coaching as needed.
Question #10: Which opportunities are close to the finish line, but need urgent attention?
This is perhaps the most urgent question of all. If there are opportunities that are stuck in the pipeline – close to closing, but need action – and they fall through the cracks? Well, that’s on your team.