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Two organizational barriers to executing data-driven opportunity management

??????????????????An increasing number of sales organizations are starting to adopt a data-driven approach to opportunity management. Yet, organizations seeking to make better-informed decisions with the help of data encounter several barriers. Cultural and organizational barriers that can create inertia and resistance. Are you aware of the potential barriers likely to emerge during this transition?

This is the second post on the topic of: a data-driven approach to opportunity management. In the first post, I introduced the trend and mentioned which organizations are most likely to benefit from its adoption. This article focuses on raising awareness about two potential barriers likely to emerge during your transition to a data-driven approach to opportunity management. Let’s take a brief look at them.

1. Shortage of analytical and digitally-savvy sales talent

The transition from a subjective to a data-driven approach calls for new sales roles with different set of skills and competencies. These roles require higher levels of analytical, digital and technological skills and competencies. The issue is that to find sales talent to meet these emerging demands is a difficult task. Those skills are simply hard to find within sales organizations. Most sales organizations have talent with skills related to persuasion and negotiation but lack talent with analytical and technological skills.

Just take a look around your own organization. Do you currently have the skills and competencies required to perform quantitative analysis that deliver actionable insights? Are members of your sales team comfortable using digital tools and technology to identify the right time to engage with the right opportunities? You should be asking yourself whether your organization has the right mix of skills and competencies to support the transition. Otherwise, you will not remain relevant in a digital and data-driven business environment.

If your team doesn’t have the right mix, you should focus on closing the gap. You can do this either through on-the-job training or via recruiting talent with the skills and competencies needed to complement your team and match the new demands.

2. Temptation to ignore data when in conflict with previous experience

Another important barrier to be aware of is the temptation to ignore hard data when/if in conflict with your own experience and intuition. Have you ever been tempted to ignore facts because they were in conflict with your own beliefs and emotions? Recent research revealed that marketing managers will distrust the validity of data when inconsistent with their own experiences. Only 10% of respondents said they would follow data-driven recommendations if it didn’t confirm their gut feeling. How many of your sales reps would pursue an opportunity even when objective analysis suggests the opportunity doesn’t have a chance of closing?

To avoid this barrier, sales leaders need to encourage behavioral changes and a willingness to go beyond the “I do not trust data” attitude. Otherwise, sales reps and managers can easily fall into the old habit of purely trusting their intuition when chasing an opportunity. While there is nothing wrong with intuition, in todays highly competitive and resource-constrained B2B selling environment, intuition alone is not a reliable measure to inform critical decisions about opportunities.

By being aware of these potential obstacles, sales organizations will be better positioned to succeed. Can you think about any other potential barrier? Have you encounter any of the above-mentioned barriers during your transition? Share your thoughts with us via our LinkedIn page.

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