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ATD Blog

Decision Making More than a Game of Chance


Tue Jul 16 2013


Sales Performance and Productivity Series – post 3 of 4. For Post 1 and Post 2, follow Links.

Decision Making More than a Game of Chance-d379d42a2de2c87c655ea0aa641011da43f5a7e885aae0d40b3a8234f90cce71

Playing heads-or-tails is a pretty straightforward decision-making process. It’s a 50/50 chance of the coin flip. Even though we know that every flip is an independent event, we can’t help but let our judgment be swayed by seeing heads come up three times in a row. It makes it a tough decision not to go tails on the next flip. The mathematical reality is that heads or tails is a completely random outcome outside of our control.


Strategic decision making for sales leaders is not so straightforward. There are countless variables, perspectives, and agendas that need to be considered when making strategic decisions about the sales organization: its ability to perform this quarter, this year, and next year. And the strategic issues quickly pile up—coverage models, metrics, people issues, messaging, and technology.

Making decisions is further complicated by the swirl of change taking place in our own organizations with the launch of new products, the introduction of new strategies, and collaboration with new people performing in new roles. Combine that with evolving markets, a vacillating economy, and the relentless pursuit of competitors and it forces the sales leader to continuously adapt and transform to compete and succeed. There is no status quo, only constant evolution.

Weighing the Data

This vortex of change forces sales leaders to rely on their experience and judgment when information and data may not be available – or worse yet, not trusted. As technology advances and sales teams mature, sales leaders are being exposed to, and now demanding, the next level of data transparency.  That includes sales funnel data that captures conversion and velocity in addition to revenue, marketing data on leads, prospects and customer behavior or territory optimization data, and productivity data from finance.

The next level of transparency provides sales leaders with data-driven facts to complement their judgment. Fresh insights from new data can quantify data previously supported exclusively by judgment, including:

  • sales cycle length

  • marketing contribution to funnel

  • competitive win rates or cost per opportunity.

Building the Foundation

Leveraging the next level of transparency will require a solid foundation of performance and productivity data for reference in order to get inside the data for analysis and interpretation. With deeper, richer insights to sales productivity, sales leaders can choose with greater confidence and measure progress.

Just like the coin flip, we can’t control all the variables in sales. But with better data providing deeper insights to the performance and productivity of the sales organization, we can improve our odds of success beyond 50/50.

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