Stop Sales Management by Guesstimate

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I have a confession to make. Over the more than 20 years that I’ve led enablement programs for companies, I suspect that some of what I’ve done has been a shameful waste of money. Sure, my initiatives to increase corporate sales effectiveness received favorable feedback, and no doubt they produced some benefits for individual employees, teams, and business units. But in the final analysis, most of the time, I never really knew the financial return on investment from my efforts, because the data just wasn’t available to answer that question. 

This same kind of “management by guesstimate” is prevalent throughout every corporation today. Think about it. When a company’s sales are trending below target, what’s the typical reaction? Almost invariably it’s to hire more sales people, conduct more training programs, expand into new territories, add new products, or take other actions that may have worked in the past. But these kinds of knee-jerk reactions can be a tremendous waste of time and money. 

Today, thanks to plentiful data and smart analytics, companies can gain the insights they need to diagnose problems and make sound decisions. In my own field of sales enablement, for example, I know exactly how my programs are performing. I know which sales enablement programs to drive, because data gives me insights about the sales pipeline and sales skills deficiencies. I know who should attend my trainings, what trainings they should attend, and when. After the trainings are completed, data tells me in dollars and other pipeline metrics what effect they are having. I can plan my efforts for maximum impact and measure the results in terms of sales productivity. What a huge improvement from management by guesstimate. 

I want to give you actionable insights into how to use data and analytics to drive measurable business impact that will positively transform your sales organization. In other words, I want to help you experience this same exciting journey. That’s why I am facilitating ATD’s virtual event, Data Driven Sales Enablement. 


No doubt, organizations are increasingly reliant upon data analytics for decision making and competitive advantage. Big data and analytics are the keys to success, but so far almost no one is optimally leveraging these tools. Winning businesses gain their advantage by taking smarter actions and predicting outcomes. Gone are the days you or your sales leadership can use intuition or past history. They must harness the power of data analytics, not just as a tool, but as a mindset. 


During Data Driven Sales Talent Development, I will address the analytical skills gap that prevents you from taking advantage of the full potential of data analytics to transform sales effectiveness. What’s more, I will show you how to design and implement effective learning for your sales teams with measurable business impact using a Prescriptive Action Model. 

In three breakout sessions, you will use a simulation tool to prescribe a solution to a real-world sales enablement issue by applying the results of data analytics. You’ll leave with the knowledge, resources, and tools to transform your organization from one that manages by “guesstimate” to one whose business decisions are data driven. 

Editor’s Note: For more on this topic, check out Data Driven (Wiley, 2015), a "how-to" guide to boosting sales through predictive and prescriptive analytics.

About the Author

Jenny Dearborn is a leading authority on sales enablement and training, with expertise in big data and predictive analytics. As Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer for SAP, she designs and drives employee learning and enablement strategy. Dearborn was recognized as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology in 2014 and 2015 by the National Diversity Council, and through the Fortune Most Powerful Women Network, she is a mentor for the U.S. State Department to female entrepreneurs in developing countries. Her team was named by eLearning Magazine the #1 top performing corporate learning organization in the world in 2013.


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