Are Your Sales Reps Selling to the Right Accounts?

Why a future-first, bottom-up approach may be more effective in your organization.

I recently interviewed Steve Promisel, Vice President of Global Sales Operations at Qlik, about how Qlik optimizes its sales force (using Qlik Sense, of course).

Here’s a transcript of our chat:

Mike Saliter: What does Qlik do differently in regards to sales planning?

Steve Promisel: Most companies position their sales teams based on the past. We’ve sold there before and sales are increasing, so we should add more sales reps to specific geographies or industries or other market segments. Or, sales are declining in this geography, so let’s decrease the investment or even exit the market. Of course, sales executives also take economic and other market conditions into account and determine whether they have the right sales leadership in place. But the majority of the account analysis is backwards.

At Qlik, we decided to take a future-first, bottom up approach. With Qlik Sense, we can analyze millions of data records in seconds, allowing us to take a much more holistic view of the market. Where other companies focus on customers and prospects, we also do a deep dive on suspects, too. Qlik has over 40,000 customers, perhaps another few hundred thousand prospects, but there are literally millions of companies (many are small, to be sure) out there that can take advantage of data analytics to improve their business.

Mike: What are you ultimately trying to accomplish?

Steve: We are using all of this data, plus an algorithm that calculates account potential, to help us determine where we could increase investment. That investment could be in specific countries or regions, or into industries that are especially attracted to data analytics. With this information, we can answer many questions such as where to make the investment, what accounts are potentially most valuable to us, does each rep have enough potential business to help them achieve their quota and are reps balanced across their sales teams (which helps increase the probability of each sales leader making their own target) without relying on “heroes”. I’ll answer the first question here, then save the rest for future blog articles.

Mike: Before you do that, where does all of this data come from?

Steve: Much of the data comes from our own systems. We use Salesforce very heavily for forecasting, account management, opportunity management, campaigns and so on. Information about reps comes from Workday, including their physical location. Account data comes from Dun and Bradstreet.

The majority of the sales account analysis is backwards; here's how to steer clear of trouble:

The screenshot below provides a wealth of information all at once. It tells us where we are investing today, where we could increase the investment or even where we may be overinvesting. Our Market360 app in Qlik Sense allows us to explore our market potential in an incredible number of ways. Geographically, from operating region even down to an individual postal code, by industry even down to a SIC code, by company employee size (we could also do it by company revenue if we want) or by several other attributes including whether accounts are customers or not, “named” or not, or has a high amount of potential…or not.

Figure 1: Potential by country, gray dots indicate # of accounts, green dots indicate location of reps.

The scatter plot above balances pipeline vs. potential, the sector drill helps us figure out where to focus on industries, and the bar chart on the bottom left tells us potential by company size.

Mike: This is incredible. I wish we could spend more time on this, but we’ll save it for another time. Last question: if I want more information about this, where do I go?

Steve: Contact your Qlik sales representative. Many of our sales reps use Market360 with their sales leaders to better understand their territories, so they would be very happy to discuss their success with prospective customers.

Mike: Steve, thanks again for your time.


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