Blog What Sales Managers can Learn from Computer Programmers

Posted June 29, 2017 by Jason Dauwen

If salespeople are putting their products in front of anyone who will listen, they’re probably not selling as efficiently as they could be. Take some advice from this former computer programmer: there’s a better way.

Efficiency in Computer Programs

Computers perform calculations by evaluating a series of ones and zeroes. Some programs evaluate the data sequentially, comparing a single set of ones and zeroes against provided criteria before moving on to the next set.

Relational databases introduced a more efficient way to process information. Databases use indexes - shortcuts that only look at specific indicators to more quickly eliminate data unnecessary to decision-making, reducing processing time to get the same answers.

Our digital experiences would be dreadful without this relational concept. Imagine trying to find a pair of running shoes on a shopping website that had to evaluate every bit of product information on every product in its inventory, before it could identify which products are running shoes. This is why websites provide filters (such as Category: Clothing), which leverage indexes to create shortcuts to the more likely matches in the inventory. The shopping website doesn’t need to check to see if a can opener is running shoes. It can skip over appliances altogether.

So what? Why should sales managers care about this bits and bytes stuff?

Are Your Salespeople Efficient?

Imagine if your salespeople tried to meet with every advisor in their territory, evaluating every bit of information before determining whether that advisor meets the right criteria for a sale. Ridiculous, right? But the fact is that many salespeople are still using a version of this sequential processing approach when calling on advisors, because they’re overlooking data that could help them eliminate advisors who aren’t aligned with your firm’s business strategy and offerings. In other words, they’re spending time on advisors who are probably never going to buy your firm’s products.

Distribution Solutions What Sales Managers Can Learn illustration 

An index could really reduce the amount of time it takes to identify which advisors might buy products. A strong advisor segmentation process will provide this index. For example, your segmentation strategy should be able to identify for each advisor the:

  • Value, or how well the advisor’s needs align with your offerings.
  • Potential sales opportunity, or how many of your offerings might the advisor want to purchase and what is the potential revenue/profit from those sales.
  • Influence, or whether the advisor takes an approach to portfolio management which can or cannot be guided by your salespeople.

Segmenting data in this way creates a value-opportunity-influence index that can assist salespeople in making smarter choices on where to focus their time.

That results in a more efficient sales process, as salespeople will be able to focus only on advisors that are likely to produce the best sales outcomes.

If you’re already providing salespeople with business intelligence that identifies the best targets, yet salespeople are not using that information to eliminate advisors who are clearly not a good fit with your offerings, challenge those salespeople to a foot race in which you wear running shoes and they wear can openers. Guess who gets to the finish line faster?

The next report in our series Prevailing in a Changing Distribution Landscape is "Preparing Sales Teams for Change." The report focuses on how sales organizations will need to evolve to adapt to a quickly changing distribution landscape.

Jason Dauwen
Business Research Consultant
Research, Analytics, and Consulting

categories: business intelligence, predictive analytics, product strategy, robo advisors/robo-advisors, advisor segmentation

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.

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