SPECIAL EPISODE 007a: Tableau Sales Leader Ed Beaurain Shares Insights on Optimizing the Sales Data You Should Be Capturing
ED’S CLOSING TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Keep it simple. It’s an overwhelming journey – a journey that will never end in terms of leveraging data to support your sales team. Start with just a question and based on that question leverage information and data to go ahead and support the output and the insides from that question. It’s something that’s critical so if you’re not doing it, you have to start. “
Today we’re having a conversation with Tableau sales director Ed Beaurain.
Ed’s an expert on using data analytics in the sales process. The question has come up many times from listeners of the Sales Game Changers podcast and members of the Institute for Excellence in Sales:
What are some of the best ways, some of the best practices to use analytics?
What are some of the analytics they should be using to help them more effectively accelerate the sales process?
Find Ed on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Tell us about your career in analytics to date.
Ed Beaurain: At Penn State I focused in finance and with that degree I then jumped into a Nestle sales leadership development program living in Phoenix, Denver, Cleveland and DC selling the portfolio products and then jumping into analysis of those billion dollar brands and that’s when I learned about Microsoft Excel, the power of pivot tables, of doing analysis, of making better data-driven decisions. Then I found out about Tableau and I said, “I have to be a part of this mission of helping people see and understand data.”
I joined the company three and a half years ago in DC, there were about five of us, we started at a Regus office suite, moved on to a WeWork where there were 60 of us and now we’re here at 18th and K where there’s about 165 of us and growing.
My current role is the director of sales for the east coast, my team – about 34 folks – support the landing of Net New Logos for the Tableau team and analytics is a critical part of that.
Fred Diamond: Let’s just get right into it. Tell us what some of the purposes are of using analytics in the sales process.
Ed Beaurain: There are numbers that are coming from every single decision that we make, also from what our customers are doing as well in terms of interacting with our product. The use of those analytics allows the sales reps to better allocate their time, to allocate their time with the right conversations and with the right people to ensure that we’re providing a superior service and product to our customers. We’re using sales analytics throughout the entire sales process, from the first time a customer downloads a trial to their investment in our product to their successful role out and enablement of Tableau across their organization.
Fred Diamond: You’re saying that they can be used throughout the entire sales process. Is there any point in the sales process when analytics are more important or have you seen great benefit used throughout the entire process?
Ed Beaurain: At this point, it’s throughout the entire process. We’ve been a company that’s been built on the use of analytics now for over 10 years but I think it’s really important early on in the sales process. There’s nothing that’s more important than understanding the business need that we’re solving for the customer and that happens on the first phone call so leveraging analytics to go ahead and better support that is critical because it’s going to give our customer a better experience and it’s going to allow our rep to better really fine tune where their focus is to ensure that they’re allocating their energy the right way.
Fred Diamond: You mentioned when you were starting out you were using Excel and power pivot tables and I’ve done a lot of work with Microsoft and Excel as well. It’s probably the most common business application, of course, in the history of mankind and a lot of companies are still relying probably on Excel spreadsheets to manage their business and to track the analytics, if you will. If you have a company like Tableau and your space you’re obviously saying that it’s spreadsheets on steroids doesn’t even really give it the appreciation it deserves but tell us a little bit about the power of what you use for the data analytics software that Tableau provides versus the spreadsheets that probably 90% of our listeners are using today.
Ed Beaurain: Don’t get me wrong, I will never forget the V lookup formula or just an amazing pivot table that I build but it wasn’t meant to help business users and frontline reps and frontline managers make better decisions in a timely manner to support our customers. We have a great example, we have one of our sales leaders on my team who actually went ahead and connected to our data through our CRM through our marketing data sources and worked with myself and many others to create a slew of dashboards across the organization.
Over the past year it’s become the most used dash board in the history of Tableau in a sandbox that’s been created by our sales managers and that’s allowed us to better support our customers, to better manage our pipeline, to understand where we’re winning, where we’re losing, our average sale cycle, our average order size, all of those metrics are critical to have better discussions to support our reps. They appreciate it because there’s a level of transparency that happens there on 50 minute increments that allows them to do their job as they were asked to do.
Fred Diamond: What should a sales leader be using as it relates to data analytics? You mentioned Dashboard, you mentioned KPI’s, just give us the fifty thousand view of ideally best case scenario what a sales leader should be using as it relates to data analytics for sales.
Ed Beaurain: I think that most folks are using the analytics piece on the output and they’re saying, “Let’s talk about quota, let’s talk about attainment, let’s talk about forecasting and how are we doing versus our goals.” Analytics should be used on the inputs, what are the leads that are coming in, where are they coming from, what type of roles and industries are they coming from? What postal codes are growing, what postal codes are declining, where are the leads coming from a lead source detail perspective? Is if folks downloading trials or reading white papers or attending an in person webinar?
Those are the things that we want to be focused on so that our reps can provide value early on in the sale cycle. By monitoring and measuring those we can ensure their success which at the end will ensure that they have a higher ability to go ahead and achieve their quota and their attainment and all of that information is available. The question is are we leveraging that to make better decisions not for 2019 but for this week, for next week and for this quarter and the back half of the year?
Fred Diamond: What do you think is the adoption rate? Is everybody using data analytic software today appropriately or are we still pen and paper or still Excel? What do you think?
Ed Beaurain: I think everyone’s using analytics in some shape or form. If you’re a sales organization, if you’re a member of a sales team you have a goal and you have to achieve that goal. There’s a number of calls that you’re looking to make, there’s a number of opportunities you’re looking to open, there’s a close rate that you have and there’s goals that you’re looking to close.
How prevalent analytics are in the process, that’s the different question. How quickly are you able to go ahead and leverage that data to make decisions – that’s another question. I don’t have concerns about companies leveraging analytics to make decisions, it’s how prevalent are those analytics and how optimally are they a part of the development of their people to ensure that they have the best opportunity to succeed in the role while providing utmost transparency which will increase collaboration on the sales floor versus no one knowing their goals, people not knowing what success looks like, scratching their head, that’s not a good culture for a sales team.
Fred Diamond: You mentioned before that one of the sales leaders over here at Tableau created their own dashboard which has become very prevalent in use. How have you seen organizations use analytic software, is it from top down? Here’s what you should be looking at, here’s the ten-fifteen reports and the ten-15 are generated on a weekly, daily basis, whatever. Or do you find that since analytics are now available at the desktop that people are creating their own? What do you see the mix on that?
Ed Beaurain: Every morning I come into the sales floor here and there’s some version of a dashboard up on someone’s monitor and they’re leveraging it to plan for their day and to make better decisions. The examples with one of my managers, his name’s David Friedfeld, what he did was he had questions that he wasn’t able to answer and he knew that leveraging data would be able to answer those questions not just for himself, for our team, for the greater DC sales floor and for really at this point all of Tableau in the US.
There were questions about, again, pipeline health, marketing events, leveraging our partner ecosystem, whatever it was he had questions and we were spending more time looking for the answers than actually making decisions based on that information. It came from a sales manager who’s questions, who now has a platform that they’re able to connect, analyze and share that data in a way that’s scalable for an organization and secure and in a way that sales reps understand because it’s content that’s being created by sales leaders, not a department that’s focused on IT or analytics that doesn’t know what we’re doing day in and day out.
You have that balance on a sales floor, innovation happens much more quickly and we start to see the success immediately and feedback loops as well. This dashboard for example, it’s been out there for 18 months. It’s been iterated over 150 times but that’s how you go ahead and innovate and leverage analytics in a sales organization to most importantly better support your customers and ensure their successful adoption of your service or your product.
Fred Diamond: That’s great. We have a lot of young sales managers listening to the Sales Game Changers podcast around the globe, we have people all over the globe who listen to the podcast. What would be your advice for some of the more junior sales leaders who may be new to sales management as it relates to analytics? How should they be using them or because of that generation they’re already using data crisply. What do you see on that regard?
Ed Beaurain: I made every mistake I think a sales manager can make and with this, this is the data, here’s what you need to do, it’s a basis for alignment so that you can then have a conversation about the inputs that are needed to go ahead and solve for that problem. A lot of young managers come in here and say, “You’re not making enough calls” versus, “How many leads are you getting? What’s the quality of those leads? Are you calling those leads, are you taking them through a five call process? What’s your open rate, your close rate? Let’s have a discussion about the inputs rather than the outputs.”
Analytics is meant to guide your journey and guide your discussion but it is not the conclusion of that discussion and that’s something that young sales managers need to go ahead and focus on early on because reps understand that and they want buy in, they want alignment and they want to be successful just as much as you.
Fred Diamond: That’s a great point. One of the things that we constantly hear from the Sales Game Changers podcast from our listeners is people are put under shorter time frame to be successful and you mentioned before in one of your examples, you said, “Are you making enough calls? Maybe that’s not the problem. Maybe the problem is you’re not getting good qualified leads so let’s use the data to figure that out, if you will.” Sounds to me that if you can truly understand how to best use the data and understand other avenues of what it means, you can coach your sales professionals, your young sales people to be much more effective.
Ed Beaurain: Absolutely. Imagine that it’s not the sales manager doing this but it’s the sales rep themselves. I had a sales rep that has Florida that was not maybe getting the leads that he was accustomed to at the beginning of the year. He did some analysis, he understood the industries and the postal codes where he was gaining traction, not gaining traction, we were able to go ahead and leverage that information to create a one week in territory plan that allowed him to connect with the right customers and the right prospects to better support his long term and short term goals. You’re putting the onus back on the rep, the data’s available, they can go ahead and do that to run their business, that’s what scales.
Fred Diamond: Ed, you’ve given us some great ideas here on how to best use analytics to be effective. Let’s talk specifically through the sales process. First, pipeline health. What should sales leaders be looking for in the analytics side as it relates to managing their pipeline?
Ed Beaurain: First, they need to be looking at it. I think when you’re looking at your pipeline there’s so many different ways that you can look at opportunities. For us, we’re focused on net new acquisitions of Tableau. We want to use analytics to understand the customer engagement, are they spending time on our website? Are they spending time interacting with the sales reps? Are the sales reps spending time having live conversations with those prospects creating energy in those accounts to solve business problems?
Most of the time that’s spent early on in the sales process. For us, that’s the most important part to go ahead and leverage analytics because that’s the critical area where companies are deciding how am I going to evaluate this software, who’s going to be involved and what business problems are we going to be solving throughout this process? But we see it in every aspect of the pipeline, how many days has it been open, how many days has it been in that stage, how does that compare to our average sale cycle for Q1, for Q2, is this an account that’s looking at just one aspect of our portfolio of products or are they investing in the suite?
Are they investing in services, in training? We want to make sure that we have all these data points because we know what a successful deployment looks like and we want to make sure that our customers are also bought into what a successful deployment looks like. A lot of that is from having data. How many folks should be involved in the trial process? We think it’s five or more because it creates an aspect of collaboration that’s critical when you really want buy in to use analytics to move the company forward.
There’s data absolutely everywhere, you can be overwhelmed by it but at the end of the day you’re using it to better coach and support your frontline leaders so that they can achieve their personal professional goals but we can also most importantly support our customers in their adoption and deployment of Tableau.
Fred Diamond: I love what you just said, you said your sales professionals using the analytics properly can help them create energy in their accounts to solve business problems and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about using the analytics data, it’s not about putting a process into place to manage, it’s about being more effective and helping your customers solve their business problems because Ed, one of the things that we’ve learned through the Sales Game Changers podcast is that it’s more than ever a challenge to demonstrate to your prospects and your customers the value that you’re providing to them.
The customers have choices, they have access to the internet to get information they didn’t really need from you as a sales professional anymore so sales professionals are constantly challenged with providing extreme value to their customers so I really liked the way you said that. How about during the sales stage conversion process? What types of analytics should be used there?
Ed Beaurain: I think it’s similar. When you’re looking at the different stages that you’re in, do the conversations align with the stage? And if it does, fantastic, how can we provide additional resources to go ahead and solidify that stage and next step. If not, how can we make sure that that’s reflected accordingly? Because that comes down to how you forecast your business, how you call your business, if you’re seeing a gap, if you’re seeing an opportunity to go ahead and over achieve, really again everything that we’re doing here is helping the reps focus on their inputs.
What are they doing today, what are they planning for the back half of this week, for next week to ensure that their customers are being more successful with their use of Tableau. In terms of creating energy I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing leaders here at Tableau, Sarah Lash, Sam Cervantes, Nick VanBuskirk, many other leaders within the organization here at DC and they think about creating energy in a very special way.
It’s not again just about the conversation that the reps are having with these sales leaders at different companies, it’s about their engagement with marketing. It’s about their understanding of the line of business and how it’s financed using it versus marketing, versus sales, versus operations because all of those aspects of the organizations are solving different problems but they’re using rows and columns of information to solve that and we believe that business intelligence, that analytics to support that is the only way to go because it’s just growing every single day and the days are just getting harder. The competition is getting fiercer and if your goal is to better support your customers you should be using those rows and columns to help do that.
Fred Diamond: Ed, give us one final thought to inspire the Sales Game Changers listening to today’s podcast.
Ed Beaurain: Keep it simple. It’s an overwhelming journey, it’s a journey that will never end in terms of leveraging data to support your sales team. Start with just a question and based on that question leverage information and data to go ahead and support the output and the insides from that question. It’s something that’s critical so if you’re not doing it, you have to start. If you are doing it, you need to improve it and if you feel like you’re at the top of your game you need to share those insights because it’s going to help the people around you be better sales professionals, it’s going to help you retain top talent, it’s going to help you achieve goals. Most importantly, it’s going to help you better support your customers and your customers will appreciate it year after year after year. But the most important thing is that this is just the beginning of the journey, dip your toes in the water and have a blast doing it.