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Is your commercial data your new gold yet?

Want to keep capitalizing on commercial opportunities in this fast changing world? Then you really can't go without data-driven market leadership anymore: deliberate, well educated commercial decisions. Not just based on gut feeling, but on the ultimate combination of reliable insights, and available experience and knowledge of the entire team.

Various sources claim that data is the new gold. That you can make a lot of money on it. Can you imagine what this means for your strategic commercial insights!

Data is nothing new

Most likely you'll have heard of data-driven leadership. Maybe it has already been implemented in your organization. Are digital tools being used and is a data-driven culture being nurtured, one that stimulates employees to measure, test and evaluate quantitative evidence. But the word ‘data’ has become quite a container concept. And is being interpreted in various –sometimes even pretty creative- ways.

Technically, each element you can gather is data: a name, a date, an amount, et cetera. So, working with data is not really new. We've all been doing it for quite some years. But we have become more aware lately of the opportunities data offers us. We realize that these opportunities keep growing due to digitization. And so, just to be sure, companies are collecting enormous amounts of data. Mostly about factors that can be counted or measured, so they can be used in dashboards to monitor targets. Such as utilisation rate, reaction time to complaints or customer satisfaction.

But what does data-driven leadership mean for the commercial department?

Many of the currently used digital systems show how we perform on a commercial level: which campaign triggered reactions, what channel has the lowest cost, which sales rep did or did not reach their targets. But your performance is also determined by your business environment. Just look at laws and regulations, or activities of your competitors. These aspects hugely affect the extent to which we can reach our goals. That's why insights about the entire playing field should be included in major decisions. That is what we call data-driven market leadership.

Data-driven market leadership is the systematic mapping of the organization's entire playing field and -based on relevant insights, agile leadership, and digital technology- deliberately taking strategic decisions to realize your commercial ambitions fast and with less risks.

This means that data-driven market leadership goes beyond collecting and monitoring data. And beyond looking at your own performance. Let's go a bit deeper into some of the key elements of this definition.

Systematic approach

Only if you can see the full picture, with all factors that shape your success, you can set the right priorities. Get effective Go-To-Markets and campaigns, and a portfolio and activities that truly add value. By only looking at a selection of these factors, for instance only the sales results from the past and/or online customer behavior, you'll guaranteed get a distorted image of the situation and the opportunities or risks.

You may, for instance, have sold a specific product or service well in a certain country. But if one of your strongest competitors also accesses that market, it can have serious results for your sales results. If they manage to offer the customer the same or even more value at a comparable or lower price, your marketing and sales activities will probably not deliver much results anymore. And it may be wiser to focus on markets where that competitor does not operate yet.

So, it's crucial get an integrated picture. Of your ambitions and performance, business environment, market fit and options to improve. Yes, that's quite some factors. That also change continuously. Which makes it often –especially if the organization also serves multiple markets- difficult to oversee the entire playing field. The only way to deal with this is a systematic, methodical and collaborative approach.

Systematic meaning a coherent way of working, following a system. Methodic that you use proven business models. And collaborative that you commit to collaboration to get input on all factors and bring together the various possible perspectives.

Deliberate decisions

We constantly have to make choices. Sometimes smaller ones, other times bigger ones. Especially as a commercial leader these bigger, strategic choices can have a major impact. If you deploy your people and energy in the wrong market, it can negatively affect your sales results for a long time. Sometimes even several years.

In order to take the right decisions, and take them confidently, you need relevant information. You need to be able to oversee the consequences of your decision. Because no matter whether you choose option A, B or C: each decision has consequences. Even not choosing any of your options, for instance because you are not willing to accept the consequences, means -implicitly- taking a decision: to maintain the current situation. To postpone having to decide until the situation becomes untenable. Usually leaving you with an outcome that is much worse than if you would have taken that unpleasant decision originally.

Relevant information helps in making rational considerations. In putting the pro's and con's together. Or mapping the risks of each option. We are, however, no robots. That is why in most cases also your emotion and intuition play a role in the decision process. And that is good. As a good balance between reliable insights and available experience and knowledge of the entire team will ensure the right choices.

Agile and resilient leadership

The growing amount of digital tools and a data-driven culture also means something for the mindset and skills commercial leaders need to have. It requires agility on personal level: not only should you be open to change direction, you also need to be able to do so. To creatively adjust in various situations. Be able to let go of old systems and move on to a new way of working, hence: go through a digital transformation. With a different type of decision making and management style.

Moreover, you need a significant amount of resilience: you need to understand which elements can help you solve issues and have the flexibility to use them however needed, which tools can help you with this and be able to keep a cool head in cases of changes.

Are you making data-driven commercial decisions yet?

To keep capitalizing on commercial opportunities you can no longer do without data-driven market leadership. Data-driven market leadership is about systematically mapping the entire playing field and deliberately taking strategic decisions to realize your commercial ambitions fast and with less risks. This comes with relevant insights, agile leadership, and digital technology. Because our performance is also determined by our business environment. So we better include that influence in our strategic decision process.

Want to know more? Keep an eye out for our next newsletter or contact us to discuss where you are in the above mentioned process and how to take further steps.


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