3 Mistakes Managers Make with Data Analytics

Jul 15, 2016

Leaders holding a meeting

I’m just finishing off my second full week in my new position as Manager of Sales & Business Development. I have learned an immense amount of knowledge in the past two weeks and I am so grateful for it. 

With this being a completely new role for me, I immediately began searching the internet for tips and tricks on being a successful manager and how to best support my team. Out of all the articles and infographics I read, I kept seeing the same message, know your data. 

I believe every company sits on data gold mines so I get the hype surrounding data analytics. As part of my new duties, using our Qlik Sense dashboards is a large component so I can measure sales, sales rep performance, and gain usable insights from trends.

During the training process to become a successful manager and having worked with many managers facilitating training, I have identified 3 mistakes that often arise. 

Mistake #1: Not using all the data available 

It doesn’t make sense to sit in the dark when there is so much data swimming in organizations. Using a good business intelligence tool to gather valuable data is important to educate staff, better manage and coach staff and understand gaps in processes. 

Let me give you an example. In our system we track as much data as we can because things you wouldn’t imagine have a correlation, actually do! One thing I love to track is outbound calls and time on the call for each sales rep. This helps us prepare our calling campaigns because we can see day and time trends to help better target our audience. It also is helpful when evaluating performance and allows for valuable conversations during one on one meetings. 

I also track number of opportunities in each stage of our sales funnel. This is a great visual to have on the screen during these one on one meetings as well. If there are too many sitting in pre-funnel it provides an opportunity to discuss strategy. 

Mistake #2: Not letting your data speak for itself

One of the challenges I hear more often than not is that managers have to go into different systems to analyze data that should be integrated into one simple system for quick decision making capabilities, ease of use and efficiency. As a manager I recognize how my time needs to be spent and if I was spending all my time going into different databases to collect data in an unstructured form I would be losing very valuable time. It’s a good thing all of our data is consolidated into one powerful system, Qlik Sense. 

Unstructured data does not work well because it is not a natural process. Users get tunnel vision with limited access to data, there is no ability to modify without becoming a distraction for IT and on the spot decision making is not possible. People are impatient, if we have a question we need the answer immediately or we forget about it. By working with structured data, it works the same way our natural human curiosity works. I love watching managers make sense of their data through multiple data connection points. The relationships are instant and visually appealing which allows a manager to spend more time coaching and supporting teams rather than deep into data that makes no sense.  

Mistake #3: Not connecting people with the data

With drastic changes in the organizational environment it is not possible to make confident decisions without smart and powerful analytics. This is why having the right data and understanding that data is so important to influence others and know when to take action. 

Data-driven organizations have distinct advantages over those that have not entered the world of analytics and taken the time to make sense of their data. Managers equipped with the right data have the ability to craft better strategies, uncover new markets, keep costs low and drive sales. 

Often times if the right business intelligence tool isn’t in place I find managers spend so much time upfront getting the data ready that they forget about the communication piece. This crucial piece is about letting the story speak and now allowing others to think about that story, ask questions around it and plan. Data is great, it gives you the what. But it is the human beings that know the why and can impact the numbers. I strongly believe that data needs stories. We live in a complex world that focuses highly on data but we rarely bring those numbers to life. Stories provide interpretation, they provide context and enable us to ask deeper questions and collaborate with each other. 

Isn’t it true that we remember good stories? If we created great stories around our data, our teams would be able to find meaning in the work they do and connect their performance to it. Good stories make any information memorable.