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Flowserve finds solace in data-driven decision making

Christopher W. Cabrera CEO Xactly
By Christopher W. Cabrera CEO, Xactly

FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies

COVID-19 marked the first time in history that supply, demand and the workforce were impacted at the same time by an adverse event. Manufacturing sites shut down, ports closed and the global economy was hit hard.

When all three of these components of the global supply chain were halted, it resulted in the most significant hit to the U.S. manufacturing industry seen in the last 100 years, according to the Federal Reserve.

Many manufacturers struggled. But Flowserve, a provider of fluid motion and control products and services, managed to successfully respond to the pandemic.

The company’s secret: harnessing real-time data to adapt its sales plans quickly and decisively.

David Lowe, a Flowserve veteran of 27 years and current global director of sales operations, has been a leading voice in the strategic direction of the company’s sales organization. Like most global companies, he began to see the pandemic’s toll and needed to act.

So, he turned to sales performance management technology, which allowed him to pivot his sales plans instantly by leveraging actionable insights to make informed decisions on how to get back on track.

Specifically, the software allowed Lowe to access data on his team’s year-to-date sales performance, which showed him how they were achieving against expectations. He also looked at the opportunity funnel and quotation activity, in terms of both quantity and value. From there, he overlaid a conversion rate to predict future behavior.

The data gave him more bad news than good: Flowserve was underperforming in its achievement, their funnel was elongating and moving away from buying decisions, quote volume and values were down and conversion was low.

Based on these analytics, Flowserve implemented immediate changes to its sales incentive plan design, performance incentive fund, sales structure, territories and selling costs. As a result, it was able to move with agility and put the business in a stronger position.

For manufacturers today, having this kind of transparency into sales data is imperative. To navigate a turbulent market and set sales reps up for success, sales leaders need to be able to adjust their strategies and make smart decisions informed by objective analytics.

Sales data can be useful in many ways, including when it comes to territory alignment. When COVID-19 hit, many companies had to reallocate territories based on changing regional conditions. Having access to a rich source of data could help leaders make better-informed changes before their sales numbers suffered.

For Flowserve, applying data to make adjustments to its sales plans was invaluable. Relying on gut-level instinct and spreadsheets to make those decisions would have been too slow and prone to inaccuracy.

Looking forward, having strong visibility into sales activity will continue to be a vital asset, as the road ahead is filled with economic uncertainty.

The days of assessing performance and making business decisions at the end of the month, quarter or year are over. This moment requires companies—especially those in hard-hit industries like manufacturing—to invest in technology that enables access to real-time sales insights, and the ability to evaluate and execute on those insights continuously.

Ultimately, harnessing data affords organizations better accuracy in their planning, laying a solid foundation for recovery and setting the stage for sustainable growth on the other side of this crisis.

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