<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/4z2e82sWyhmveGlCzuJa" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">
Untitled presentation (1)

Tactical Best Practices for B2B Sales - Data Access-Sales Interactions

Authored by Ric Ratkowski on February 25, 2020

The typical situation we found many of our sales prospects in when they were considering our solution is:

  • Sales reps don’t timely update their sales force automation platform
  • Sales reps don’t have sufficient, timely and accurate information about their sales opportunities
  • Sales Managers don’t have the data they needed to accurately forecast sales for the quarter or coach their direct reports on specific opportunities
  • The end-of-quarter is a mad scramble and there is no visibility into the deals to focus on
  • Forecast accuracy suffered

Generally speaking, the more data you can collect on the sales opportunity the better.  However, in addition to collecting the information, it has to be organized in a manner that is easily accessible, “in-context” with other information used to make similar decisions  and presented when the user is ready to consume it (but we will save that for a later blog).  

Solving the Data Problems with Best Practices

Implementing the data access best practices is a journey, it requires change management, and it is incremental.  It requires technology changes, behavioral changes and a focus on making processes more efficient. To help the implementation of these processes the best practices are described in terms of:


Current Status Quo we see most of our new customers at when we implement them


An incremental first step to streamline the data collection process


Enhancements to good to increase benefits and decrease workload for data collection on the sales reps


Description of best practices in collecting data and making it available to everyone in a highly usable manner


The previous blog defined four categories of data:  sales activity dynamics; opportunity attributes; buying team members and roles; and company attributes.  The remainder of this blog reviews best practices for sales activity dynamics in a good/better/best format.  Subsequent blogs will look at tactical best practices in the other areas.

Sales Activity Dynamics

Tactical Best Practices in Sales Activity Dynamics

Problem/Business Need:

Sales reps and sales management work in a vacuum.  The SFA application is not consistently and timely updated with changes to the opportunity or sales interactions.  Sales reps need help keeping up with updating all the sales interactions in their CRM system so details do not slip through the cracks and they can spend more time “selling”.


  • Need to timely track inbound activity from opportunities reflects in the overall health of the opportunities.  
  • Sales management needs access to most recent buyer/seller interaction to have an unbiased judgement on the current status of a sales opportunity.
  • The more information sales management has on buyer/seller interactions the better position they are in to coach the sales rep on appropriate actions for this opportunity.  

The need is to automate:

  • The data collection of inbound and outbound email activity, including the content of the emails.
  • The data collection of all meetings and calls scheduled in the calendar
  • The content and results of meetings. 





Sales reps update their SFA application with meeting schedules, inbound and outbound email content and summarize meeting results.

Email and meeting counts automatically update the SFA application.  Emails are flagged as inbound emails from the prospects vs outbound emails to the prospect.

Email, meeting and calendar content details automatically update the SFA application.  The sales rep has the ability to add personal notes and observations to the activity as well as score the activity as positive or negative.  Meeting transcripts are available.  

Activity is automatically scored based on content messages and AI driven sentiment analysis.  Sales reps personal activity rating serves to update the lexicon used for sentiment analysis. Email interface allows editing opportunities while in the email


The baseline is what is currently happening in most companies.  The sales reps are expected to keep the CRM system up to date, while gaining nothing in return.  This process is flawed for a number of reasons. One already mentioned is it takes away from selling time.  Another is the information can be biased by the sales rep. Happy Ears reps may be over optimistic about emails, meetings and other interactions.  Sandbagger reps may not even update CRM until they know they have the deal in the bag.

At the Good level, opportunities are updated with just the count of both inbound and outbound interactions.  The interactions are sequenced by date. Inbound interactions are when the opportunity reaches out to you.  Outbound interactions are when the sales rep reaches out to the opportunity. Inbound interactions are more important than outbound interactions.  Outbound interaction count show that the rep is managing the opportunity. Inbound interactions show the opportunity is interested in what you have to offer.  No inbound interactions in the past 2 - 6 weeks (pick time appropriate for your situation) shows the opportunity is going dark. Measuring counts is a step in the right direction but will fall short in assessing the overall health of an opportunity and subjectively assessing the health of the opportunity.

At the Better level emails, calendar invitations, and meeting results are updated to your SFA application.  This includes full email and meeting content. This saves sales rep time by not requiring them to summarize the email in the CRM application.  It also saves reps time by allowing them to easily reference the most recent correspondence and understand the issues without digging through their email.  It saves sales managers time to have a better understanding of the overall health of the opportunity without needing to interrogate/grill sales reps.  

At the Best level, there are two parts.  The first part is rating the interactions.  The second part is enhancing the email interface with an add-on that allows the rep to take action on the opportunity from within the email application.

Rating emails can be both by AI and allowing the sales rep to also rate the interaction.  When sales reps rate the email content, the AI can also analyze the rating and update the AI lexicon for analyzing email content in the future.  This may seem like over sharpening a point, but it provides an early warning system to potential deals going south, many times even before the sales rep has a chance to read the email. It also provides an unbiased interpretation of the email which helps provide a basis for unbiased opportunity assessment.  

Enhancing the email interface with an add-on goes beyond just pulling in emails from the email server.  It allows sales reps to update their opportunities from within their email application.  It allows the system to work, where the reps work, rather than require the reps to log into the CRM application to change anything.  This overlaps with our next discussion on opportunity attributes and opportunity roles.  The key is to make it as easy as possible for the sales rep to do their job.

Available Solutions

There are quite a few solutions available to get you to the “Better” level of tactical best practices by collecting detailed email, calendar and meeting content.  The challenge most of them have is putting the interactions in-context to the overall sales opportunity and opportunity timeline. Many of them do not group interactions by opportunity and only group them by lead or contact.  Many of them are point solutions, providing a solution to one part of the overall problem and complicating the sales tech stack in the long run.

TopOPPS covers all four levels.  

Next Blog Post

The next blog post will analyze best practices for data access as they relate to opportunity attributes and buying team members and roles.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Lists by Topic

see all

Leverage these best practices with automation and AI driven by TopOPPS

Learn how our customers are winning with artificial intelligence in their CRM:

  • Predictive Sales Forecasting
  • Automated Pipeline Management
  • Significantly More Updates from Reps

Watch Videos

More Recent Posts:

March 26, 2021

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Analytics

The next four blogs focus on best practices related to sales analytics to support an accurate sales forecast.  The previous four best practice blog series of:  Data Access and Enrichment, Sales Pipeline, Sales Opportunity Management and Sales and Sales Management Process set the foundation for accurate, timely, and relevant sales analytics to support the sales forecast.  This is the fifth category of the blog series “Best Practices for B2B Sales Pipeline and Forecast Management started on January 21st of 2020.  The ultimate goal of the analytics is to provide fact-driven information, interpretation and insights  across the four key sales roles: ...

Sales Automation, Sales Operations, AI for Sales, sales best practices, Sales Analytics, Sales Metrics

March 10, 2021

Xactly Acquires TopOPPS to Revolutionize Revenue Operations

Xactly and AI forecasting company TopOPPS set a new standard fordata-driven decision making throughout the Revenue lifecycle SAN JOSE, Calif., March 10, 2021 — Today, Xactly, the leader in revenue intelligence solutions, announces the acquisition of TopOPPS, a company focused on artificial intelligence (AI), sales pipeline management and forecasting. With this strategic acquisition, Xactly is expanding beyond Sales Performance Management to deliver a first-of-its-kind, end-to-end platform for Revenue Operations (RevOps). The combination pairs Xactly’s rich empirical data set and purpose-built AI with TopOPPS’ capabilities in one platform to advance the quality and scope of data-driven decision making throughout the revenue lifecycle. By introducing behavioral data driven forecasting and pipeline management, a new standard of intelligence is redefining revenue performance and shattering status quo thinking. ...

Webinars & events, Sales Process, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, Xactly Acquires TopOPPS

February 22, 2021

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Quarterly Business Review

This blog focuses on the fourth part of the Sales Management Process, the quarterly business review[QBR].  These meetings are held at the beginning of each quarter and in lieu of the monthly sales strategy meeting discussed in the last blog.  These meetings are an integral part of the sales management cadence described by this blog series..  The QBR meetings are individual presentations by the sales rep.  Each rep is given 30 to 60 minutes to review their performance for the previous quarter and their game plan for the new quarter.  The previous quarter review should include a few opportunity postmortems of both close-won and close-lost opportunities.  The QBR meetings are usually done within the first two weeks of the new quarter and set the stage for hitting the current quarter goals.  ...

sales technology, Sales Process, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, sales best practices, QBR, Quarterly Business Review

January 15, 2021

Best Practices For B2B Sales - Monthly Strategy Review

This blog focuses on the third part of the Sales Management Process, the monthly strategy review.  These meetings are held on a monthly basis, usually twice a quarter, at the beginning of the months when the quarterly business review[QBR] is not being held.  This is a team call with the sales manager and his/her sales team, plus sales support and marketing.  While it may not be feasible to invite marketing to all the one on one’s and sales forecast calls, they should attend the monthly sales meetings and the QBRs.  This will help align marketing and sales. ...

sales management, Sales Process, best practices, sales best practices

December 14, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Forecast Call

This blog focuses on the second part of the Sales Management Process, the sales forecast calls.  The last three blogs focused on Sales Coaching and One-on-Ones, the first part of four parts that make up the Sales Management Process.     A Word of Caution Both One-on-Ones and Forecast Calls are weekly meetings, but don’t make your One-on-Ones the forecast call.  One-on-One time is for the sales rep.  This is the sales rep’s  sales development time.  It is your time to help them become  A-players.  The Sales Forecast Call is all  ...

Sales Calls, Sales Forecasts, sales best practices, Sales Forecast Call

November 21, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep Coaching-Performance Reviews

This is a continuation of the previous two blogs on sales rep coaching.  This blog focuses on reviewing the sales rep’s overall performance during a one-on-one.  In a series of weekly one-on-one meetings this topic typically comes up once every four weeks.   ...

sales management, AI for Sales, best practices, sales best practices, Sales coaching, Sales One-On-Ones

October 30, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Weekly Pipeline/Opportunity Review

This is a continuation of the previous blog on sales rep coaching.  The prior blog reviewed how sales rep coaching fits within the sales management process and outlined best practices related to “call coaching”, one aspect of sales rep coaching.  This blog focuses another aspect of sales rep coaching --  sales pipeline reviews and detail opportunity reviews.  The next blog will focus on the third aspect of sales rep coaching, sales rep performance one-on-ones.   ...

sales management, Sales Process, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales, automated sales rep coaching, sales best practices, Sales coaching

October 16, 2020

Best Practices for B2B Sales - Sales Rep Coaching and One-on-Ones

Sales rep coaching and sales manager/sales rep one-on-ones are the catalyst for sales optimization and sales growth. They are also the tool for increasing the sales rep proficiency and converting C and B quality sales reps to B and A players.  Some supporting research from CSO Insights reveals a correlation between quota attainment and coaching.  The study found the better the sales manager coaching the higher quota attainment.   ...

Sales Executives, Sales Tools, AI for Sales, sales best practices, Sales coaching, Sales One-On-Ones