September 12th, 2018 | by

Welcome to another Whiteboard Wednesday, hosted by Steve Waters, DiscoverOrg’s Director of Sales.

I want to talk about how to improve morale on the team over time by enabling them with great data and helping sales leaders invest in their team’s success. Welcome to Whiteboard Wednesday!

Morale is the best indicator of retention on a sales team.

And retention is a serious issue. In 2008, according to Hubspot, almost half the sales department stayed on the job at least 3 years. Today, just 8% of salespeople stick around that long; the average tenure is down to 1.5 years. Considering ramp-up time is 3+ months for new SDRs … well, let’s just say if it seems like you’re spending a LOT of time training newbies these days, you’re not imagining it.

Watch the video here or on YouTube, or read on.

Since sales is a team, let’s use sports as the analogy: Morale is really just a reflection of whether your team is winning or losing.

If you want to check the morale of a team, walk out on the sales floor: If it’s really buzzing, you probably hit your most recent goal.

But the opposite is true as well.

If you go out on the sales floor and it’s silent … people aren’t excited, and they probably missed their goal. Their morale is in the toilet, and they’re probably going to miss their goal again.

To maintain morale, sales teams need to WIN

At the end of the day, the only real question is: Is this team winning or is this teaming losing?

Sticking with the sports analogy, suppose you have a highly contested game. Maybe you get a couple overtimes. It’s a championship. But only one team can win, while all other teams lose.

Which locker room would you rather walk into? The losing team, they’ve got their heads down, they’re frustrated. The winning team is popping champagne, and they’re all excited.

There is no second place in sales.

Morale is the number one thing that you can do to keep happy salespeople sticking around. Think about turnover on sales teams: They’re always trading players, trying to fix what’s wrong… But the best teams keep the same core players and continuing to win, and win, and win.

I mean, remember the Bulls in the ’90s?

Bad data: a silent killer of sales morale

A silent killer on the sales floor is going to be bad data. Having bad data is an incredibly frustrating process.

To paraphrase Trish Bertuzzi, “Data’s not sexy, but it’s the number one lever that you can pull to enable your sales team to be successful.”


Why is reliable data important? Because one lucky star player isn’t enough to win a game. The whole team will lose.

December 29, 2006: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are playing the Charlotte Bobcats. He scores 58 points in the game – but still they lose in the triple overtime. I guarantee if you go into the locker rooms after that game, it was a bitter, bitter defeat. You need to boost all salespeople, and do it at scale, or you’ll never win consistently.

Deep, accurate data democratizes the success on your team: When everyone has access to the same quality source, they can all hone their game.

I’m going to walk you through what life is like without great data – and then I’ll show you how we can improve that process and help your team win on a more consistent basis.

A day in the life

how to boost retention in sales good dataSo your sales leadership team says, “I’m going to spend a little bit of money on a list.” And you get your generic list from a typical data provider: Most “leads” won’t have been there for years. There are no direct-dial phone numbers. No email addresses. Multiple listings for franchise locations. Tiny mom-and-pop shops that would never buy your enterprise products and services. It’s not the right people – it’s not the right targets.

There’s no faster way to demoralize a team than give them reams of bad data … so they have to ignore it and spend all day on LinkedIn.

Let’s look at an average day for the sales team.

The hunt begins: Find the right people (and reach them)

They come in on Monday morning. They check the CRM. They’re going to look around and ask, “Do I have the right leads?”

If you have bad data, they don’t.

Most salespeople have to turn to LinkedIn at some point during the day. But 25% of the executives you’re after won’t have LinkedIn – and no direct contact information.

So you head over to Google, to find context around what’s happening at that company. Did this company just get funding? Has there been a leadership change? (Because where there’s change, there’s opportunity!)

Maybe you get your list, you go to LinkedIn, you go to Google, and finally, you find a lead.

Great! But you’ll have to call through the switchboard, so you’ll get a gatekeeper whose job is to make sure that you’re not going to waste that decision-maker’s time.

So you call 1-800 numbers, you call through company directories, you get gatekeepers and switchboards.

Guessing email addresses

sales retention good data

But the very worst thing you can do is guess at an email address.

Even if you knew the naming convention of an email, like FirstName.LastName, or FirstInitial.LastName, statistically you’re still only going to be right 68% of the time (trust us – we’ve done the math). There are nicknames, middle initials, there are numbers after the name. Maybe the founder only uses their first name.

You can see how hard it would be for a sales rep to maintain enthusiasm if they’re spending their day running up against roadblocks like these: You don’t get to have enough conversations to build your pipeline and hit your numbers.

Believe it or not, that’s how sales reps spend 66% of their day: Doing research, trying to find the right people, manually entering data In a CRM garden overrun with weeds.

And tomorrow? You get to do it all again.

Better data = improved sales retention

sales retention good data

But tomorrow is a new day, and a new game.

When you have sales intelligence you can trust, your team can spend their time selling – and they’ll feel great about what they’re doing all day. Great data is a big morale boost to the team because they can move the needle and hit their numbers.

I think if you’re asking for more from your sales team, you also have to give them the tools to achieve it without killing themselves.

The impact of good data on morale

Now what if you walk in Tuesday morning and say, “Hey, I bought the best data in the world to invest in your success! You’re not going to have to suffer through that process anymore.”

What’s that going to do for the team’s morale?


They’re going to be much more successful – but it’s also going to bring out the smiles and create a sense of hope and accomplishment. Success begets success. Winning breeds more winning. With any championship team, the more they win, the more they continue to win.

When they win more, morale is better, and your sales reps make more money. They’re harder to poach – and they’re not going to want to leave.

In conclusion, invest in your team’s success by purchasing something that’s not the sexiest thing in the world in high-quality data, and bad data a silent morale killer across your team. Thank you for your time today. Thanks for watching another Whiteboard Wednesday.

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Happy hunting out there!

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About the author

Steve Waters

Steve joined DiscoverOrg in 2015 and currently serves as an Account Executive. He has 10+ years in sales and an MBA from Northwest Nazarene University. When he’s not rocking at DiscoverOrg, Steve drums in several bands in the Portland area.