Why advanced sales analytics brings better results

2014-0924 - Sales and BI analytics

Why advanced sales analytics brings better results

All successful sales teams use some form of analytics to track performance. CRM systems like Salesforce and marketing automation platforms like Marketo bring efficiency and limited insight. While these services help companies track campaigns and customer relationships, they don’t paint the full picture. Here’s an overview of how modern business intelligence analytics helps to optimize sales and maximize success.

The cycle of business intelligence involves four stages: gathering, structuring, analyzing, and finally, deciding. While BI brings deep insight into business, it does not make the decisions. It’s up to the leaders of the company to use data to guide the decisions they make. A BI tool, by essentially automating the first two stages of the BI process (gathering and structuring), brings business leaders to the last two stages (analyzing and decision-making) very quickly. This is why companies who know how to leverage analytics outperform others.

If your business isn’t using BI tools yet, then you may be familiar with some of the common issues that sales faces when using existing systems to capture data. How many times have you logged into Salesforce only to find old or incomplete information? A recent report by Aberdeen Group surveyed people in sales roles and found that 43% said there’s insufficient data on current pipeline deals entered by reps. 25% reported that the CRM software they use has insufficient analytical capabilities.

Not having quality data—or not having the tools to analyze it effectively—can be a detriment to producing an accurate sales forecast. It’s challenging to lead a sales team (or a company) in the right direction if one can’t predict short-term and long-term performance. Where companies’ current data systems drop the ball, BI picks it up and shows possible paths to a winning strategy.

Other companies can often be a good benchmark of where to focus efforts. The Aberdeen Group report (referenced above) shows that 56% of the top-performing firms provide self-service analytics to employees. These companies give their sales teams tools to find new prospects, drive deals, cross-sell, and even upsell. When Sales has accurate data, they ultimately sell faster and better.

It’s also important to consider how each department supports each other and drives business. Those shown to be successful leaders (classified by revenue, average sales cycle, and quotas) are more likely to have an open exchange of operational data across business functions. When everyone works together and data insights are shared, every part of the business improves. Marketing can funnel better leads to sales, sales can close more deals, customer service knows if they’ll need reinforcements, and so on.

The Aberdeen Group Report also shows that leading sales reps engage with BI on a weekly or more frequent basis. They notice trends and changes. They measure the effects of deal abandonment and discounts. They can find out the source of a lead and figure out the best approach. Engaging with BI in this manner gives them an edge; these are the people who lead sales and increase revenue for the company.

Those managing sales teams can use BI tools to track and measure the performance of sales representatives. Having this type of information allows managers to better support teams in specific ways. For example one knows who needs more coaching in which areas, or one understands why certain tactics work better than others. All of this leads to building and managing a bigger, and more accurate sales pipeline.

To maximize success, BI analytics should be part of the overall business culture. Just remember that analytics shouldn’t live in a silo.