Regardless of your industry, the sales process consists of a set of repeatable steps to move from prospect to close. Analytics plays an important role in this process by giving businesses valuable intelligence into their markets, prospects, customers, and competitors. In the past, business intelligence (BI) software was used predominantly by finance, IT and operations. However, this is no longer the case and other parts of the organization are increasingly relying on solutions with data analytics.
TDWI research indicates that sales teams are seeing the measurable impact and value modern analytics can provide, and how it can help to drive better decisions, and to increase revenue and competitive advantage. (Read the TDWI Report)
Here are just a few ways modern analytics helps organizations improve the sales process
1. Harness Data from External Systems in the Analysis
To identify opportunities and gain deeper insights into their markets, prospects, customers, and competitors, sales leaders need to consume and visualize large amounts of data. Data analytics that incorporates information from external systems, as well as backend end systems, can give sales teams valuable insight into where they stand relative to competitors, the probability for winning a deal, the cost per deal and more. This type of analysis helps them choose the best opportunities to pursue, and guides them in how to rank and balance their portfolio of opportunities. Modern solution providers that provide analytics on top of CRM systems enable sales teams to harness data from external systems into their analysis.
2. Utilize Self-Service Visual Analytics Capabilities
Gone are the days when sales teams rely on back-office staff for the information they need in their day to day activities. Solutions today incorporate self-service capabilities with easy to use interfaces and visual analytics to help teams transform massive amounts of information into actionable intelligence. Instead of writing complex queries, users can simply click and choose data sets and create their own visualizations from a menu of options. Self-service visual analytics increase sales productivity and enable users to spot trends and gain insight from the data to uncover new opportunities and areas for improvement.
3. Incorporate New Technologies for Better Insight
Emerging technologies like predictive analytics (PA) and machine learning (ML) are helping sales move beyond a simple historical, rear-view analysis of the business and move to a more predictive ‘forward-looking’ view. PA helps sales teams predict the probability of future outcomes using past information, while ML enables the systems they are using “to learn” from data and identify patterns with minimal human intervention. Predictive analytics and machine learning are helping sales take a more targeted, analytical approach to building more accurate, data-driven pipelines. These technologies help teams understand why they win or lose and recommend opportunities they should pursue based on their past
Once a prospect converts to a lead, predictive analytics can be used to help them accurately forecast the likelihood of the prospect converting based on the previous activity of customers. It can also help them assess whether the lead has a need for their product or service, at what stage they are in the customer journey, and who they are most likely to buy from. This insight helps sales focus on those leads that are ready and most likely to buy from them.
4. Maximize Customer Lifetime Value
Maximizing the customer’s lifetime value (CLV) is a huge focus for most businesses today. CLV calculates the profit that you will make from a customer over their entire relationship with you and takes into account costs, not just revenue. Analytics helps sales teams determine the customers that provide the highest CLV and create profiles to replicate success.
Analytics can also help to expand customer value by determining when a current customer is a cross-sell/upsell opportunity based on previous customer data. Automated alerts can be set up to notify salespeople when a customer reaches a certain lead score or completes a series of actions that indicate they are ready to buy. Alerts can also be set up to protect existing customers from churn, by notifying sales when a customer’s behavior follows a certain pattern.
5. Enable High powered, Targeted Sales Campaigns
Data analytics software solutions can help companies kick their sales and marketing campaigns into high gear by enabling them to collect and integrate large amounts of data and analyze it in real-time for campaign planning and execution. The insight gained from analysis helps teams understand the defining moments and key drivers in the customer journey. It helps them to understand the most common paths in the customer journey so that customers and prospects can be more easily segmented for fine-tuning messaging and offers. Highly targeted campaigns help to uncover the highest impact segments for growing revenue and to identify where improvements can be made to reduce costs and improve sales productivity.
Analytics is advancing at a rapid pace across all industries. To drive higher value from data analytics sales teams are adopting industry-specific solutions and processes that leverage advancements in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics. To learn more, read this report “Using Modern Analytics to Inform the Sales Process” from TDWI Research, a leading analyst providing research and advice for BI professionals worldwide.