Sales analytics is a growing area of focus in many organizations.  Between finding the right people, developing processes, and investing in technologies, companies today are recognizing the value introduced through the launch of an effective sales analytics strategy.  In this day and age, many companies have more technology systems than they can count, and they frequently drown in data.  Instead of drowning in data, organizations need to do everything in their power to recognize the power and the potential of mass amounts of data.  From data comes information.  And from information comes insights.  And these insights are what separates wildly successful companies from slightly successful companies from ordinary companies.

Sales analytics requires companies to unlock key insights into their business through a thorough examination of data while enabling leaders to better understand performance, optimally pursue opportunities, and swiftly accelerate pipeline with up-to-the-minute intelligence.  It instills accountability and visibility while yielding actionable data that can separate success from failure.  In today’s increasingly competitive environment, leading companies operate with a proactive culture focused on maximizing opportunities, sales, and profits.

Sales analytics strives to enable selling efforts while optimizing sales performance.  Goals of an effective program include:

  1. Accelerate the growth of business: By focusing on optimizing volume and velocity, a sales organization can help a company grow more quickly.  Are you happy selling 14 deals per month for $400k?  Why not shoot for 20 deals and $600k?  Between increasing average deal amounts and increasing the speed at which sales are made, companies can aim to accelerate the growth of their business.
  2. Shorten sales cycles: Providing visibility to average sales cycles per sales rep, product, and/or customer can yield valuable insights.  Is your average cycle of 20 days good?  Is it bad?  And what can be done to shorten the cycle?  Whether it be working with legal to streamline their review process, ensuring that sales operations compile contract more quickly, or requesting finance to provide pricing on a more timely basis, all opportunities to shorten the sales cycle need to be considered.
  3. Increase the productivity of reps: Are your reps equipped with enough selling opportunities?  Perhaps the purchase of various marketing lists can lead to more selling opportunities?  Adding additional products to a salesperson’s bag of products can certainly lead to increased sales.  Also, more optimally defining selling territories can lead to more productive sales reps.
  4. Identify business risks and gaps: Possessing a strategic focus in addition to a tactical focus can yield significant dividends.  Regularly assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats inherent in a market can help iron sharpen iron.  Anticipating struggles and preparing for peaks can help a selling organization survive the lows and stick their chest out during wins.  Whether sales levels are good or bad, continuously monitoring risks and gaps can help ensure future success.
  5. Improve forecast accuracy: While falling short of a sales forecast is judged as inferior performance and dramatically exceeding forecast is deemed as a smashing success, some people think both are just as bad.  If you exceeded forecast by a sizable figure, why wasn’t the forecast higher?  Downstream effects of a forecast must be considered.  Finance projections are based on anticipated sales levels, and nobody likes when financial models vary too strongly from actuals.  And hiring decisions are typically dependent on sales forecasts.  Significant forecast variance, one way or the other, can impact the business very negatively.
  6. Increase visibility to reps needed help: Sales managers do the best they possibly can to ensure success for their companies, themselves, and the sales reps they manage.  A poor performance by a rep can result in that rep’s termination, a sales manager taking heat from his/her boss, or a client leaving.  A sales manager with effective visibility into his/her sales team is positioned much better than a manager with limited visibility.  And a manager recognizing coaching opportunities can have an incredibly positive influence on the performance of his/her business.

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Scott Miller

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