Today’s guest post is by Mike Moorman, managing principal of sales solutions at global management-consulting firm ZS. ZS is the publisher of The Power of Sales Analytics, written by more than 20 of the firm’s thought leaders who share insights on how companies can use analytics to improve key sales-force effectiveness drivers, such as customer targeting, sales process design, and sales force size and structure.
Companies in the United States alone spend more than $900 billion every year on their sales forces, and executives want to get the most out of this expensive investment; however, leading a sales force to deliver profitable revenue growth in today’s complex business environment is a big challenge.
Not so long ago, sales leaders relied primarily on their own experience and intuition, as well as input from field sales managers and salespeople, when making critical sales force decisions. Today, sales leaders need to do more.
The current perfect storm of big data, new technologies (e.g., Cloud and mobility), and innovation provides opportunities for companies to gain insights about customers and use advanced analytics to improve both strategic and tactical sales force decisions. In turn, this knowledge helps to dramatically increase the effectiveness of the sales force.
When it comes to sales analytics, it’s important to recognize that data and technology alone are not enough. What matters is how analytics can help sales forces improve fundamental business decisions and processes.
For example, companies have leveraged analytics
- to help salespeople understand customer/prospect needs and potential, so they can target the right accounts and more effectively use time;
- to enable sales managers to have more impact as coaches and make more informed decisions about issues such as sales territory design, goal setting, and performance management;
- to allow sales leaders to make better decisions about issues such as sales strategy, sales force size and structure, and the recruiting of sales talent.
To benefit from sales analytics, companies need a diverse set of people, processes, and tools for addressing a wide range of needs. Some are quite strategic, such as formulating sales strategy or designing sales force structure. They require people with evaluation/issue expertise and flexible and creative tools to enable insightful analysis.
Other sales analytics needs are more operational, such as overseeing sales force goal-setting or administering the sales-incentive compensation plan. These require people with a work style that is process and detail oriented and tools for efficiently and reliably delivering information.
It’s a big challenge for companies to cost-effectively develop and continuously improve this diverse range of sales analytics capabilities, especially because the business and technology environment is constantly changing. Many companies build strategic networks that include both internal (company) and external (outsourced) resources to deliver the needed breadth of capabilities.
What’s your game plan to achieve world-class sales analytics capabilities? If you’d like to learn more about how your company can leverage sales analytics to build competitive advantage and increase profitable revenue growth, register now to join me at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, April 27–28, 2015.