Having effective analytics enables businesses to understand far better than ever before the data they’re collecting, and to do so in greater volumes and more forms. These new capabilities are especially relevant to sales organizations. When applied to sales data, analytics can help sales teams achieve quotas and forecast more consistently, as well as understand the impacts of incentives and maximize the potential of territories, all of which help improve sales performance. These benefits provide the foundation for a business case to adopt analytics tools that generate information to guide actions and decision-making for sales organizations.
However, utilizing sales analytics requires a set of data skills that most organizations still find challenging and are thus not fully prepared to support. The efficient access and preparation of data underlies any analytics processes. Over the last five years I have seen evolution in this area, but not much innovation. In most cases the information that analytics provides is too complicated and not contextualized enough for salespeople who are not analytics experts to understand, let alone act on.
To better understand these challenges we have launched our Sales Analytics Dynamic Insights research. The research will explore organizations’ experiences with sales analytics initiatives and their attempts to align IT projects, resources and spending with new business objectives. Using concise web-based surveys, the Ventana Research Dynamic Insights platform gathers real-world data while immediately providing research participants with a personalized assessment of their organization’s efforts as well as research- and experience-based advice on potential next steps to improve. Each participant who completes the survey is provided immediate insights to support decisions ranging from prioritizing application and technology investments to what best practices are most relevant to the organization’s efforts.
Too often organizations depend on reports from their sales force automation and CRM tools, all of which focus on the past, and do not look to the future. Or they choose to rely on charts that do not explain the information they contain or provide suggestions for improving results. Analytics has great potential to provide insights on sales processes, yet many sales organizations and operations teams are missing out on the improvements that analytics can deliver. We have conducted benchmark research on the next generation of sales analytics to investigate the state of this business technology and identify best practices that organizations can use to improve; we have designed this new research to support and extend those efforts.
According to that benchmark research, three in five (58%) organizations say sales analytics is very important to the success of their sales efforts. They most often apply analytics to improve predictability in the sales pipeline, increase the accuracy of the sales forecast and assess sales deals to maximize win potential and minimize missed opportunities. Organizations most often measure overall sales performance by assessing customer revenue (57%), revenue attainment (54%) and quota attainment (51%). Fewer companies measure forecast accuracy (36%) or customer satisfaction (31%), though these also are essential to sales performance.
It is clear that organizations take sales analytics seriously, but the research also shows that most do not execute it especially well. More than half (55%) of participants said they are not satisfied with the current process their sales organization uses to calculate analytics; only 30 percent reported that they are satisfied.
With so many technological advances to assess, selecting the right tools for analytics can be difficult. Moreover, people charged with that responsibility often don’t understand the best uses of sales analytics or the scope of various user requirements. In addition, for sales analytics to be impactful requires that analysis address not only the pipeline, quotas and territories but also the performance of people in the sales organization and ways to help them be more successful.
Utilizing analytics makes it possible for a team to sell to its potential, establishing key sales indicators that span the people and processes of sales organizations. While this may seem obvious, often sales analytics has been relegated to an analytic dashboard and a set of charts that look great but are not actionable until they are translated into prescriptive guidance.
For organizations seeking to support the next generation of sales analytics, we advise assessing the data-related processes and tasks that currently support your efforts. Our Dynamic Insights research is designed to help you examine if the analytics in place are comprehensive enough and if they are applied to an appropriate scope of data. The research also provides advice on methods and tools that can help your organization prepare and wrangle the data to suit the formats and needs of sales analytics. Click here to take the survey and here to learn more about our other research efforts.