Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

Supercharge Sales Analytics with Digital Technologies

Posted by Mark Smith on May 12, 2017 8:44:14 AM

Our firm regularly explores the impacts of new technologies on business. Analytics is foremost among recently emerging technologies, which our benchmark research consistently confirms. In our research on next-generation sales analytics, fourth-fifths (82%) of participating organizations cited analytics as the most important technology trend for sales; however, several other technologies also are adding power and flexibility to the use of sales analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, cloud computing, Analytics, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Collaboration for Business, Sales Planning and Analytics, Mobile Technology Operations & Supply Chain

Prepare and Wrangle Data for Sales Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 5, 2017 8:28:39 AM

The importance of analytics for sales organizations is clear and, as I pointed out in my recent analyst perspective on the next generation of sales analytics, these capabilities optimize revenue potential. 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, which must meet demanding needs that are not always automated. Our research into next generation sales analytics has found many impediments that must be addressed and is a critical part of our expertise agenda for sales organizations.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, digital technology, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Collaboration for Business, Sales Planning and Analytics

New Generation of Sales Analytics Can Optimize Revenue Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 27, 2017 11:22:59 AM

I have been following advances in sales analytics since the 1990s. Over the last five years, however, I have seen evolution, not innovation. In most cases the information that analytics provides is too complicated and not contextualized enough for sales people who are not analytics experts to understand, let alone take action on. As I pointed out in my 2017 research agenda on sales, analytics is essential for planning that improves the impacts of sales efforts and meets the goals of the organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, cloud computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, analytics, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Collaboration for Business, Sales Planning and Analytics

Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2017 9:22:10 AM

I am happy to provide my personal perspective on the potential of sales organizations, processes and technology to supercharge business activity in 2017. The sales processes of organizations – whether they involve digital commerce or direct or indirect physical selling – should be part of continuous optimization efforts to reach maximum results. To do this, the people leading and running sales processes must be able to use technology that supports their responsibilities and analyzes the crucial information coming into the business. For almost 15 years, we have advocated for sales applications and tools that are necessary to optimize sales effectiveness and improve the outcomes of their sales efforts. The available portfolio is much larger than sales force automation (SFA) and involves more than the continued use of CRM, which has clear limits in its ability to manage customer relationships. The applications on offer include many facets of sales:  coaching, compensation management, contract management, configure price quote (CPQ), forecasting, quota and territory management, planning and optimization, pricing and revenue optimization, and target or market intelligence. New applications designed for sales also enable digital effectiveness that can transform organizations. Let me provide my perspective on six topics that are shaping the way sales can and should operate in 2017, and which are part of our sales research agenda for the year.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Mobile Technology, cloud computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, analytics, digital technology, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Collaboration for Business

A New Generation of Analytics Offers Help for Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:31:32 PM

All lines of business are under pressure to meet targets and deliver expected results, but none is under more pressure than Sales. Like other organizations it must use information to derive insights about progress and problems and to decide what changes to make. Today businesses collect and analyze data from more data sources in more forms than ever before. To understand it they need effective analytics, and again none need it more than Sales.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), sales analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA

The Challenge for Sales in 2014: Stepping Beyond Conventional Wisdom

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2014 8:46:26 AM

It should be no surprise for those who work in sales that increasing outcomes collectively is not always easy. Sales teams and individuals work under pressure to perform at high levels, selling more than they did in the previous period or more than the person who previously had responsibility for a territory. Today’s economic and competitive environments demand that everyone work not just faster but smarter in their sales efforts. To excel in this environment requires not just wise use of time but prioritization of the activities and tasks that contribute to achieving the quota and forecast. In the past, sales organizations often resisted adopting new technology, but it’s time for them to realize that tools are available to facilitate better sales performance. As I outlined in the overview of our business and technology research agenda for this year, the sales department has a ripe opportunity to get smarter in how it operates. This is the essential point of our research practice in sales applications and technology: Our methodical benchmark research examines applications and technology best practices and benefits for sales organizations, and we assess the vendors and products in this market through our Value Index ratings. We will start 2014 with the latest release of our Value Index on Sales Performance Management, which will help sales management evaluate products to assist in improving performance of the organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Social Media, forecasting, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), Compensation, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA

Xactly Makes Objectives the Incentive for Improvement

Posted by Mark Smith on May 25, 2013 11:40:56 PM

Sales organizations and individuals strive to reach their quotas and get paid the maximum commissions for their performance. In support of these goals, software vendor Xactly offers a suite of applications for sales performance management that operates in the cloud computing environment. An example of its success is receiving our recent 2013 Leadership Award in sales excellence for work by its customer Zuora. This achievement builds on its 2012 Leadership Award with customer GlobalEnglishMy last analysis of Xactly discussed its applications running on mobile technology including the Apple iPad, which answers the needs of sales people who prefer to use mobile technology. Xactly signed its 500th customer in late 2012, a milestone demonstrating its adoption by companies looking to improve sales.

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Topics: Sales, objectives, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Performance Management (BPM), Compensation, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), incentives, Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM)

Sales Performance Management Is Red-Hot with Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 19, 2012 1:07:21 PM

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in sales performance management found many areas for improvement among sales applications in a field where many sales organizations still use outdated or insufficient applications to manage revenue generation and customer relationships.

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales, Salesforce.com, SAP, NICE, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CallidusCloud, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Synygy, Varicent, Xactly

Xactly Helps Sales Go Mobile and Get Smarter with Incent 8

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2012 9:57:52 AM

Businesses aim to make their sales function as productive as possible, but they don’t always support that goal with investment in technology. I recently wrote about sales needing a swift technology kick. Sales application vendor Xactly provides a boot with the release of Xactly Incent 8 and will make parts of the application suite available from the Apple App Store for the iPad in the coming weeks.

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Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Operations, Uncategorized, Compensation, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA, territory managmeent

The Business of Sales Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 6, 2012 10:28:00 PM

Investing wisely in sales-related people and processes is a key to business success. In 2012, helping sales staff perform at their highest levels should be a top priority for management. That may take some effort, according to our benchmark research, which indicates that only 14 percent of sales organizations operate at the highest level of innovation and competitiveness. In recent years, most organizations merely discussed moving beyond using only their sales force automation application and Microsoft Office for improving sales efficiency. Now sales organizations can move beyond systems that were designed decades ago, thanks to the availability of a broad range of applications to support sales activities and processes. In fact dozens of new types of sales applications are available to help sales focus on selling, which creates another issue. Where should sales organizations focus their limited resources and budgets?

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Topics: Planning, Sales, Social Media, assets, forecasting, leads, Learning, Mobile Business, objectives, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Performance, pipeline, Reporting, rewards, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, sales force automation and territory, social enterprise, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), channel, coaching, commission, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), incentives, pricing, promotion, proposal, quota, quoting, Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA, Workforce Performance Management (WPM)