A 2013 study by the Aberdeen Group found that one of the key challenges to meeting sales goals was insufficient or inadequate information available. To put that into perspective: the time, skills and resources were readily available, but the information wasn’t appropriate.
Data analytics really comes into its own when applied to the sales process – and the payoff is usually quick and highly tangible. After all, if the data project uncovers new leads, then that will (hopefully) mean more revenue coming through the door.
So how can data analytics be applied to your sales process for better results?
Uncover more prospects
Sometimes we think we have exhausted our prospect list once CRM has been trawled or spreadsheets have been thoroughly reviewed, however many prospects (by their very nature of being a ‘prospect’ and not yet a ‘customer’) exist outside of these reports.
A good idea, in the age of social media, is to look at the followers of your competitors on LinkedIn and Twitter and drill down into the detail to determine if these are useful prospects for you to target also. For even more ideas of prospects, have a look at who your competitors are choosing to follow, and reconcile this against your own followers to find the ones who are not on your list, but are on your competitors’ lists. FollowerWonk allows you to compare followers for up to three companies, and separate users who are on one list, but not another.
Additionally, look inside your own organisation’s contacts; who within your organisation is connected to your target prospect on LinkedIn and can they facilitate an introduction? Some BI tools can help with automating this process.
Find out how your marketing campaigns are linking up with your sales opportunities.
Are you able to quickly see which marketing campaigns have been successful within your accounts? And if so, which messages resonated the most with which contacts across your customer base? This information helps you when going back into customers with new messaging or products and ensures you are targeting the correct people with the most appropriate solution.
Often, analytics exists at the CRM level to show data about existing customer activity, but extracting the information out of CRM and combining it with non-CRM data such as info coming in from other marketing tools (for instance, Mailchimp, email tracking software, event invites) – gives you a broader view of the prospect to paying customer journey.
On the content side, are you able to pinpoint how often your prospect and clients are interacting with your company’s content and marketing collateral online, or is this unknown?
Identify your key statistics
Sales is a numbers game, in terms of revenue but also statistics. Understanding your key statistics helps you to understand which areas of your sales process are particularly strong and which areas require further improvement.
Here are a few basic sales process ratios/statistics that are key to understanding:
- Pipeline to closed deal ratio
- Pipeline to qualified deal ratio
- Win/Loss analysis
- Lead conversion ratio
Some CRM reports can show this information, however you may need to integrate a range of marketing tools to really understand the wider prospect to client conversion picture.
Understand where you spend your time
HBR found that 61% of sales reps thought that greater sales intelligence would deliver better lead quality and quantity – therefore resulting in more time spent actively selling.
Sales people tend to think that they spend a lot of time selling, when in fact they may be spending as little as one day a week interacting with customers and the rest of the time chasing quotes, researching new products or developing new leads. Using data to track how you are spending your time can help you to recognise where you could be cutting down on inefficient admin processes and could instead be working directly with customers on revenue generating opportunities.
Find out where your customers are coming from
Every sales person should be finding out where each lead came from in order to check for trends that can be capitalised on. For instance, if your last 3 most profitable leads all came from one event, then you know to focus your efforts on attending again next year. Or perhaps you recently won business from two customers who both work with one of your mutual technology partners, then it might be worth scheduling a joint account planning session soon.
In larger companies, there is often a multitude of marketing activities occurring which sales people are never privy to. Having a good understanding at any one time about which customer contacts attended an event, received a telemarketing phone call or interacted with your company on social media, means you are better placed to take the next step with your client.
Keep up to date with information about your customers
Sales reps often find that a huge amount of their time is dedicated to researching customer information and news developments about their target industries. This is costly in terms of time for the sales rep, and costly in monetary terms for the vendors – as precious face to face selling time is overshadowed by research activities.
Analytics tools can help to deliver the right information to the sales reps as and when they need it; whether that is news content, previous spend history or social media activity feeds. Sometimes these tools can deliver timely info directly to your inbox to enable better conversations with your prospects.
Having access to better data about your customer when engaging means that you can personalise your marketing and sales content to meet your particular customer’s needs or situation. Companies that personalise customer information down to sales rep level (i.e. creating specific marketing and sales content at a sales rep level) have been known to achieve a 36% increase in lead conversions. Being able to adapt the data to different customer profiles, and also customer contact profiles (roles, seniority, interests, motivators) will ensure that you have a more targeted and focused approach to your prospecting.
Without automated analytics, this task would be cumbersome and time-heavy. With an analytics tool, you can create reports and automate activities (such as sending news feeds straight to your email), that will allow you to build customised reports for sales reps that can be read in a matter of minutes rather than spending hours each week keeping up to date on customer news.
Understand your engagement cycle
The mere act of implementing an analytics tool starts to drive behaviour; resulting in your different teams considering how data and trends can be extracted from each activity. Recording how you are interacting with customers at each stage of the buyer journey, from lead generation and prospecting to qualifying and negotiating.
Analytics helps to track progress and success criteria at each buyer journey stage, for instance, how many customers dropped out of your pipeline at stage X compared to stage Y?
Once data is available to track and analyse, you can then start to incorporate gamification into your sales processes to drive more competition between sales reps to achieve. For example, many companies now use team dashboards and leadership boards to chart each sales rep’s performance, mapped against the other team members’ achievements.
Furthermore, once facts and figures have been collated, the information can then be used to create benchmarks across the organisation. Without having access to the data, you wouldn’t be able to spot trends between different sales rep activity, such as how many meetings per week resulted in the most number of sales that month. Being able to record and track this kind of data allows you to create company benchmarks, and then also compare these figures to industry averages to chart your performance.
The first step is collecting data across all points possible. Before collecting data, it is often impossible to be able to imagine the range of insights you are able to collect. You may start out with a good idea of what data points you would like to understand (i.e. win/loss ratios) however it is only when you see what data is available to you that you are able to delve further to drive real insight. For instance, we recently did some analysis on social media behaviour across legal firms and uncovered that the firms with the highest number of followers posted the most tweets per day. When we set out to do the research, we were only looking at variables such as how many followers each firm had compared to how many people they followed and their retweet frequency. We hadn’t originally thought to analyse the post frequency until the data was in front of us and we were then able to uncover new insights and compare it against other data points in our research.
If you are interested in knowing more about how analytics could be utilised for sales and business development in the legal sector then read our posts on “10 Ways for Law Firms to Use Big Data” and “Using Analytics to Win Against New Competition”.