A recent Bain & Company survey of executives at hundreds of companies around the world revealed that “only 4% of companies are really good at analytics, an elite group that puts into play the right people, tools, data and intentional focus.”
To the analytically driven crowd – like us! – that 4% statistic is a shockingly low figure. As an organization that has seen first-hand the power of analytics and the positive impact that data analysis can bring to any company, it is stunning to us that so many still refuse to buy in. While the survey primarily focused on large enterprises, the message remains clear: analytics is just barely scratching the surface in terms of mainstream adoption, and this failure to embrace the power of analytics is separating average companies and sales teams from the true winners. There is no excuse for small- and medium-sized businesses NOT to adopt sales analytics.
The survey noted that leaders built up their analytics capabilities by investing in four things: data, tools, people and intent. Let’s look at what you have to do in these four key areas to make sales analytics a part of your business and take you into the stratosphere of winners.
For starters, companies must demonstrate a willingness and concerted effort to embed analytics into their organizations. They must actively strive to be more data-driven in their decisions and operations. Instead of merely accepting things at face value – for instance, when a sales rep is optimistic about an opportunity closing with no real evidence to back up their ‘happy ears’ – these organizations need to demand a more stringent level of analytical accountability. Additionally, companies need to make sure they are clear in what they want to do with increased data analysis. Do they want to streamline their sales process and be more efficient? Do they want to better track marketing campaigns? Outlining your pain points – and how sales analytics can solve them – is a great start toward becoming a data-driven business.
Naturally, analytics cannot occur unless there is data to analyze in the first place. This puts a tremendous onus on a sales organization to ensure that their data is clean, consistent and lives up to rigorous standards. Companies are increasingly turning to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software such as Salesforce.com to handle their data aggregation, analysis and reporting. Such a tool – especially when adding an out-of-the-box analysis and reporting tool like InsightSquared! – can be a tremendous asset…but only if the reps responsible for entering data are trained correctly as well.
Part of having clean data to analyze is to make sure your reps are motivated to enter information into your CRM that’s critical to running your business by the numbers. Get specific with the exact fields and format of information you want entered. Show your reps how and where that data is being used. Most importantly, make that data useful for them. When they see that tracking and analyzing their pipeline history or sales funnel conversion rates can lead to more effective performances, they’ll be more apt to buy in.
Following on the heels of the previous point, getting buy-in from your employees in recording, analyzing and using data is half the battle in becoming an analytical organization. A company that is steeped from top to bottom in a data-driven mindset will get more out of analytics than one that is merely going through the motions.
A common complaint from businesses who have yet to hop on the sales analytics bandwagon is that they don’t have the resources to train a full-fledged data scientist or analyst to handle their data reporting and analysis. Those companies just need to find the right easy-to-use, out-of-the-box tools that don’t require complicated training. When those skeptics realize how easy analytics can be with the right tools, they will quickly come around.
Data aggregation and analysis tools don’t have to be complicated beasts or expensive, legacy business intelligence platforms. In fact, the best sales analytics tools should be easy to use for any and all employees, even those outside the sales organization. They should not require having an expensive paid consultant on staff, or hours upon hours of intense training for your employees. They should also not skimp on quality or capabilities, allowing you to drill down and analyze and report on your sales operations as deeply as any expensive platform.
Sales analytics differentiates winning sales organizations from average or losing ones. Analytics doesn’t have to be an overwhelming endeavor that is too difficult to broach. Start with the right organizational intent, get your data in order, tell your people what to expect and find the right powerful tool – like InsightSquared – to really kick your analytics into gear and become a winner.