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Using Sales Analytics Tools


Sales & Marketing Analytics are key competitive methodologies that can make signficant improvements in the sales pipeline performance and product profitability.

Most sales organizations today use some form of CRM system to manage sales relationships and store sales related data. Appended to the CRM is often a sales performance management toolset, such as salesforce.com. The final toolset helps to make performance visible, through sales analytics and dashboards.

The key steps in using sales analytics tools include:

  1. Defining the core sales process - without a full understanding of the process, and its key decision points [KDPs], the areas of improvement most likley to have the greatest impact on sales performance are often misdirected
  2. Understanding sales data - common definitions for terms and metadata, and primary sources of data
  3. Identifying key performance indicators - those measures that relate directly to performance at KDP's, which in turn are linked directly to strategic sales goals
  4. Creating a sales analytics strategy - outlines how best to leverage customer data to optimize sales related decisions
  5. Best practice visual representation - developing effective dashboards

Sales analytics should not be viewed as a sales reporting tool - but as a sales analysis tool that validates data as a foundation to identifying ways to continuously improve performance.

The process for identifying the right data set for each sales organization is as much art as science. There is no one perfect set of requirements that covers every organization. It is more effective to start by detailing the types of questions the reports are intended to answer. For instance:

Account Executives

The primary question account executives want answered is - Am I on track to make my quota? They want to be able to go to one place to get insight into:

  • Actual revenue booked per relevant period (QTD, YTD, HYTD) compared to my quota
  • Forecast revenue for current relevant period (QTD, YTD, HYTD) compared to my quota
  • Value and volume of pipeline sales
  • Current deals that have forecast revenue commitments for the upcoming months
  • Accuracy of CRM data in term of reporting what is expected to close
  • What If Analysis - e.g. If I lose deal x but win deal y, am I still on track for the results I expect?
  • Percentage and value of total deal revenue in deals that relates to my sales
    • What deals will make or break my quarter?
    • Client / Deal ROI
    • My performance against organizational goals and past results?
      • Win rate relative to last year/my team/the overall organization
      • Lead volume relative to last year/my team/the overall organization?
      • Average deal size?

Sales Managers

Sales managers not only have to manage overall revenue related performance, but also HR performance of their sales teams.

Revenue Performance

  • Forecast revenue this quarter
  • Booked revenue for current period
  • Forecast revenue for current period
  • Hedging Assumptions - understanding what deals will make or break this quarter, and identifying the accuracy of any hedge factors related to key deals
  • Actual revenue against plan - compared to last quarter, last year

Pipeline Performance

  • Pipeline deals closed - compared to targets and previous periods
  • Q on Q team’s pipeline trending
  • Effectiveness of management of strategic accounts
  • Revenue booked compared to forecast - to provide feedback on forecasting accuracy
  • Communications activity - such as talking to key buyers at strategic accounts on a regular basis

Campaign Performance

  • Campaign ROI Trend - based on campaign size and investment
  • Team performance - contribution to organizational goals and past results
  • Win Rate - compared to previous perriods and to current targets
  • Average campaign duration and dollar value - compared to target and previous periods

Productivity of Account Executives

  • Acount activity - which accounts have the most activity, filter based on potential dollar value and strategic value
  • Sales effectiveness - closing rates, sales cycle times

These measures should represent the questions asked every day by sales managers. In turn, the define the data needed to support both sales analytics and sales dashbaords.

Next: Sales Funnel Management & Optimization

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