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Four Steps BI Tools Neglect

Authored by Jim Eberlin on December 16, 2016

Business Intelligence software for sales reporting is missing the mark.  It makes it easier to build a report with elegant looking graphs - but the substance of the reports doesn’t provide real information.  Most often, sales analytics produced from BI tools is just a roll up of numbers called out in a forecast call.  So the sales leader and the sales rep have a lot of work to do to make these reports provide any value.

The work sales teams go through to get anything out of these reports is the same thing we’ve been doing since the 1990’s with sales force automation - we have a meeting, we talk about deals, then we translate these conversations into the CRM for reporting.


What’s wrong with sales analytics from traditional BI tools?

It’s certainly old and well tried - but hardly true.  Very little of the information discussed in the sales meeting makes it into the CRM, and the data that does, is difficult to analyze.  Most of the time,  a separate spreadsheet is used for the forecast, because it’s easier to record the weekly recital of accounts called out that will likely close for the period.  Sales reporting and Business Intelligence tools for CRMs can report numbers but there’s heavy reliance on manual manipulation of numbers by all of the sales team.  Without a consistent and easily understood process, this manipulation is very subjective, qualitative and requires a lot of scrutiny and discussion to get on the same page about which deals are most probable to close, current status and what will be the outcome of the sales period.

Four steps to better sales analytics

We’ve researched and interviewed sales leaders, mostly around how they predict revenue, how they stay on top of hitting their number and how they measure performance of their sales teams.  These are important factors to maximizing revenue production of the team.

1. Implement a well defined sales process

It all starts with a well defined sales process.  Management and sales reps need to understand all the stages and milestones of a winning process.  By having the sales reps follow the same steps, it becomes measurable across the team.  You can coach based on where deals get stuck or lost and compare the performance of team members.  Without a well defined and easily understood process and status nomenclature that everyone follows, it’s too hard to measure conversions and closure rates and therefore sales analytics are of no use.  (click here for how to define a winning sales process)

2. Assist the Reps

Now that the sales process is in place, reps can focus on the next steps.  Knowing the next step and focusing in on that exact activity will help them make progress and make it faster.  Automated enforcement of the sales activities provides for a consistent process that everyone understands and can follow.

Sales reps need to update status after sales meetings and other communications with their prospects and customers.  Updates to the CRM will help keep the opportunities in the appropriate stage and provide for good coaching based on how deals flow through the sales funnel.  Reps need to have as much time as possible to sell so these updates need to be automated and easily recorded.

3. Commit Deals to Forecast

With reps following a consistent sales process and updating the CRM - deals can be committed to the forecast on a quantifiable basis.  Deals that have the right customer profile, progress to the appropriate stage and have the right momentum can be brought to the surface for further inspection.  With quantitative and qualitative rules - only the highest probability deals will advance in the forecast and sales reps will only be focused on winnable deals.

4. Analyze the Right Metrics (and Coach Your Team)

With the right process and more frequent updates to the CRM, you can coach reps with empirical data.  Coaching should be based on how sales reps move deals through each stage, how well they execute on the activity within a stage and on closure rates.  It will be a better conversation than just general academic discussions or the emotional discussion around the subjective status update of deals.

By implementing these 4 steps, sales analytics will be real, authentic, accurate and up to date.  Sales will be predictable and win rates will increase.  Process rigor and adherence as well as automated collection of CRM data make all the difference when it comes to better sales analytics and moving beyond the same methods we used in the 90’s.

To learn more how TopOPPS Predictive and Prescriptive sales analytics helps with sales process and assisting the sales reps, as well as predicting the forecast and applying valuable analytics, click here.

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