Wednesday, 16 September 2015

HOW TO USE DATA TO DRIVE SALES

All organisations, regardless of industry, see sales performance as a priority. This is really a truism owing to the fact that the ability for a business to be successful depends on its ability to sell its products. The process of marketing, which involves the introduction of a product or service to potential customers, forms the core of every business. Poor marketing may lead to drop in sales and when this persists, can lead to business failure.

Attracting customers is not as easy especially when there is tough competition in the market. However, in a highly competitive market, extra efforts are required to increase the demand for products and increase volume of sales.

In order to achieve this, companies are expected to implement strategies beyond quality of products, market positioning or value propositions. According to a survey, it was discovered that companies encounter internal barriers that prevents sales success, such as lack of sales skills by the personnel. More than a quarter of the business executives interviewed by Tectono Business Review said they were very good at executing sales objectives but had limited or poor quality data as a top sales performance barrier.

These are some strategies that companies must develop to overcome barriers to sales:

Sales as a business priority
In spite of the fact that businesses have a range of priorities such as public image, profitability, accountability to shareholders, corporate social responsibility and regulatory pressures among others, sale is still their main support and primary concern. Four out of five companies agreed that managing sales performance was somewhat or much more important than other key objectives within their organisations, making it a near universal priority.

The right skills are important
Sales leaders place emphasis on the human touch, and stress the importance of relationships and communication. 37 per cent of respondents, who believed managing sales performance was much more important than other tasks in their organisation, named relationship-building skills as important for sales employees to have, in comparison to 30 per cent of other firms. Sales leaders also clearly see a role for data because 17 per cent of them named the ability to analyse and understand data as one of the most important skills, as compared with 12 per cent of other firms.

Have access to data and use it
Virtually all the companies who said they were very good at executing on sales objectives have real-time, self-service access to customer or account data. 60 percent of these firms said they access sales reports more than once in a day. Sales leaders also clearly see a role for data – 17 per cent of the former named the ability to analyse and understand data as one of the most important skills, as compared with 12 per cent of other firms.

Customer and account data was seen as the most important form of sales information, cited as such by 30 per cent of companies, and by an even higher proportion of respondents who claimed to be very good at executing on sales objectives (34 per cent). This was followed by lead follow-up, booking and pipeline data.”

Businesses value data accuracy and integration
The companies felt data accuracy (53 per cent) and the ability of the analytics platform to integrate with existing systems (38 per cent) were the most important features of sales data analytics applications. However, a significant proportion of respondents note that these features are the primary limitations of their current systems. Sales leaders don’t just pay lip service to the idea of data—they are committed to harnessing data for strategic integration into their daily routines.

Source of sales analytics
Spreadsheets was cited by sales leaders as the main source of sales reporting and analytics for and used by 59 per cent of respondents overall. However, companies expressing confidence in executing on sales objectives are substantially more likely to use data visualisation and sales force automation tools.

Japan’s NEC has invested heavily in a ‘Global Pipeline Management’ project that uses customer relationship management software to provide a comprehensive and insightful view of sales activities to staff at headquarters and throughout country operations worldwide.

NEC’s Vice-President, Shin Sakamoto, said: “The goal is to realise visualisation and share pipeline information, that is, information on potential opportunities, customers, products, solutions and the progress of sales activities on a global basis.”