Prescriptive Sales Analytics: Translate Data into Action
Every conversation manufacturing and distribution sales representatives have with customers matters. In a way, these sales conversations are also an investment. A typical manufacturer or distributor may spend 10 to 20 percent or more of their revenue on internal or external sales teams. A company’s revenue growth rate is fundamentally a trailing result of the success of their sellers’ past conversations. So, the sales team is both costly and essential to growth.
Who will your sellers talk to today? Why those specific prospects or customers? What will sellers talk about with customers – and why?
Because the conversations sellers have with customers are directly responsible for revenue, the question is, what insights and sales skills can we provide to our sellers to help elevate their performance?
In this article, we will focus on the prospect and customer insights and the prescriptive workflow tools that predictably improve sellers’ share of customer wallet and also improve prospecting effectiveness.
Prescriptive analytics represent an opportunity equivalent to the Gold Rush in sales. Leveraging data should go beyond simply using business intelligence (BI) tools. It’s about translating data-driven insights into specific, actionable recommendations that front-line sales teams can use. These insights inform the important conversations reps have with customers for the better and positively impact their company’s revenue growth.
Why It’s Important to Make Data More Accessible for Your Sellers
Simply put, salespeople are not librarians. No matter how nice spreadsheets can be, or how pretty your dashboards are, they typically require the sales rep to ponder where to go, what to click, how to filter, or when to drill down, to arrive at any useful insights to sell more. Sales reps have to interpret the data to guess where the opportunities may be. Not surprisingly, salespeople generally hate these tools and struggle to adopt them. And so the unstructured and reactionary approach to selling persists, and their performance levels are a roulette wheel of variability.
Elite sales organizations, however, use new prescriptive sales tools to guide their front–line sellers directly to those prospects and accounts that represent the greatest opportunities. They also provide them with prescriptive insights and build the to-do lists that sellers can apply to call planning for each specific sales opportunity. With the right guidance, sales reps no longer have to guess at which prospects or accounts to prioritize or what product gaps to pursue at a given account. They can even know which vendors to engage to help convert wallet-share opportunities.
For a variety of reasons, many end-customers cherry-pick their suppliers and split their wallet share across multiple competitors. However, when sellers reliably deliver results, customers with broad market baskets are also less likely to switch suppliers, are less price-sensitive, produce higher gross and net profits. If every rep could improve their share-of-wallet performance even modestly, a typical distributor would significantly grow revenue, customer retention, average gross margins and net account profitability.
How Sales Analytics Guide Sellers and Accelerate Growth
With defined KPIs for new-account acquisition (for hunters) and for wallet-share expansion (for farmers), prescriptive analytics provide a closed-loop sales system that narrows the gaps in seller performance and captures the gains of overall performance improvement. Modern sellers can select and execute pre-built sales call plans that predictably accelerate organic revenue growth with sales training focused on prospecting, opportunity management, and strategic account management. They know, on any given day, whom to talk to about what, and how to successfully lead that conversation.
For this system to work, sales analytics must evolve from descriptive to prescriptive, away from power-user tools to democratized, front-line call planning and execution solutions. This change in the orientation of sales analytics is critical to the outcome.
Relying on the old, spreadsheet/BI approach is like asking someone to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B by handing them an atlas. First, they have to flip through the atlas to find out where their current Point A is; then they have to decide what is Point B; then they have to flip through the atlas to find where Point B is; then they have to flip through the atlas to find the places in between. When they’re at Point B and ready to move on to Point C, they have to repeat the whole exasperating and generally inconclusive sequence.
The modern approach to getting from Point A to Point B is a GPS system or app. It always knows where you are, the alternate paths to get there, and then guides you step-by-step to the destination. Sales analytics, or prescriptive analytics, is like a GPS system for sales reps and guides their conversations with customers.
Lead the Right Conversations That Ultimately Accelerate Growth
Modern sales analytics provide an optimized to-do list and support its execution with the workflow tools and insights to expand customer value. Your sales team will know who should talk to whom, what to talk to about, and when and in what order and with what frequency to engage in such conversations. Call planning is then optimized. The selling process becomes simplified. As a result, a sales team can focus on, and execute the most important conversations.
To accelerate organic revenue growth, modern manufacturers and distributors need to provide their front-line sellers with prescriptive analytics and complementary sales skills training. Analyzed, yet comprehendible data placed in the hands of your sellers predictably leads to the right daily conversations that enhance seller performance and unlock the productivity, revenue and profit gains from one of your most potentially valuable resources: the sales team.
If you’d like to learn more about this modern approach to sales acceleration, please reach out to us. We’d love to chat and learn more about your goals.