Many sales reps have a certain way of doing things. Implementing new processes or adding new tools or technologies that attempt to change their habits can often be met with resistance.

Sales reps rely on their “tried-and-true” methods learned from predecessors, or they lean on their personal knowledge and experience to manage their customers and plan their approach with individual customers. Gut-feel has been the leading driver for sales strategies for many years, but in today’s fast paced and competitive environment, sales reps need every advantage they can get.  

A recent McKinsey article suggested, “driving sales growth today requires fundamentally different ways of working as well as outstanding execution across large, decentralized sales teams and channel partners. While many sales leaders accept this reality in principle, they don’t put sufficient energy or focus into driving that level of change. Advances in digital and analytics, however, mean that sales leaders can now drive and scale meaningful changes that pay off today and tomorrow.”

So, if you’re a sales rep that doesn’t think you need data analytics, here are five reasons why you do:

1. More sales opportunities than you think 

This alone should steer your team toward data analytics. Data can uncover trends in your customers’ buying behavior that can help you identify gaps in their ordering. In addition, your customers’ data can also reveal upsell or cross-sell opportunities that can help you increase your sales volume across a much wider swath of products, without impacting any of your existing sales. While your gut feel may tell you to spend more time with a customer, data can help you understand why, pointing you to new complementary products that can quickly grow your sales.

2. Uncover challenges before they impact your bottom line

There is a good chance one or more of your customers purchase products from other suppliers. What if that same customer started to buy less from you and more from that other supplier? What if that decline occurred over several months? Would you even know? These are difficult questions to ask and answer, but if you’re like many sales people, you have dozens of customers that you are working with and a slow decline in sales with a single customer may go unnoticed. With data at your fingertips, on your laptop to your mobile device, you can constantly monitor your customers' purchasing habits, and ask questions about negative trends before they start to impact your company’s bottom line and your paycheck.

3. Retaining customers is easier than finding new ones

This is related to number two, but it deserves its own bullet point. Retention is a simple business reality that makes your business data even more important. Underserved customers are underserved for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are new and got lost in the shuffle, or turnover at the sales rep position has left them without support for a period of time. Perhaps they have made several large purchases over the last year and deserve better pricing, or they were once a loyal customer, but their sales have slowly declined, and are at risk of leaving to a competitor. Engaging these at-risk customers requires that you recognize the signs before they take their business elsewhere. 

4. It will make your life easier 

Access to data analytics has oftentimes only been given to the IT team or specially trained individuals. Data analytics turns raw data into actionable intelligence. No more reading outdated spreadsheets, guessing where your next sale will come from or what information to share with your customer during your next sales meeting. Business intelligence software is designed to help you quickly mine value from data so you can make the right decision for you and your customers. Rows and columns of data are now presented in charts, graphs and tables that you can click to uncover transactional level details that brings to the surface the accounts that need your attention the most. Data analytics helps you eliminate the guess work about your job and focus on what customer you can help the most while also helping you achieve your sales goals.

5. Prepare to perform

Imagine going into a customer meeting with their entire order history at your fingertips, or an understanding of their recent commitment to certain brand, style or size of product. How will that information shape your next product presentation or sales proposal? You can turn your customers into data advocates by reviewing with them weekly reports about their engagement with you. Could that information help them improve efficiencies, capitalize on sales promotions or recognize holes in their own ordering? As you share and use your data to help them, you show them that you are committed to their success, as well as your own.

Data analytics is a powerful tool for sales people that are looking to maximize their performance, grow sales and retain customers. The results of implementing analytics are better revenue growth at the same or improved margins, quickly, while customer satisfaction improves. If you’re not using data to drive your business, there’s no better time than the present to start.

For more information download our free webinar, Empowering your sales team with data.

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Tags: Business Intelligence Basics, Job Role - Sales, Job Role - Executive

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