Gathering customer data is one thing, but extracting business value from that data is the real key to uncovering new sales opportunities.

If your sales reps are merely waving the corporate flag on customer calls then by now you would have realised that sales are suffering. The time to simply tyre kick and call on a customer “because it’s Tuesday and I always go there on a Tuesday” is now a thing of the past.

man-65049_1280-1Now more than ever, costs are key for customers. But in my view, suppliers are not always thinking the same way. I regularly hear about sales teams running in the dark, with no clear direction on who to call and what to push.

The result is a huge investment for a comparatively marginal return. If each member of a sales team is tasked with three calls a day then, at a conservative view of £100 per visit allowing for salary and expenses, approximate investment equates to £1,500 per week or, £70,500 per annum, per rep – taking into account holiday allowance.

Making the Investment Count

This is the challenge of selling in a highly competitive market, and it makes maximising the return absolutely critical. Sales teams have to get better at understanding the products their customers are buying and, alongside that, those they are not buying but should. Consequently companies are now building huge repositories of data from every customer engagement, stock movement and invoice, to better understand their customer buying habits.  

Data is one thing, but obtaining sales value from it is another. To solve this problem firms are turning to Business Intelligence software - a market worth $10.8bn globally, and one that is expected to grow annually by approximately eight to ten percent through 2014, according to IT analysts Gartner.

Business Intelligence (BI) enables sales teams to explore and analyse their data to identify new sales opportunities. A sales manager might use BI, for example, to review all customers buying “Model X” spark plugs, but not “Model X” cables, and put in place a targeted cross-sell campaign based on the results. Extracting this level of detail manually from a mature Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database is virtually impossible – there are simply too many figures to find meaningful results.

Six Figure Sales for a Four Figure Investment

Because of their complex product sets and large customer bases, many companies are already using BI to fine-tune their ongoing sales strategies.

Our customers also use BI to help define individual sales campaigns. Leading parts supplier Roadlink International used our Phocas Professional BI suite during a brake parts campaign to identify customers who were buying callipers but not pads. By cross-selling to those individual customers, Roadlink doubled its pads sales by the end of the campaign.

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Similarly, Benchmark Distribution, one of the UK's largest independent automotive component specialists, used Phocas to ensure targeted direct selling without expensive direct marketing. Phocas uncovered 46 additional easy to win sales opportunities with a total value of over £100,000 in a single report.

In my experience adding even one additional product sale per customer, per rep is a simple thing to do if you know exactly what to pitch, and to who. The results are certainly worth that analysis.

If your average customer spends £10,000 per annum based on 30 products from your portfolio then that equates to £500 per product line over the year. If three calls per day ended with one additional product being sold to one of those customers then your return based on three reps would be £46,999. With a majority of our customers telling us their customers are spending approximately 50 percent less this year than the year previous, these additional wins are vital.

Finding the Right BI System for the Job

A simple BI tool can provide the analysis required to go into a sales meeting with the data you need to get these results. However, it’s important that the software allows your sales team to explore data by following their train of thought, rather than simply reporting back on each individual question asked. This is because many opportunities are difficult to find if you don’t know what part of the data to query in the first place.

The latest generation of BI is designed to do just that, and consequently offers a quick return on investment. For an automotive company with a large product portfolio and customer base, BI is the missing link between data and an optimised sales strategy. Get it right, and BI will turbo charge your customer data to help your sales team take a fresh approach to previously routine customer calls.

Would you like to get more out of your customer data? Have an obligation free chat with us about business intelligence by clicking here, or the button below.

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Tags: Strategy, Management and Performance

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