When it comes to understanding your products, pricing, and customers, tracking sales data across all these variables can be the difference between success and failure.
In the now hyper-competitive business world, sales data is often the key to making your company stand out among other vendors fighting for the same market share. The ability to track what customers are buying, what products are trending down, and what stores or sales areas are struggling provides actionable intelligence. You can use actionable intelligence to better position your company for growth and prevent challenges before they impact your bottom line.
When aggregated in a central location and referenced regularly, sales data provides transparency into your company’s performance. Business intelligence software can provide a central location for all your data, converting columns of spreadsheets into visual charts and graph you can use to lead your team and make profitable decisions.
If your company is considering business intelligence for sales analytics and reporting, consider the following five benefits as reasons to move forward:
1. Sell More to Existing Customers
It’s no secret that it costs more to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. One study suggests that the “probability of selling to an existing customer is up to 14 times higher than selling to a new customer.”
Armed with business intelligence, your sales team will have a better understanding of what your customers are buying, and perhaps more importantly, what they are not. Tracking sales data by customer will reveal demand trends and opportunities to cross-sell other products. If one of your customers is buying administrative HR software, for example, but not payroll service, you can create marketing campaigns targeting that specific opportunity.
2. Provide Better Customer Service
As you track customer sales and analyze buying habits, you can create a more complete picture of your customers’ business needs. With actionable intelligence from your BI software, your sales team can walk into customer meetings better prepared to respond to questions, discuss potential opportunities for cost savings, introduce new products they can use to increase sales, and review current stock levels to avoid inventory challenges.
As you and your team learn more about your customers’ needs, you can provide better service, strengthen relationships and earn loyalty.
3. Make Data-Driven Decisions
To keep pace with the market and keep competitors at bay, you need unfettered access to current information about your business, and you need to use this information to drive decisions. Emotional decisions or initiatives based on intuition pose risks you can not afford to take.
With sales data broken down by customer, sales rep, or product, you can approach performance reviews with insights that help each rep achieve higher sales or mend broken customer relationships. With details about historical product sales across various industries, you can make sure your team is prepared for spikes in demand and ready to address any question. These are just two examples of how you can make more data-driven decisions. Having accurate and timely data at your fingertips will make it easier to justify actions you take with your team and your customers.
4. A Single Source of Truth for Reporting
For many companies, data about customers, products and marketing activity is likely stored in different systems spread across your business. Sometimes, these disparate systems don’t speak to each other, and data is rarely shared in a productive, efficient manner.
Business intelligence software can serve as a single source of truth for all relevant business data. BI can integrate with a variety of company systems including enterprise resource planning (ERP), point-of-sale, warehouse/supply chain management and customer relationship management (CRM). This integration enables holistic data to be measured through your business intelligence tool, which gives you a more complete picture of your performance and a more transparent sales culture.
5. Support for Other Departments
Actionable intelligence benefits more than your sales team. The knowledge about what products are selling (and to whom) can make other areas of your business more efficient. Operations will be able to better plan and forecast product demand, which means preparing manufacturing, product development, and customer service for production schedules and staffing needs.
Marketing will have the evidence they need to prove which campaigns are driving sales and which ones need to be refined. Management will be able to access executive dashboards with high-level details about sales activity, which will help them make strategic decisions for the benefit of the company and justify future investments in sales. Data from a single source of truth will drive value between departments and across the enterprise.
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Sales leaders need to monitor a smorgasbord of key performance indicators, from individual and team performance to product sales, inventory, and marketing campaigns. BI software helps you manage all of these data points from one system and keep your analytics current.
You can approach every interaction with your sales team fully informed about their customers and territories. You can communicate progress and address concerns while empowering them with useful data, scorecards, and comprehensive views of everything they should address with customers. Sales is the engine that drives business growth, and maximizing your team’s effectiveness should be a top priority.
Paul Robertson is head of digital marketing at Phocas Software. Phocas business intelligence software helps wholesale distributors, manufacturers, and retailers discover opportunities to increase sales, reduce costs and gain better visibility into their business. Paul holds a degree in communications and marketing and is completing a Master of Information Systems at the University of Melbourne.