90% of worldwide data has been created in the last 2 years and predictions are that it will continue to double every two years. From personalised offers via supermarket bonus cards to Netflix’s recommendation system, the B2C market is awash with new innovations that make use of big data by means of machine learning and advanced analytics.
It is not as clear how applicable those innovations are in the B2B market, but with the correct data, tools and expertise much can be gained from them. The most significant development with respect to sales, in my opinion, is the use of Predictive Analytics.
Simply stated, you look back on the past to determine what occurred, by whom and where. By using statistical models to detect patterns in historical data, predictive analytics can reveal both risks and opportunities.
1) More efficient lead generation and lead scoring. Based on the current CRM data, an algorithm can pinpoint leads that are best suited to your company. Those leads are scored, enabling the sales team to invest their time in the most fitting opportunities.
2) Sales forecasting. Sales forecasting is particularly important for bigger organisations with a large customer base. Cultivating customer behaviour, seasonal demand and other models can result in a more efficient allocation of means and resources during the course of the year.
3) Better pricing strategy. Much time is involved in negotiating prices. Deal analytics enables the sales team to apply a pricing algorithm and deal scoring techniques. This means that an algorithm, based on data pertaining to past deals, can generate recommendations regarding optimal price levels. Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are also recommended.
Which of these techniques are the most relevant depends largely on the size of your company and the number of customers you have, but every company can obtain insights from the current CRM system, provided it is adequately filled.
And this is the most important point; your output depends on your input. Virtually every sales team has a CRM system, but few sales people make proper use of that system. Entering full or partial information into the CRM system after every call, email or appointment is an acquired habit and can be tedious at first, but the more data is put into the system, the more value you will get out of it. Data driven sales is not a vogue word that will die out in a few years’ time; either take advantage of it, or the competition will leave you in its wake. It’s up to you!