A popular buzzword these days is data analytics. When it comes to sales, data analytics means collecting data on customer behaviors to help prospect and close more deals. A recent report by the Harvard Business Review Analytics Services entitled Winning at Sales in a Buyer-Empowered World outlines how to best use data in your sales process.

The biggest challenges facing sales

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According to a 2014 CSO Insights survey, the top 3 biggest challenges facing sales organizations are:

  1. managing rising customer expectations
  2. changing dynamics of their customer’s marketplace
  3. competition

What customers want in their sales reps

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According to a 2013 survey by IDC, the top 3 attributes of sales reps that influence customers’ technology buying decisions are:

  1. the sales rep’s ability to help solve business objectives
  2. the sales rep’s technology expertise
  3. the sales rep’s industry knowledge and experience

How can sales reps meet customers’ expectations?

These surveys nicely demonstrate that the challenges facing sales are complementary to the factors customers look for when deciding whether to buy.

To meet these rising customer expectations, sales organizations need to enable their sales reps with developing expertise in their customers’ business challenges. Specifically, sales reps need to have the knowledge required to explain the impact of their product or service on a customer’s profits, cost reduction efforts, and other important goals.

The best way to offer these insights is for sales teams to collect and analyze data from their customer interactions including customers participating in online communities, downloading white papers, and attending webcasts. These data points can help sales teams figure out where prospective customers are in their buying process and consequently, when and how they can engage them.

This is where you need your sales – and marketing – team to be using the most effective messaging, in the appropriate forum, for a particular sales context. How do you know what this messaging should be? By analyzing what’s worked for you – and others – in the past.

Is all this data collection and analysis worth it? In one survey, 37% of organizations expect an increase in revenue from applying data analytics to their sales process.

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How are you using data analytics in your selling? Let me know in the comments below.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices and data-based HR. She writes about trends and research in talent acquisition, people analytics, and workplace diversity.
Ji-A Min