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Sales Analytics Software: A Quick Guide
Keeping up with rapid shifts in the market in these times of change is daunting but vital to achieving success as an enterprise. Knowing how to adapt to and flourish in this new business climate may be as simple as taking a look at sales.
A sale means revenue, but what can a single sales datapoint reveal about buyer interests, market trends, and strategies for the future? Quite a lot, actually.
Sales data analysis is one of the most important tools for running a business. Generating sales analytics reports that tell you what deals are closing, when they’re buying, and how frequently they are buying can help ensure your business strategies remain competitive and that you stay connected with your prospect base.
A great way to keep track of all these moving data points is to invest in sales analytics software. These tools are built to help you visualize your target demographics, your current reach, and buyer interests.
But where’s the best place to begin?
There are sales tools out there for every type of business and for operations of all sizes. Understanding which kinds of applications and software are best suited to your company and its product offerings is crucial, but first let’s look at what kinds of things these tools track, what they can do, and how the data they generate relates to the way you run your business.
Sales Performance Analysis
Sales performance is a metric that covers many individual performance indicators. In the most basic sense, it refers to how much of a product or service is actually getting sold. This may seem straightforward, but knowing how to perform sales performance analysis can help reveal important information about your consumer base and the market itself.
Imagine, for example, that there is a spike in enrollment for a series of management training webinars offered on your site. This could point to a number of things. Maybe a group of affiliated companies has decided to implement a new managing style. Perhaps it’s the start of a general move towards virtual solutions to executive learning. Maybe it’s something else entirely.
Pinpointing the exact cause for such a change is more complicated, but tracking sales informs a business about such fluctuations and shows them where to focus their attention.
Sales performance analysis is one of the core concerns of sales analytics software. As such, it should maintain a prominent place on your sales performance dashboard: the all-in-one data hub for sales analysis.
There are programs to track every aspect of a business down to the most minute level. Of course, most executives will want to focus on the big picture.
This is what a sales analytics dashboard is for.
Like the dashboard of a car, a sales dashboard contains only the most pertinent and vital information. It condenses the myriad data that your analytic software quantifies and displays only the most relevant metrics in a straightforward interface.
A sales dashboard helps you visualize and track your KPIs. Things like operational expenses, competitor performance, market penetration, and many others can be viewed at a glance. You do not have to parse endless seas of data to get what you need.
Sales dashboard design is customizable and modular and can be organized and personalized according to business type and user preference. Dashboards are also easily scalable, able to track the health and success of both the smallest and largest enterprises. Determining what the best sales dashboards are is difficult, however, because each company will have different needs. Here are a few of the most popular offerings:
- Sisense’s dashboard tools are used by business giants like GE and Verizon but are more detailed and complex than other solutions
- Conversionomics is more basic and suited for use as a first step into data visualization
- Adverity features perhaps the clearest visualizer and is especially geared towards multinational enterprises
Sales Analytics Tools
The dashboard is the most useful tool for looking at sales metrics and KPIs, but the number of sales analytics tools available is staggering and does much more than help with visualization.
One of the most basic tools for sales data analysis is Excel. Knowing how to analyze sales data in Excel is an important skill and can enable you to access and track some simple trends and metrics.
Excel is primarily a spreadsheet application for organizing raw data, but it also contains some easy-to-use compilation tools which can help you create graphics like pie charts, scatter plots, or line graphs.
Usually, though, analytics software comes in suites containing a variety of programs designed to measure and track a variety of metrics. The Salesforce sales analytics package, marketed as Tableau, is one of the most comprehensive. Everything from regional sales figures to weather patterns are quantified and displayed in their own state-of-the-art dashboard.
Another thing which can be vital to success in shifting markets is a forecasting tool. The Hubspot sales forecasting tool uses AI to make predictions about future trends based on real-time data input. While most data analytics software counts on the user to make predictions and decisions, a forecasting tool can assist in making the right move at the right time.
Types of Sales Analysis
As there are many types of sales analytics software, there are many types of sales analysis. In one way or another, though, they all revolve around basic measurements of sales productivity and sales performance.
Knowing how to measure sales productivity is an important step towards increasing the efficiency of your pipeline and your business as a whole. Sales productivity measures the ratio of sales made to resources allotted to make that sale. One could use analytics software to measure how many conversions resulted from the placement of a set of ads and, thus, determine how profitable that ad campaign was. One could also keep track of employee performance by tracking the number of sales made by an individual or team over a certain time period.
How to analyze sales performance may seem more straightforward because it involves simply looking at how many sales get made. However, this figure can be broken down into smaller parts which can be tracked individually and targeted for improvement. One could track the performance of a product among startups, on the East Coast, during a single quarter, or among any other consumer, geographic, or temporal demographic.
Sales analytics use cases like these are, of course, only examples, but analytics software exists to handle all these and more.
Sales Analytics Metrics
From basic measures like sales performance and sales productivity are derived a number of sales analytics metrics which may be more pertinent and manageable in the running of a business. What belongs on a sales metrics dashboard will differ from company to company, but here are a few which experts agree are most important in keeping a business successful and growing.
This tells a company what products or services are realizing the highest sales figures. Businesses can determine which products to focus more attention on and which to drop.
This metric relates to sales team performance. It can help identify members of your team who are doing especially well and those who are struggling. It can also measure the efficacy of your sales model itself.
This is a simple metric which helps you keep track of how effective sales and management strategies are. It is the quickest way of determining whether a given business tactic is working.
This shows, in essence, how likely a prospective client is to purchase your product. It can also reveal gaps in your sales pipeline.
This selection or sales metrics template could, together, form a basic dashboard, but it’s up to you to determine what your company’s needs are and what its focuses should be.
Sales Analytics Examples
To conclude, here are included some sales analytics examples which demonstrate the utility and benefits of a sales analytics platform or software suite.
A company that sells 3-D imaging software to real estate firms notices that it is having trouble improving sales performance. It tracks sales figures near its headquarters on the central Atlantic coast and finds positive revenue figures and steady growth in its client base. Sales in the Midwest, however, have either stagnated or fallen. After scrutinizing data on conversion rates in this region, it discovers that property sales are healthy, but that prospective firms are not expressing interest in the product. The company realizes that the high proportion of land sales as opposed to housing/apartment sales renders their product superfluous. The company shifts its attention to more metropolitan areas in the region.
A company offers a range of supply chain solutions for restaurants. Its largest clients are American-style eateries in major metropolitan areas. The company notices that in the past few years client engagement has dropped regularly during certain months. They examine visitor data from their site and notice that viewership also decreases during these periods. They conclude that the issue is not their pipeline but has to do with a seasonal decrease in restaurant business related to weather and tourism. The company examines the profit trajectories of their client businesses during peak seasons and notices that the profits of vegan and vegetarian restaurants are on the rise. The company diverts resources to attract clients specializing in these cuisines in order to offset seasonal losses.
Statistical analysis of sales data is a complex process that can be approached in numerous ways. Regardless of what your business does or how you run it, though, sales analysis software is one of the best tools for increasing both efficiency and profit.