Analytics in sales: keep it simple

It’s easy to say that sales activities should be governed by data.

I mean it’s pretty obvious. The things that have worked for you in the past are more likely to work for you in the future, so collecting and analyzing what works and doesn’t is the most basic sales data analysis. It’s also 90% of what needs to be done. What’s remarkable is that so few businesses do it.

Sales data is also about what the market is doing and what your individual sales team members are doing or not doing. Just looking for patterns in successes and failures is just the start. And many companies don’t even do that.

In addition, there is the ever-present threat of sales strategy shift. It’s probably the biggest single barrier to sales success. And I have seen it just about everywhere I’ve been. Owners, managers, leaders in the organization understand that operations, logistics, IT, or marketing plans take time to implement and work, but think that changing sales strategies every six weeks will help them capture more revenue. It won’t.

An example

Sales strategy should be about data too. You need to start with your goal and then look to data to inform you on how you can reach it. The “how” is your strategy. For example, let’s say 50% of your current customers came to you via your website. A strategy built around getting more people to your site through a variety of means might be a good one.

Collect, report, and analyze the data regarding the various paths to your website. Use that to inform the tactics you should employ. Then don’t quit if it doesn’t pay off right away. Stick with it for at least several months.

Start with basic analytics. Visitors, bounce rates, the time and date of your social media posts, and dates of events you attended or marketing you ran. That’s about it. Correlate those things. The trends will likely be obvious.

PowerBI is a phenomenal tool. And there are other strong analytics products out there. But start with Excel. Nothing fancy. Until you know that you are going to use the data to inform your actions, don’t invest much in it. Correlate the data every month for a while and see where things match up. If they don’t, the chances that there is some super secret correlation that you just can’t see probably aren’t that high. It likely means you can then change strategies. When you know for near-certain that your strategy isn’t leading to more business, then change your plan. Not before. Wait at least several months for trends to be visible or not.