Sales Analytics Are Helpful but Underused

Article Featured Image

Eighty-four percent of sales leaders agreed that sales analytics has had less influence on sales performance than expected, according to a new Gartner survey.

“With analytics comes the expectation of transformative decision making, but the reality is that many organizations struggle to produce actionable insights regarding their most important decisions,” says Kelly Fischbein, senior principal of research in the Gartner sales practice.

The research firm had initially expected sales leaders to be more reliant on sales analytics, according to Fischbein, who says that the most surprising thing about the survey was how analytics were failing to meet expectations.

Chief sales officers need to turn to analytics as the world moves to more data-driven decisions, Fischbein adds, noting that the need to understand and stay ahead of changing customer behavior prompts many analytics teams to seek additional data on customer activity across channels.

Forty-five percent of respondents cited data privacy concerns or regulations as their biggest barrier, followed by poor data quality and limited cross-functional collaboration (both at 44 percent).

“The net result is compounding complexity. More uncertainty creates more demand for analytics, which creates demand for more data, which in turn presents analytics teams with challenging operational barriers,” Fischbein explains.

The conventional approach to manage this range of demands just exacerbates the problem, she says. Many analytics teams simply aggregate requests from across the organization and believe that they can deliver value by taking on more and more. This puts the team in a reactive position and leads to a technology-
first approach to addressing gaps.

In other words, they make the best of what is available when the need hits, Fischbein says. “A better approach is for analytics leaders to prioritize the most important decisions their analytics are meant to drive and then build the systems and choose supporting tech that will best serve those decisions.”

And while sales leaders might seek analytics, they are often unsure how to use them when they receive them. They don’t start with the end in mind, Fischbein says. “It’s like they were thinking that data would magically solve their problems. But sometimes the data that they are drawing from isn’t as high-quality as they would like it to be. Also, when they get the data back, they don’t know what to do with it.”

Sales leaders typically haven’t used a data analytics-driven approach because most rose to their positions due to their success as salespeople, not their success in using data, Fischbein says. Moving to data analytics as a driver behind strategies and actions is a paradigm shift for them and their organizations, she adds.

To execute this paradigm shift, chief sales officer involvement is critical because it helps prioritize analytics throughout the sales team.

To address the disconnect between sales analytics and sales performance, chief sales officers must define analytics’ value proposition with their operations leaders, according to Fischbein.

The Gartner survey went on to find that CSO-led analytics are 2.3 times more likely to achieve higher forecast accuracy and 1.8 times more likely to exceed customer acquisition goals than non-CSO-led analytics.

“To achieve higher strategic influence of analytics, CSOs must lead when it comes to aligning analytics strategies to sales objectives and communicating insights from analytics,” Fischbein says.

To achieve this change in behavior, Gartner suggests that CSOs take these steps:

  • Deploy a decision-driven analytics approach. This means pinpointing the highest-impact decisions and prioritizing the analytics that have the most influence on those decisions.
  • Build specialization in their analytics organization that aligns with their top priorities.
  • Analyze seller performance metrics comparatively to drive actionability.

The change to using data analytics to drive strategies will take some time, Fischbein says. “It’s not going to be a quick culture change because it is a change of mindset. If you have one or two companies that are loud about demonstrating success [using data analytics to drive sales],” others will come around. 

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues

Related Articles

Consumers Prefer Ads to Paying for Content

IAB finds that 8 in 10 consumers support the ad-supported internet.