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Data-driven Forecasting: Unleash your sales “secret weapon”

Data-driven Forecasting: Unleash your sales “secret weapon”


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It is said that every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, and no trust[1]. I’d propose a sixth: no insight.



With billions of dollars in market value constantly on the line, an organization’s ability to grow revenue in a sustainable, predictable way relies on sales. However, sales success is contingent on contributions from the organization’s channels, products, geographical locations and sales teams.  If you think about an individual sales representative or single product, it’s great if one performs well but at the enterprise level, an organization will only meet their revenue and profitability goals if they get as many elements as possible “firing on all cylinders”.

In hopes of improving the bottom line, organizations large and small are now starting to realize the power of data. The problem is not that they lack data; in fact, most are swimming in data from both internal and externals sources. The issue lies in making the most of the data they have. Organizations must find a way to aggregate, sift through, and make sense of it all to find the most relevant and accurate information to support sales decisions and drive top-line results.

Those who lead in sales are the ones who to “take control” with analytics, whereas sales laggards fail to capitalize on this valuable resource.

Here are 5 key realities realized by those who are gaining success through analytics:

Getting to know customers takes more than a round of golf

With less time for in-person meetings, customers and prospects often communicate with vendors by indirect channels. Bringing this data together into a single platform not only provides a competitive advantage, but it is critical to understanding the customer needs and the opportunity they present. With self-service analytics tools, sales reps can quickly and easily do their own research. The speed of response and depth of insight that comes with these platforms enables a more sophisticated sales approach and a shorter sales cycle.

You don’t know what you don’t know

With large investments in CRM platforms, such as Salesforce.com, there is a wealth of knowledge available about customers and prospects. Unfortunately, these databases are often so vast that the sales team has no way of finding the data they need. In many situations, they don’t even know what to look for. Business intelligence tools can tap into these databases and present data in a consolidated, easy to navigate way, allowing the sales team to explore, discover, and reap the benefits.

Inaccurate weather forecasts are expected, inaccurate sales forecasts shouldn’t be

Insufficient pipeline data entered by reps, and insufficient analytical capabilities within CRM platforms are the two biggest causes of forecast inaccuracies and missed sales targets. BI platforms allow sales management to slice and dice live data to unearth risks and opportunities through what-if analysis while adding value to traditional insights like forecasting and budget analysis. By interacting with the data on their own, they are also able to catch inconsistencies and errors more easily.

If you hesitate, you may be too late

Leaders make fast, data-driven decisions based on a complete view of the prospect or customer. Timely and accurate decision-making provides the support for the deals, reps, and channels that need it most. In a recent Aberdeen study, “leaders rated their speed of decision-making capabilities to be 36% greater than laggards.”[2]

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Facts don’t lie

Leaders empower their sales reps with self-service analytics. As a result, the reps are able to identify territory and account trends, which increases call volume and quality, upping conversion rates, and ultimately driving better sales productivity.

In today’s competitive market, sales leaders can’t afford to ignore the value of their data. Organizations that embrace it have realized first-hand the tight link between sales analytics and sales performance. Those that are most successful, actually put it into the front lines, allowing their sales teams to search, access and explore data to find key insights that help them drive more revenue.

[2] Aberdeen Group, Sales Analytics: Data-driven Forecasting for Better Quota Attainment, April 2014


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