People usually think that the sales process heavily depends on three components: product, charisma, and luck. While all of them are indeed important, there is yet another crucial element — data. And it’s not only trends and client’s profile that matter in B2B sales — the most important and useful data is on a client’s position: what he has had historically, what he has now, and what are the dynamics. And for that purpose, Business Intelligence is a perfect solution.
Several months ago, we talked about Business Intelligence and the competitive landscape of the industry – you can read the article here. In short, Business Intelligence (or just BI) implies strategies and technologies that companies use for business data analysis.
The biggest problem with data is that it’s usually quite unstructured and comes from various data sources — social media platforms, CRM tools, emails, and online customer interactions, just to name a few. As a result, companies usually have oceans of business data and don’t know what to do with it. The beauty of BI tools is that they can transform raw and seemingly useless data into relevant and meaningful information that further helps in decision-making.
Both Business Intelligence and Business Analytics (BA) leverage data to help improve company operations, and quite often, entrepreneurs confuse the two terms. However, there are differences between the processes, and the major one is in the questions they answer.
The main focus of BA is predictive analytics. It uses modeling, ML, and data mining, and aims to determine the likelihood of future outcomes. Business Analytics answers the question “why” and helps to make more reasonable and educated predictions about what might happen.
Business Intelligence’s focus is on descriptive analytics. It collects both historical and current data to present what has happened or is happening right now. Business Intelligence answers the questions “how” and “what,” and with its help companies can replicate and double down on what works and change or stop doing what doesn’t.
Now that we’ve discussed the essence of Business Intelligence and its differentiation from Business Analytics, let’s talk about the benefits it brings to Sales.
BI helps to identify and focus on high-profit customers
While “big fish” clients — those who place the biggest order — are loved by companies of all sizes, they are not always the best customers in terms of profit. Quite often, it is repeated clients with middle-sized orders who are the most valuable to the business. At first glance, it’s almost impossible to identify and properly interpret the buying behavior of clients, nor is it easy to discover who are the most profitable ones. Business Intelligence tools, however, can help sales professionals to understand their customers’ preferences, specific desires, and overall buying behavior. This data, when analyzed and discussed within the team, can guide future targeting, and make specific sales campaigns as successful as possible.
BI boosts the accuracy of sales forecasts
By analyzing both historical and present data, BI helps to answer three basic questions in terms of sales forecast: “what,” “when,” and “to whom” you are going to sell. While this information may seem basic and pretty unsophisticated, it is in fact of immense business value. Data on seasonality of demand, specific product features that are liked the most, bottlenecks of operations, and a lot more — this is what BI helps to analyze and account for.
A lot of research in the industry has been conducted to prove that more accurate sales forecasts result in significant downstream improvements such as timely procurements, efficient inventory management, perfected order fill rates, and higher profit margins.
BI measures the effect of sales promotional campaigns
BI tools can help companies effortlessly plan, monitor, and analyze their promotional activities to understand what was done right and what is better to alter or completely dispose of. There are always spots in sales promotional campaigns that truly attract and engage customers, while others significantly hamper the sales process. BI software thus helps companies to understand how much value gives every dollar spent on advertising and marketing campaigns and, in turn, supports them in maximizing their ROI (return on investment).
As a company dealing with BI, we have seen a lot of cases when entrepreneurs blindly believed that their sales would skyrocket only because their product was good. But it doesn’t work this way. To secure steady demand and growth in sales, companies should monitor their customer behavior, identify patterns, and work on them. Understanding the true effects of rolling out particular campaigns and discounts or implementing new features gives companies a significant advantage over those who blindly believe that luck is the key player in the sales process. It is not.
The sales process is not the only one that needs insights and innovative approaches in order to function better than the market average. Production, distribution, operations — all the stages of the company’s operational cycle benefit significantly from fresh ideas and new technologies. If you have an idea that can make your business better or help your clients, Idealogic is your go-to — we are always ready to discuss interesting ideas and help with their implementation.