Meet your sales quota this quarter with SPARK

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Question: Why did your company miss its revenue forecast?
Answer: Due to macro-economic factors.

Question: What are you doing about it this year?
Answer: We are hiring more people to make the numbers.

Okay, while it’s easy to spot the flaw in the above strategy statements, unfortunately that’s exactly what many large organizations do. Really, if your tried-and-tested sales veterans are unable to make their numbers, what chance do a new hires have?

The question we need to ask is why are these incumbents failing? Is it because they are not prospecting enough or is it because they’re not converting deals? Could it be that your sales process or the sales support structure is not robust enough? Have you considered whether your sales managers and sales reps are adequately trained and enabled? Is it a strategy issue or an execution issue or is it really a macro-economic issue? Unless you know the root cause, you will be managing symptoms with tired off-the-shelf solutions, like hiring more people, instead of treating the real issues.

To address this, most large companies have made huge investments in sales analytics. But unfortunately, sales managers and reps find little value in reviewing “what has happened??? reports, which give no insight into “why has it happened??? and hence “what will happen??? and “what to do.??? This leads to either following the status quo or randomly trying something new that has caught the fancy of the sales VP.

Also, while investing in and building a sales analytics program, it is very important to keep your audience in mind. Sales reps and sales managers are not analysts who would be easily excited by graphs and charts while chasing their monthly quotas. So what generally tends to happen is sales analytics programs get a luke-warm reception from the sales teams. This results in low adoption and underwhelming ROI on sales reporting systems.

The Sales AI

What field sales needs is actionable intelligence – what should I do next? Which account should I pursue? What should I sell? What price should I offer? What should I do next? Which sales rep to shadow and coach? What to coach her on?

High-confidence action recommendation should be the ultimate output of a successful sales analytics program.

How do we get there?With Predictive analytics, simulations, optimization techniques, you have the ability to statistically test your hypothesis to understand the cause and effect variables and rank the influencers based on their impact on your sales objectives.

It allows you to predict what may happen, e.g. which sales rep may not meet his quota, which deal may not close, which account may not buy etc. and why, at a very high confidence level.

This system then allows you to form a scientific basis for taking preemptive actions to course correct performance trends by rep, by region, by account types and by deal types.

Below is a framework of an advanced analytics-based Sales Prediction and Action Recommendation Knowledge (SPARK) system that aims at helping you deploy the right sales person in the right accounts and chase the right deals.

Sales DNA, Account DNA and Deal DNA analysis

Sales DNA, Account DNA and Deal DNA analysis

A data-driven approach sports transparency, builds consensus among stakeholders, and most importantly, guides you in the right direction.