With billions of dollars in market value constantly on the line, an organisation’s ability to grow revenue in a sustainable, predictable way relies on sales. However, sales success is contingent on contributions from the organisation’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. However, at the enterprise level, an organisation will only meet their revenue and profitability targets if they get as many elements firing on all cylinders as possible.

In hopes of improving the bottom line, organisations large and small are now starting to realise 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 – rather, the issue lies in making the most of the data they have. Organisations must find a way to aggregate, sift through, and make sense of all of the information they’ve collated in order to find the most relevant and accurate material to support sales decisions and drive top-line results.

Those who lead in sales are the ones who to make use of analytics, where sales laggards fail to capitalise on this valuable resource.

5 key realities

Here are 5 key realities realised by those who gain success through analytics:

1. 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 via 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 opportunities they present. With self-service analytics tools, sales representatives 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.

2. 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.

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

Insufficient pipeline data entered by representatives, and insufficient analytical capabilities within CRM platforms are the two biggest causes of forecast inaccuracies and missed sales targets. Business Intelligence (BI) platforms allow sales management to operate live data and unearth risks and opportunities through ‘what-if’ analyses, 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.

4. 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 support for the deals, representatives, and channels that need it most. A recent study by Aberdeen Group found that, “…leaders rated their speed of decision-making capabilities to be 36% greater than laggards.”

5. Facts don’t lie

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

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