First, CRM systems are only able to show you what the current state of your pipeline is. So maybe you had $100,000 in your pipeline last week and now you have $125,000. Obviously this is a good thing, but being in sales, you know that it wasn’t just another deal that came into your pipeline. Maybe you had a deal move out, two deals move in, and one deal decreased in amount. BI solutions allow you to see this change easily without exporting to Excel and going line by line to see the differences. So now with a few clicks, you know that your $125,000 current pipeline is actually made up of 3 new deals, 2 lost deals, and an increased amount deal.
Second, now that you have the ability to capture historical data, you can apply risk to individual deals in your pipeline. For example, we can say that any deal that has been pushed out more than 3 times is a high risk deal. (This one is often a blind spot to sales ops people because the deal still stays in the pipeline so that total pipeline amount doesn’t change.) Or you can have a last touched risk category or a stalled deals category that says if a deal has stayed in X stage longer than Y days, flag it as high risk. These risk metrics allow you to focus on the deals that you can make a difference on and hopefully turn around the deals that are falling off track. The great part is that BI solutions can be configured to your sales process and methodology. (I have heard of one company that said, ‘If we don’t get to the VP level or higher by the negotiation stage, flag that deal as high risk. Now they know that they need to do something to get an executive involved in the process.)
Finally, BI tools will allow you to more effectively coach your sales reps. Armed with this knowledge you can have more meaningful conversations with your reps about where to focus their time, where they are stuck and may need assistance, and what deals they should stop wasting their time on. In today’s economy, sales reps are working harder and chasing more deals to meet their number. It is time we start working smarter on the deals that we can actually make a difference.
Applying BI for your sales organization can provide immediate value to your sales organization. It can help you close more deals, shorten sales cycles, help you forecast more accurately and ultimately increase revenue. There are many BI solutions on the market today and each one does reporting and analytics a different way. Make sure that you choose a BI solution that fits your needs and fills the gaps in your current reporting process.