To appreciate the sheer power of sales analysis, consider Amazon.com. Floated on the stockmarket at a split-adjusted price of $1.50, its shares reached an all-time high of $373 last week—an increase in value of almost 25,000%. Put another way, if you’d invested £1,000 at launch, you’d have almost £250,000 today.
And powering a lot of that growth is sales analysis. Simply put, Amazon mines the data that it possesses on what we buy from it, in order to craft ever more tempting offers to induce us to buy yet more. Granted, there’s more to Amazon than just sales analysis, but sales analysis lies very much at the core of the company’s retail proposition.
Because, as we all know, Amazon is skilled at providing us with the output of that sales analysis. “Customers who bought this item also bought that item,” it tells us. “Customers who looked at this item eventually bought that item,” it prompts us, when we’re wavering. And “Customers who buy this item also buy these items as accessories,” it adds, as we click the ‘buy’ button and add an item to our on-line shopping basket.
And needless to say, all of these insights are delivered to us in real time, influencing our buying decisions at the point of purchase. In short, as we’re browsing its wares, Amazon is at our elbow, cleverly guiding our buying decisions.
Sales analysis – Whatever the sales model
Now, not every business operates in the same way as Amazon. Many businesses sell to other businesses, for instance, rather than consumers. And not every business sells through a website: in many businesses, the salesperson is a vital part of the buying decision. And, of course, not every business needs to influence buying decisions in real time, at the point of purchase.
But none of these scenarios are reasons to discount sales analysis. Far from it. For the insights that emerge from sales analysis are just as vital, whatever the sales model—all that has changed is how the sale is executed.
In short, it’s immaterial whether the insights in question inform the sales person while closing the deal, or instead inform the marketing campaigns that promote the product and build the sales proposition.
Because what matters is that those vital parts of the sales process draw upon one of the biggest assets that a business has—the data that it holds on customer buying behaviour.
Not your father’s sales analysis
The trouble is, some businesses don’t see it this way. Mention ‘sales analysis’, and they think in terms of reports showing which sales person is doing best this month, or which regions are outperforming the rest, or which products are discounted the most.
All of which is useful information, to be sure. But it’s information that’s geared towards monitoring the sales process, not managing and directing it.
Sure, it’s helpful to be able to spot when a salesperson is underperforming, or see when products are being excessively discounted by salespeople keen to make a sale. Yet even with the most hard-nosed of sales managers, this sort of information isn’t going to help a business deliver a step change in sales revenues.
For that, you need sales analysis that reaches out to create insights into what customers are doing—and not what salespeople are doing.
Sales analysis: answers, not questions
Now, realistically speaking, no business is going to achieve Amazonesque insights overnight.
For a start, traditional on-premise sales analysis, using traditional on-premise business intelligence systems, takes time to set up and deploy. Nor is it cheap.
And, to be frank, the processing power required isn’t inconsiderable either.
All of which helps to explain why sales analysis is high on the agenda of customers coming to Matillion. They recognize, in short, that our rapidly-deployed, affordable, scalable, and cloud business intelligence platform can help them achieve their sales analysis objectives quicker and more cheaply than traditional business intelligence systems.
Put another way, while their competitors are still drafting the capital expenditure justification for the hardware and software required, our customers are out in the marketplace, already leveraging the insights they’ve gained.
Which option would you prefer?
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