It’s no surprise that the amount of predictive data solutions available has grown dramatically over the past few years. Many of these SaaS-based solutions enable B2B companies to glean insights from their data about “what is likely to happen,” which was an important shift from previous methods of analytics tools that only created backward-looking reports, often called descriptive analytics.
Moving forward, analytics solutions need to go one step further and be more prescriptive, answering the question “what should we do.” This is particularly critical for B2B sales reps that operate in massively complex environments. Prescriptive analytics solutions provide answers to everyday decisions, such as what price to quote, which customers to call on and what products to sell.
By providing sales teams with prescriptive pricing and sales guidance, sales reps can consistently make their numbers and each member of the C-suite can reach their individual goals as explained below.
Chief Executive Officer - The thousands of commercial decisions made by frontline sales and marketing employees ultimately add up to a company’s financial performance. Ensuring those decisions align with the company’s P&L objectives and larger business strategy is the key to success for CEOs. Guiding sales reps on the most important frontline decisions with actionable insights about what customers to focus on and what prices to quote will help ensure sales reps are focused in the right places to sell more, while maximizing profits.
Chief Information Officer - Often tasked with implementing data analytics to gain valuable insights from customer and transaction data, CIOs are typically faced with a build versus buy decision. They could hire data scientists to build an internal analytics program. However, instead of reinventing the wheel, it’s often more cost effective and efficient to buy a prescriptive analytics tool that can be implemented in a matter of weeks and provide frontline sales teams with actionable insights that lead to top- and bottom-line growth.
Chief Financial Officer - Profitable growth is often the No. 1 priority for CFOs. When cost-cutting measures have run their course, the next opportunity for increased profits is price. In fact, according to a study in the book, The Price Advantage, a 1 percent increase in price translates into an 11 percent increase in profits. CFOs should have a vested interest in the prices sales reps are quoting. With sales reps’ tendency to overdiscount 50 percent of the time in order to avoid losing the sale, providing prescriptive price guidance that meets the profit goals of the business should be a top priority for CFOs.
Chief Marketing Officer - A common challenge for CMOs is how to deliver leads to the sales team, and in tandem, how to focus selling efforts on the latest promotion, rebate opportunity or the newest product line. When CMOs know exactly which additional products each customer should be buying, campaign targeting and delivering high quality leads to sales become much easier. Through the use of prescriptive analytics, CMOs can prioritise those opportunities and deliver a plan directly to sales reps regarding what each customer should be buying. This results in successful execution in the field and more revenue.
Chief Operations Officer - COOs are rightly focused on applying lean principles to every facet of a company’s operations to realize significant cost savings. However, poor pricing methods from sales teams effectively transfer the incremental profits from Lean activities away from companies and into the pockets of their customers. Prescriptive pricing guidance can help ensure hard-earned gains from lean programs aren’t lost by the time a transaction is complete and the P&L is tallied.
Ultimately, the C-suite can expect the most significant results when their sales teams are equipped with answers to everyday sales decisions that align with company strategy.
By Eric Hills, Chief Evangelist and Senior Vice President, Zilliant