A great personality is often a salesperson's biggest asset. Charm, emotional intelligence, and good people skills are all essential. Combined, they can help generate leads, close deals, and generate repeat business. Experience and connections also count, not forgetting supportive management and an organisational structure that invests in the growth of its people and expects nothing but the best from them.
That's all well and good, but the new Web 2.0 business world increasingly demands salespeople who are also adept at making use of data analytics to understand, predict and respond to the ever-changing needs and behaviour of customers, the market economy, not to mention the competition.
Salespeople who bring great selling skills to the table will always be in demand. But recruits who are also enthusiastic about the role data analytics can play in the success of their sales efforts can give your business a distinct edge. Here’s how:
They make smarter decisions
Who would you back? A sales pro armed with data that provides an accurate reflection of what each and every customer last purchased when and predictive analytics that tells them exactly when a certain customer is likely to repurchase an order? Or one who makes decisions based on a hunch? I know who my money would be on.
The point here is that data analysis and the technology required to understand it does not replace the sales pro. It merely enhances them and enables them to make smarter sales decisions as a result. If you know customer X always purchases notepads every 6 months, then call them in advance and offer them a discount on pens with their next order. If they always buy printer cartridges from you every 3 months and one month you notice there’s a drop in spend, call the customer and find out why.
An informed sales team is a more productive one. It’s your job as the business owner to make sure they are informed.
They get to customers and prospects before the competition does
One of the most useful elements of data analytics is that it will tell you as much about what the customer is not buying, as it will about what the customer is buying. By identifying any fall in spend across any account, data analysis will give your sales pro the time to pick up the phone and find out why before the competition gets to them. Or if you know that one particular customer always buys bricks from you but not cement (which probably means they are getting the cement from your competitor), then offer them a discount on cement when they next order.
Without the analysis to alert your team to the fall in sales or the missed opportunity in the first place, you’re losing out on valuable business.
They don’t waste time
One of the biggest benefits of data analytics software is it saves your team time and lets them focus exclusively on the job in hand. No one wants to be trawling through spreadsheet after spreadsheet trying to figure out who they last called when and what they ordered or hassling the IT department to provide them with the right data to take to the next meeting. The real promise of technology in this regard is it lets your team focus on what they are employed to do and nothing else: sell.
Information is the currency of success today. Quick access to potentially actionable data about leads, buyers, orders, the competition and even about what others on the team are up to can help both the core sales team as well as the new sales recruits get a head start on their sales efforts and be more proactive and nimble as a result. Data-savvy salespeople and the right sales intelligence technology will give your business the edge. Whether or not you seize this opportunity is up to you!