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3 ways to use sales analytics to drive performance


The platform for orchestrating performance.

In a business world of ever-increasing sales goals and performance targets, sales executives and leaders are constantly seeking ways to optimize and maximize their sales data to help drive incremental results without increasing the burden on their sales force. Sales performance data is a treasure trove of information that provides insight for sales leaders to make better decisions and take action to drive sales performance results.

CSO Insights recently conducted a global survey on sales performance optimization, and found that 94 percent of respondents indicated that their 2014 revenue targets were increased from the year prior[1]—no big surprise really. But what is eye opening is that over half of sales reps are struggling to meet even their current quotas, and that more than 40 percent of respondents said that “scattered information and limited visibility into data” were key obstacles to better sales performance[2].

So, what is a sales leader in today’s environment—often balancing the pressure to meet sales goals while improving profitability and growth—to do? Sales leaders can no longer rely on basic forecasting, hunches, and gut instinct from the sales people. The importance of data, process, and planning has come to the sales organization, just as it has with finance and operations departments.

Anaplan recently sponsored a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to help uncover some key ways to maximize sales analytics within an organization. Many of these ideas also align with the “Steps to Success” presented in the downloadable whitepaper, “Motivate, Incent, Compensate, Enable: Sales Performance Management Best Practices” by the Aberdeen Group.

Here are some recommendations from the HBR report:

  • Take advantage of cloud-based, real-time sales analytics and planning systems, like Anaplan’s sales apps, that allow you to not only set targets, plan territories, manage quotas and incorporate compensation planning, but also give you the ability to work through “what-if” scenarios in an instant.
  • Consider introducing a cultural shift in your sales organization by appointing champions who embrace analytics who can help the sales force adopt a data-driven approach to the three phases of sales performance—planning, execution, and optimization. And focus on the adage of “work smarter, not harder.”
  • Use your sales analytics application to respond to a change in market conditions or to identify a trend and act quickly to capitalize on the opportunity. Real-time data, plus having everyone on the same page and trusting the data, can result in revenue opportunities that may have been missed in the world of spreadsheets.

For more information on creating a world class sales performance management system, download Aberdeen Group’s white paper, “Motivate, Incent, Compensate, Enable: Sales Performance Management Best Practices.”

[1] Harvard Business Review, “The New Science of Sales Performance”, 2014.

[2] Aberdeen Group, “Beyond the Quota: Best-in-Class Deployments of Sales Performance Management”, January 2014.