What is Sales Analytics?
The Ultimate Guide

As the name suggests, sales analytics is the practice of gathering and parsing data about your sales pipeline to devise an informed, objective sales strategy. Sales analytics can be both evidentiary and prescriptive. You can use analytics to detect patterns, trends, and anomalies in your existing sales data — and then use that intelligence to sift out inefficiencies and develop more refined targeting.

“Analytics isn’t likely to identify a whole new way to do business — rather, it will provide insights and opportunities,” a McKinsey report stated. Over two years, McKinsey used sales analytics to help several B2B companies improve performance. The result? “We have seen the speed of the initiation of first sales increase by 50 percent, churn reduced by 25 percent, sales from new accounts rise 10 percent, and a 2 to 5 percent return on sales through pricing,” McKinsey declared.

In essence, sales analytics allows you to pinpoint what your specific goals are so the sales enablement team can then decide how to achieve them.

Analytics has become a vital tool in all aspects of the technology industry, including sales. Especially sales. So if you’re in sales — or more specifically, in sales enablement — sales analytics is something you simply have to understand, inside and out.

The challenge to understanding sales analytics is that it takes so many forms. Determining the appropriate type of sales analytics for your particular application is one of the most important requirements for sales enablement leaders. To help you achieve that goal, we have compiled the answers to eight key questions, which you will find below.

Why Is Sales Analytics Important?

That’s a little like asking why it’s important to keep score during a basketball game. If no one knew the score as the game went on, every player could simply form their own opinion about whether they were performing well or not, and even whether their team was winning or losing. Imagine how difficult it would be for a coach to develop a cohesive strategy under those conditions.

And yet a surprising number of sales teams basically operate that way. In its recent “State of Sales Analytics” study, Gartner reported that “only 55% of sales teams standardize metrics across all business units, regions, and teams within the sales function itself.” That lack of standardization creates an atmosphere in which “leaders will make decisions based on erroneous assumptions and intuition.”

Sales analytics can remedy that. Just as in-depth basketball statistics provide insights beyond the score, such as rebounds, turnovers, and shooting percentage, analytics can help the sales enablement leader identify consistent metrics for driving a strategy to catch up — and then stay ahead of the game.

What Are the Different Applications of Sales Analytics?

Broadly, sales analytics provides detailed answers to four questions:

What happened? This is the raw data, broken down into different categories — sales by region, by team member, by product, and by timeframe, as well as things like conversion rates and YOY growth.

How did it happen? Sales analytics can point out patterns in the raw data that provide useful insights, including answers to difficult chicken-or-the-egg questions. Once you’ve identified an underperforming region, for example, analytics lets you take a deeper dive and establish whether the underperformance is due to factors within the market itself or to that particular sales team’s approach.

What is likely to happen next? Once analytics pinpoints particular patterns that repeat over time, it becomes much easier to create accurate sales forecasts.

How can we improve the outcome? This might be the biggest benefit of sales analytics. Figure out what’s been happening with your sales teams and why, and you can refine your sales methodology and redeploy your resources to produce greater accountability and better results.

What Are the Key Sales Metrics You Should Be Analyzing?

That depends to some degree on the particular goals and challenges of your organization. Other factors include the type of product or service you’re selling, your pricing relative to your competitors’, and the average length of your sales cycle.

Certain aspects of sales analytics are fairly standard, however, including the proper cadence. Typically, you track results by week, by month, and by quarter.

Examples of typical weekly sales analytics include:

Number of contacts: What is the target number of contacts (phone call, email, etc.) you would like your reps to make in a given week? What is the actual number? If the latter exceeds the former, you can probably set more aggressive goals. If it’s the opposite scenario, you might want to dial back the target number so your reps don’t feel the need to start spamming prospects just to hit a quota.

Response time: Depending on which source you cite, response time is either incredibly important or seriously overrated. One study famously found that conversions drop off significantly when a rep takes longer than five minutes to respond to an inbound lead. But as The RAIN Group’s Trish Bertuzzi pointed out, “It can take longer than five minutes to not sound like an idiot.” So the objective should not be to set some arbitrary standard; it should be to compare the lead response time of your most successful reps to that of your least successful reps and see if there’s a correlation. If there is, set the bar accordingly.

Examples of typical monthly sales analytics include:

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs): Not all leads are created equal. MQLs are the ones your marketing team has determined have the highest probability of conversion among your sales team. If the percentage of MQLs that result in actual conversions is low, that indicates a disconnect between your marketing team’s approach and the on-the-ground reality for your sales team.

Win rate: This is the percentage of deals a given rep managed to close compared to the number of deals they attempted to close. What’s a good win rate? A RAIN Group survey of 472 organizations found the average win rate is 47%. But the truly revealing finding was that win rate broke down into three basic groups: elite performers, top performers, and “the rest.” Elite performers, which comprised just the top 7% of respondents, produced an astounding win rate of 74%. Top performers, which comprised the top 20%, produced a win rate of 62%. Everyone else produced a win rate of just 40%. Knowing which of your reps are producing top win rates, as well as where and how they’re succeeding, can be extremely valuable.

Percentage of reps making quota: While other metrics provide a more precise measure of financial impact, an increase in quota attainment reflects the success of sales enablement, signifies greater team stability and job satisfaction, and correlates with lower turnover.

Examples of typical quarterly sales analytics include:

Customer lifetime value: This is an important metric because it accounts for the short-term cost of acquiring a customer as well as the total value that customer is liable to provide over the long term. A rep who’s producing high win rates could be relying too heavily on prospects that require a lot of ongoing customer support or are difficult to retain. Quarterly analytics can help surface these important insights. 

Time to first deal: On average, what is the length of time between when you hire a new rep and they complete onboarding and training and close their first deal? It might be longer than you think. Once you start tracking this metric, you can work on shortening that interval — which will reduce your cost of hiring and increase your first-year revenue per rep.

Content contribution: How effective is your sales content? Get the answer by tracking the use of sales content by each rep, tagging each opportunity, and tying content to pipeline and deals closed. That lets you measure the revenue contribution of specific assets.

Content lift: This is an even more precise measurement. By calculating the difference in average deal size in a given quarter between closed opportunities that had shared content and those that didn’t, you can determine the revenue lift of a content piece.

What Are the Top Benefits of a Sales Analytics Solution?

More sales, obviously. But fewer sales can also be a good thing under certain circumstances. It all depends on what kind of shape your sales funnel is in.

If a company’s reps are spending too much time courting and converting the wrong kinds of leads — if they’re peddling a square-peg application to a round-hole market — it’s vitally important to figure that out as soon as possible. In addition, “A close review of each stage [of the sales funnel] can help optimize each part of the process by making minor improvements,” according to job site Indeed. “Sales analytics can also help automate some processes, such as prospecting, and give sales representatives the opportunity to focus only on closing sales.”

In addition to refining the sales funnel, sales analytics can help you polish your messaging. “For example, marketers can collect analytics about content that consumers interact with versus content that gets little interaction and use this to create more engaging content,” says Indeed.

Using analytics to refine every aspect of your pitch, combined with training your reps to answer customer questions and overcome common objections quickly and decisively, helps build team members’ confidence and improve morale. And because everyone is working with the same set of objective metrics, you’re less likely to see internal clashes arise due to competing sales “philosophies.”

This fosters team harmony and a collaborative environment in which reps focus on supporting one another and refining the core messaging as your market evolves. At the same time, simple, understandable metrics enable objective scorekeeping for friendly competition among teams. Gotta keep everyone hungry.

How Do Sales Analytics Reports and Dashboards Work?

Sales analytics reports compile the raw data about your sales team’s performance and package it into well-defined categories to allow for apples-to-apples comparisons.

Remember those basketball statistics we mentioned earlier? Well, by aggregating statistics from individual games, you can track larger trends. In other words, in addition to documenting which player scored the most points or gathered the most rebounds in a particular game, you can gauge which players are the most consistent scorers and rebounders over the course of a season.

Sales analytics reports provide the same kind of detailed, data-based analysis of how your sales team performs over a specific period of time. They’re great for poring over and taking a deeper dive that puts your sales metrics in a broader context.

Sales analytics dashboards display performance metrics in real time. Just as a dashboard in a car provides the most relevant intelligence at a glance and can alert you of the need for immediate corrective measures, a sales analytics dashboard is great for quickly assessing whether a particular aspect of your sales platform is working or not

Is a specific training initiative having the desired results? Which learning content or external collateral pieces are moving the needle? A sales analytics dashboard empowers you to swiftly translate intelligence into action.

What Should You Look for in Sales Analytics Tools?

First of all, you need metrics that are most relevant to your product, your organization, and your sales teams — and that also reflect how effectively you’re meeting your customers’ needs. Then it’s a matter of finding the sales analytics tools that most precisely deliver those metrics. There’s a bit of a Goldilocks balance involved — you want enough hard data to take guesswork and bias out of the equation, but not so much data that you can’t tease out the key takeaways.

Basically, sales analytics software should offer:

An intuitive dashboard: Simple, self-explanatory visualizations are critical. The less that’s left to an individual user’s interpretation, the better.

Customization capabilities: Typically, a one-size-fits-all application doesn’t actually fit anybody. You want to be able to tailor your system’s benefits and features to fit your specific sales niche.

Seamless integrations: Customization shouldn’t come at the cost of compatibility. In a technology-driven world, you want sales analytics software that works and plays well with other types of software.

How Can You Master Sales Analytics with Allego?

With today’s distributed teams, it’s vital to implement an end-to-end solution rather than take a piecemeal approach. Doing so requires a sales enablement platform, which Gartner defines as “tools that unite sales enablement functions and customer-facing sales execution.” A turnkey solution should include everything from sales training to digital sales rooms to skills development to sales content management to an organization-wide collaborative culture.

Mastery of sales analytics is quickly moving from a nice-to-have to a have-to-have. Gartner again: “By 2025, 60% of B2B sales organizations will transition from experience- and intuition-based selling to data-driven selling, merging their sales process, sales applications, sales data and sales analytics into a single operational practice.”

Want to get ahead of the game? You can start with Allego’s award-winning sales enablement technology

How to Select the Right Sales Onboarding Software

Today’s B2B selling environment moves quickly. Each day seems to bring changes to markets, products, and selling situations. Sales organizations need access to sales onboarding software that lets them—and the sellers they are training—keep pace with these evolving markets. Look for solutions that meet sellers where they are, using modern forms of communication such as video and mobile and new technologies such as AI. Ensure the software is accessible and that sellers can interact with content, learning, and reinforcement long after the formal onboarding process has concluded. Because content is such a critical part of the selling process, be sure that whatever sales onboarding software you choose integrates with your content management system so that sellers have immediate access to the content they need—when they need it. Finally, all of your onboarding efforts will be in vain if you cannot track their impact. Be sure that your sales onboarding software has robust reporting capabilities that can report on a wide range of results and provide suggestions for improvement.

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