The volatility of the past two years has thrown even the best sales and planning teams in the market into high blood pressure mode. For this reason, the value of data analysis has risen rapidly to dispel the fog of mixed signals and pre-COVID assumptions. The good news is that you can bolster your sales analytics with solid methods today that effectively change referrals. This will put your team in a position to make better decisions on where to focus sales resources.
Leveraging analytics can improve distributors’ market planning capability by moving actionable data to the front lines. Bob Jordan and Donnie Williamson of MDM Analytics recently outlined some keys to extracting more value from data during an MDM webcast (see on demand). Key takeaways from their presentation include how to use the analytical building blocks of data quality, segmentation, sweet spot analysis, market share, and wallet share to define better quotas and growth targets. Here are four actionable webcast steps distributors can take in 2022 to ensure sales teams and growth plans are driven by smart data collection and analytics:
Find a “data champion”
One of the best opportunities to focus sales teams is to use data to target the most potential accounts and segments. This includes hiring or empowering someone to advocate for data efforts and interests. Hiring people who understand data – but also know the retail industry well – can produce qualitative and quantitative data that will prove vital. To know where to focus, distributors need to understand where they are currently delivering the most value and driving profit. This can only be done with a well-segmented list of their customers and the industries they serve, preferably by NAICS or SIC. With an understanding of the type of businesses that drive the most profitability, they know they can target the same type of customers who aren’t currently customers. Any good analysis has both qualitative and quantitative elements, and it is essential that the analyst masters both. A business-minded data analyst will be able to spot glaring problems in the data before it reaches the consumer, which goes a long way in helping people trust the data.
Prioritize data quality
Whether creating internal data collection processes or reaching out to a third party, quality is king when it comes to analytics. Clean, reliable data is the basis of any analysis, and the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is more than a maxim. Whether a company’s data isn’t currently managed—or it has a “data team”—it’s imperative that it manages its data well and deepens its data journey today. Hiring a third party to clean and improve data is a great option for those just starting their analytics journey, but the goal is to come up with a well-defined data strategy. Each step comes with better results, minimizing the short-term and long-term effects of less-than-stellar data.
Set the data that moves the needle
Reliable data is an excellent starting point; but the real power lies in the ability to generate actionable insights that lead to informed decisions leading to increased market share. Actionable data allows distributors to determine if they are selling to the right customers and leveraging external market information can help companies prepare for critical factors such as expected market shifts and inflationary increases. Many leading companies with seasoned data strategies have embraced the coupling of internal and external market data to generate breakthrough growth strategies. They have a clear picture of their customers and the markets they serve. They know which products bring the most value along their supply chain and can change and act quickly in the face of unforeseen changes. Having a clear picture of how a business is doing compared to the rest of the market will provide the information needed to better achieve goals.
Build a data-driven sales process
Here’s a shocker: Sales reps don’t always know what the total opportunity is for a specific account or territory. This is a process for moving from data-less discussions to data-driven discussions about where a seller should spend time. It is possible to create a model using historical transaction data to bring data to the table. And for most verticals, there are external market data sources to support how your team can model market and account opportunities. Whether a distribution house develops the process or outsources it will pave the way for increased concentration during periods of market turbulence. It’s a proven formula. Companies that improve their use of data analytics give their sales teams a competitive edge to increase revenue by targeting and developing the most potential accounts.
To learn more about analytics-driven market planning and other data-driven practices, visit the MDM analysis website. Watch the recent MDM analytics webcast here.