by Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO & Founder, SalesChoice Inc. 

An Excerpt from her new book: SalesPredictions:The Next Big Thing in Sales (Q1, 2013).

Shocking research from CSO Insights and Accenture (2013), confirms that nearly 50% of the Fortune 1000 are not realizing their sales quotas. Inaccurate forecasts continue to plague the industry, competitive pressures are at all time highs, CRM systems promise improvement practices and forecasting, yet over three decades, we still have abysmal sales quota attainment results.

The reality is there are only a few more rabbit holes left for CEOs or Chief Sales Officers, or the new term Chief Revenue Officer, starting to peek out in corners of the C-Suite. There is also Chief Data Officer titles emerging given the increasingly complex challenge of Data Management, and growth of Big Data and Analytics, as our world continues to explode in data everywhere.

The new rabbit hole is a very promising one, as companies are increasingly turning to sales analytics solutions that provide an enterprise-wide data flow into to maintain a competitive position in the market, companies are turning to sales prediction analytic solutions that provide an enterprise-wide data flow intelligence into the forecasting process, (The Aberdeen Group, 2013).

The Aberdeen report (based on a survey of 422 broadly representative enterprises) found that 65% of its Best-in-Class respondents had in place “customized data integration between sales and other information silos that requires little or no support from IT.”  Compare that figure to 45% of the Industry Average Group, and just 28% of Laggards.  Similarly, 81% of top performing companies had CRM/SFA dashboards that integrate goal vs. actual sales forecast data—compared to 47% of the average group, and 37% of the lowest performers.

Well-executed sales analytics can assist the business by creating a more refined snapshot of future revenue and empowering more efficient, margin-driven sales activity, as well as more pure selling time by the sales team itself. Some of the benefits are impactful, not only can you increase your revenue attainment odds from 20-50% as you are tightly focusing the sales rep on opportunities that are valid and worthy to chase. Turning off sales folks from chasing prospects without firm interest qualified requires a big red sign, saying STOP.

Most CRM systems simply don’t have real-time predictive intelligence embedded into their basic sales enablement platform. A new breed of sales prediction analytic companies are starting to emerge, looking well beyond just the sales prospect lead scoring, and moving into full opportunity scoring, mining both CRMinputs, and associated activities, with sales reps and customers, ranging from analyzing email activity, mobile activity, calendar activity, social activity, connecting to external data sources, etc. to provide further insights, etc.

Sales intelligence (SI) solutions have been increasing over the past few years (especially in the B2B space), the focus has been on pushing actionable information directly into the sales organization. With a faster, fatter information pipeline, plus automated triggers, it’s easier to identify prospects at just the right time—and there are increased opportunities for up selling and cross-selling, based on an enhanced view of the customer.