Originally published at ITBusiness.ca on December 16, 2013
Effective use of data, especially predictive analytics, will give businesses a strong competitive advantage.
Analytics delivers significant benefits to businesses of all sizes. McKinsey research has indicated eight to 10 per cent CAGR rates for companies using these approaches. Our industry research sees possibilities of 20 to 50 per cent growth possibilities for businesses.
The limitations in analytics are not due to the size of a business. Rather, the main limitation is the quality of the data available. With improved data collection and cleansing methods, and new mathematical methods of analysis of data prediction engines can be more effectively trained and the resulting analytics are more reliable and actionable.
The increased presence of mathematics, in what traditionally was the arena of statistics and machine learning techniques, has led to revolutionary new insights. Tools from such diverse areas as algebraic topology, graph theory and dynamical systems – for long, considered amongst the bastions of pure mathematics – are proving ‘unreasonably effective’ in analyzing data as diverse as pharmaceuticals and finance. The power of these methods has not yet been fully explored. We believe the next competitive edge is in acknowledging that ‘it is all about math now’. This is why SalesChoice has teamed up with Professor Dr. Kumar Murty, Chair of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Toronto. Together with his research group, new mathematical insights are being brought to bear on sales data to advance our client’s competitive edge.
Enterprises need to invoke and apply predictive analytics to evolve. This is the single biggest way companies can differentiate themselves from the competition. With effective use of predictive analytics, companies can identify their best customers and identify which of them are most likely to behave profitably. While it is true that many companies do invoke predictive models in line with campaign strategies and overall business strategy, allowing them to identify those customers most likely to be profitable, this approach can actually yield dividends if applied to ‘the full play out’.
Adding intelligence to the sales funnel
Think of a sales funnel – getting better leads just takes you to the five-year line. There is still a gap between a more well qualified lead to win the actual touch down: the closing of the deal. What needs to happen in predictive analytics is to analyze everything ingested by the CRM platform, including marketing automation, the full funnel and the edge play – what is really happening in email interactions, phone call interactions, trends in the market. Digesting this big data intelligence will help companies accurately predict their sales forecast in real-time.
More importantly our innovations at SalesChoice will provide sales reps with a smart sales ‘GPS/compass’ which will help them to advance and reach their targets more effectively & efficiently. Sales reps often waste precious time and by focusing on the right sales opportunities that mathematically help them to secure plan more rapidly will start to alter sales execution pathways.
Recently our SalesChoice scientists analyzed the sales data of two companies. One company — a mid-sized, professional services software company — was using Salesforce.com, and we found that 80 per cent of their marketing budget investments (in marketing automation (Marketo) integrated with SFDC) actually had a negative impact on their business and these patterns came from positive lead scoring front end investments.
Facts derived from the most advanced mathematical approaches integrated with machine learning and artificial intelligence and statistical approaches quickly filters what is real versus hype. In this case, the company was spending on content syndication and other hype marketing approaches, and ad words to drive growth. Had they spent more time in deeper customer relationship management (such as lunches with each of their customers, and having a smarter customer referral program) their growth would have been 20 per cent greater. Discovering deeply hidden patterns and mining them, against the collective wisdom of years of historical sales performance, and also examining the highest performing sales reps activities across multiple dimensions creates a guiding light to drive performance to higher ground.
The next age of sales we believe will lie in what we call ‘The Science of Selling’. Having mastered solution-selling approaches, spicing up sales approaches now with The Challenger approaches, the use of smarter technology that can predict future outcomes more accurately can only help company’s grow their business more rapidly.
These smarter sales tools will allow us to learn from the behaviors in real time of the highest performers. It is true that they approach things differently according to the circumstances. Nevertheless, there are patterns. Deliberately, or inadvertently, they have discovered successful patterns of working that others can follow. Working with Professor Kumar Murty at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Toronto, we are invoking and incorporating deep insights provided by mathematical tools to discover hidden patterns that can make or break the sales process.
Long an evangelist and champion of the power of mathematics to reshape our world, Kumar has used ‘big data’ techniques to understand early predictors of student performance. He is now excited to be able to ably his research group’s expertise to analyze sales data in real time. Of course, the tools they are developing will be widely applicable in many contexts.
With this unique partnership of sales professionals and mathematical researchers, SalesChoice is discovering the science of selling and in the process, is creating the pathways and the highways to allow sales professionals to breakthrough to higher performance levels. Unlocking new potential in sales professionals and being able to more effectively deliver value to customers is what gets me up every morning. Having lived and breathed sales for several decades, I am truly excited by the revolutionary new concepts that mathematics is introducing to help us discover the science of selling.