Analytics has taken over the world of sales. According to a recent Salesforce survey, 79 percent of sales teams are planning to utilize analytics to improve efficiency. Data reveals what customers really want in expansive and expressive detail. That has many benefits for sales professionals, but most of all it speeds up the time to close. Thanks to data, sales teams spend less time and effort making bigger deals.
Sales analytics is incredibly exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Analytics is a high-tech, detail-driven process. It’s challenging even for people with the right education and experience. And, unfortunately, enthusiasm can’t make up for a skills gap.
The good news is that sales analytics is not out of reach. Even better, it does not take extensive retraining to become adept at analytics. All it takes to become data literate is a little time and commitment. Follow these steps:
Step One – Take a Statistics Course
Analytics is not rocket science, but it does have a basis in math. An introductory college statistics course is a great way to learn the core concepts and basic principles. Once you have this knowledge foundation it’s much easier to pick up the ins and outs of analytics. There are statistics courses available through most community colleges and through a number of online outlets. It’s also worth noting that with a good teacher and some persistence, statistics is not impossible. If you want to continue on there are a number of other data management courses to consider. For most sales professionals, however, introductory statistics is enough.
Step Two – Get Access to Data
Like many things, you learn data literacy through experience. If you have never had access to comprehensive data sets it just makes sense, they would be confusing and intimidating. The best way to get over that hurdle is to simply dive in. Explore how much data you have access to. If it’s not much, ask your manager for access to more after explaining your motives. You might even ask for help or resources to understand the data (depending on your situation). Even if you get turned down for everything, expressing your interest in sales analytics is still important. Companies won’t invest in sales analytics until they realize that sales professionals actually want and need them.
Step Three – Expand Your Understanding
Data literacy isn’t just about understanding sales data – it’s about understanding all data. If you only focus on sales figures and customer profiles you won’t learn how to fully leverage information. Request access to as much data as possible (within reason). When you see data-driven decisions being made, ask to see the underlying facts and figures. You can learn a lot about using data effectively simply by observing how other people use it.
Step Four – Hold Yourself Accountable
Sales is black and white because your numbers are either up or down. You always know whether you’re making progress or not. Apply the same commitment to empirical evaluation to your data literacy efforts. What metrics can you use to measure your performance? What is the benchmark between success or failure? How much do you want to learn, and when do you want to master it by? The answers to these questions keep you on track, which is important when you’re trying to learn independently. Apply the same rigor to your studies that you do to the sales cycle.
Salesforce also says that 76 percent of sales people who learn analytics report an improved or significantly improved relationship with clients. Framed that way, it’s easy to see the full potential of sales analytics. It’s not a trick or a tool. It’s a way to double or triple your numbers.