Monday, March 31, 2014

4 ways to getting Sales Analytics through The Trough of Disillusionment

One of Gartner’s proprietary research methodologies is the so called “Hype Cycle”, which attempts to measure on a curve, where a technology or technological term is in its popularity maturity cycle.  The main components as you would expect are 1) the sharp rise as visibility increases and the technology is the talk of the town, 2) the peak, 3) the trough of disillusionment where the technology’s value delivered does not exceed the early excitement generated, 4) climbing the slope back upward as the hype wears off and the technology proves its worth, and 5) finally the plateau where the technology has matured and is in better line with consumer expectation.

Late last year, there was a lot of buzz about how Big Data is hitting its peak where its benefits and value are near-term overstated and expectations are highest.  After its rapid uphill climb, Big Data is for the first time looking down the other side of the slope and now it will have to prove value against dissenters and trek to the other side of the valley.  Information Week, had a pretty interesting article about it here.

What struck me the most was the steep descent of Sales Analytics and Gartner’s expectation that it will be mired in the trough of disillusionment for the next 5 years . I find this to be a shame as so much work and investment is going into sales analytics, and results thus far are not living up to the hype.  

Having worked in enterprise business analysis, I have seen firsthand the behavior, characteristics, and technological limitations of sales users -- and it drove the vision to start Bimotics.  With that, I have gathered insight about the subject of Sales Analytics and sales dashboards and have listed a few suggestions that may save the subject and get the group as a whole over to the slope of enlightenment!

  1. Speed things up! - With the volume of relevant data and analytics, it is easy to make users wait for the information to load. Sales people are stereotypically impatient with shorter attention spans, so if you want them too look at analytics don’t make them wait.
  2. Clean it up! - Sales dashboards and analytics should look as polished as the sales materials that sales reps give to to their customers. I found usability is profoundly important with this user group.  Do not expect them to click around to look for something.
  3. Show the money! - Sales dashboards and analytics that don’t show the monetary impact are just not interesting to sales representatives who are generally incentivised by commissions and making a revenue quota. Blending information on commissions, pipeline value, opportunity size and bookings will certaining make the analytics more interesting and valuable.
  4. Encourage sharing and collaboration!: When planning a sale to a Sales Executive, a rule of them is to highlight how easy it is to share and communicate. This is because being able to work as a team and communicate to others is very important to sales.  Analytics and insights from a sales metric should be captured in the tool itself and sharable with a team.

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