Potential for boosting sales – benefits and features
Use of Business Intelligence in Sales?
Business intelligence and data analytics have really come far way with technological innovation improvement. There are so many ways to collect data these days, that at times it may be overwhelming with how fast automation tools develops. However, in the indirect sales channel, data analytics and business intelligence can really shine and make a huge, tangible difference in revenue generation.
An indirect sales channel has so many different moving parts and steps before products reach the final consumer, that having a software that can help manage and instruct some of these steps can really boost efficiency. Additionally, all these channels could utilize data collection for analysis, which could also help provide analytics and in turn boost revenues.
What really is business intelligence in sales (BI) all about?
Business Intelligence in sales, according to Investopedia, “refers to the procedural and technical infrastructure that collects, stores, and analyzes the data produced by a company’s activities”. In short, they state that business intelligence is a broad term that includes not only data mining, and process analysis, but also performance benchmarking, and descriptive analytics.
Business intelligence, also known as business data analytics puts together all the data generated by a business and presents easy-to-digest reports, performance measures, and trends that inform high level executive management decisions. There is absolutely no question anymore that companies need big data.
It’s what keeps a company competitive in the fast-paced market. Knowing ‘when’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ something has happened can provide real value to executives and key decision makers. The more information there is on an action or happening, provides more power for decision makers to wield in ensuring they are more prepared for the next business deal. To prove the fact that this is indeed a useful trend to look into, German company @Statista states that “almost 53% of surveyed global organizations had adopted big data technology, with another 38% reporting intent to adopt it in the near future”.
Business intelligence came about as a necessity for executive managers to make better decisions. It was proven time and time again that managers that did not have an accurate or complete picture of a situation would make poor, inaccurate decisions.
These new tools hope not to replace human intelligence, but to work in conjunction with it to provide a better informational foundation to managers to make better decisions, having a clearer and more accurate picture of the marketplace, based in data-based fact.
Why are BI solutions for sales important?
As mentioned above, business intelligence spans many different processes and provides and analyzes data from a wide number of different sources. Data analysts can then utilize the outputs here to provide guidance to a firm on major opportunities they may have within the industry or the marketplace. Even executives can just look directly at data visualization charts or graphs and get a gist of the information for decision making directly. The important factor here is to start using a tool, because so many companies are already using such tools, and business intelligence has really become a critical component in competing with other companies in any industry, but especially in B2B sales channels.
What are the Benefits?
Enhances data quality – not only is a business intelligence tool more accurate at collecting data, as opposed to a human, prone to human error, but it also does a better job at sensing which data is relevant and utilizes more relevant data. On top of that, data is renewed constantly, so the data is always real-time applicable which improves data quality so that managers can make decisions based on current data.
Quickens work speed – it should be no surprise that a business analytics tool can find data and sort it faster than any human could. Additionally, generally there is a centralized system of data storage and sharing, which then allows information to be shared with relevant teams and partners in real time, which can quicken the process of relaying information within the company or between channel partners.
Analysis of the data – these tools can also provide a basic analysis of the data into meaningful information for executives. With consumers following trends and switching what they demand quickly based on social media, it is helpful to have analysis of real-time data always. The tool will pick up trends faster and present them in a way that is always currently relevant.
Forecasting capabilities and operations enhancement – predictive capabilities of business intelligence tools allow forecasting for sales, as well as adopting and learning based on new sales metrics and KPIs with artificial intelligence in these analytic tools.
Quick outlier detection – business intelligence tools are not incorrect, unless broken. They work according to their algorithms and can quickly detect trends and patterns, which they can then present to executives in easy-to-understand manners. Human error being reduced helps to make information more accurate, and these tools can help to quickly highlight any red flags for any outliers or issues out of the ordinary that need addressing. This will allow management to stop errors from occurring, by quickly being notified and acting much faster than would be possible by a human eye.
Executives are always in the know – with the real time data always being accessible, sales executives no longer need to wait for sales staff to comb through data and send a manually written report or call a meeting. Now these systems are capable of spitting out information in a more visually pleasing way, often via graphs and charts, which is easier to interpret. These reports can also usually be generated at any time with any frequency the executive would like them. Lastly, the information is always up-to-date and more accurate, so executives can feel more assured when assessing the reports for making major decisions within the sales channel.
Some key features you may be looking for
Though so many benefits were mentioned, it is important to really analyze which business intelligence tool is a great fit for your tasks and business needs. Bear in mind, one tool may not have all of them, but be familiar with the features you would like, so you can look for a tool that best meets your needs.
Some of these key features may be:
Centralization and platform integration – business intelligence tools that allow for a centralized way of sorting and storing data may be very useful. This would mean that the tool could find, record and store data from other applications, but still retrieve it in one centralized place. This lessens wasting time switching back and forth between various systems, and avoids issues of synching data in an organized, uniformed manner.
Dashboard for data visualization – very good business intelligence tools should incorporate useful dashboards that can display data in very easy to understand visual graphics. This makes it easier for the human brain to get the gist of the information faster and spot any trends or outliers more easily. This can also allow data interaction and manipulation easier for analysis so that collaboration or decision making can be easier and faster. Lastly, this is a great place to note any metrics so that it is easy to see what processes and activities are working successfully, as well as those that are not.
Easy access across devices – perhaps it is important to you for executives, or certain persons with additional permissions, to be able to access this information on the go. Having a system that allows use on a computer, personal laptop, or even smart phone and tablet could be essential for certain teams or executives. It could be very helpful for key persons to have information on the subject matters easily accessibly at any time or any place.
Data analytics – some organizations may want more than just basic data collection and storage to be easily accessible. Artificial intelligence within some business intelligence tools can really push the envelope with giving more analytics that executives may wish to act on. This would then allow the tool to learn from past trends and any set algorithms or metrics to make useful suggestions at various points in the sales channel.
Reporting and alert functions – Having reporting, which can a lot of times be a very large time drainer for any employee, carried out by the intelligence tool can really save a lot of employees’ time. The reports could be done quicker, more standardized and even more accurate than when done by a human employee. It will also always draw from real-time, current data, so the reports will not be outdated. Additionally, alerts for certain scenarios can be set up, so that if there is a problem (for example, stock falls below a certain number, or the number of closed sales is lower than a certain quota), executives can be alerted quickly. This is very beneficial in many cases as more often than not, acting on information quicker is better for a good solution.
Limitations in the use of BI tools
All in all, you should really consider a proper business intelligence tool to meet your company’s needs, but remember that the tool cannot do everything. There are still some things you need to bear in mind to really optimize how your business intelligence tool works for you:
Garbage in means garbage out – if incorrect data sources, or wrong algorithms are set up that do not match the desired output, then the tool cannot function the way you want it to. It will give you information based on what you have asked it to do.
Use the right metrics – having metrics that properly measure your goals can help the tool do its job better.
Take time to learn, train for optimal use – adjusting to a new system can take time and learning all the features and functions is critical to getting the best use from it, both for executives and all staff members using this.
Willingness to adapt – the system is only useful if you use it. You and your staff must be willing to adapt to utilizing this new technology, and you will see massive benefits if you give it a chance.
With all this being said, will you consider implementing a business intelligence tool in your company?