Success in sales—or any field, really—is almost always about analytics; a.k.a., knowing what’s next.
Henry Ford’s assembly line came before everyone actually thought they’d need a car. Apple stock was trading for less than 50 cents a share in 1984. Biff Tannen (the bully in Back to the Future 2) became a gazillionaire by knowing the final score to every Super Bowl before it happened.
And while you may not always be able to say with absolute certainty what’s next for your business—“this quote is 100% guaranteed to close… this CRM system will deliver an ROI of exactly 74% in 61 weeks”—with the right analytics tools and systems in place, you can accurately forecast what’s next.
Because sales isn’t a guessing game: it’s a metrics system. And here are two of the biggest metrics to keep your eye on.
The main metric in every sales analytics system
What metrics matter? It’s too easy to say “all of them!” (And “all of them” is too much to measure as well—with analytics, it’s always best to keep the number of variables to a minimum.) But it’s the top metric for any business should be conversions.
No matter what sales analytics, CPQ, CRM, or other systems you might be using, you’re tracking toward a conversion: from unknown entity to qualified prospect; from qualified prospect to lead; from lead to opportunity; from opportunity to customer.
The right business intelligence tool will keep all this info in one place, making it easy for a manager to forecast monthly, quarterly, and annual sales, and to analyze performance of individual salespeople as well.
NOTE: Make your analytics platform open to as many people in your business as you can. Building an understanding across your organization for why and how you’re tracking sales activities can help build a more data-driven and outcomes-focused organization.
The missing metric(s) in every sales analytics system
Analytics tools provide an easy and accurate way to track both customer activity and sales opportunities. But what about what discovering the next big thing the public needs? How do you find that (gold) nugget of information?
The good news is there are free tools to help you uncover needs currently unmet by the market. Google Trends, for example, lets you view searches the world at large is making. Not just keywords, but stories, people, and more, all of which can inform a savvy business in product development.
Sticking with free stuff from Google, if you manage a website and have Google Analytics running on it—and you 100% have to have G.A. running on your site: it’s free, and the data it delivers is endless and actionable—ensure that site search is turned on.
Site search is a fast and easy way to get info on what you’re not showing your customers, or unintentionally hiding from them. E.g., if everyone coming to a site specializing in winter gear enters “wool socks” into site search, maybe it’s time to sell wool socks, or move them to the homepage, or add them as an upsell.
The short answer to success in sales analytics is this: get all the metrics on all you can. Track every customer from first visit to lifetime value. Track every opportunity from first click to signed contract. And use analytics to understand the world around your business, too. The next Model-T/iPhone/game changer is always around the corner—and the business with the best tools in place to see what’s next will get there first.