How Predictive Analytics Boosts Sales Effectiveness
As buying behaviour grows ever-more complex, the sales functions is under enormous pressure to adapt. The need to optimise sales productivity is more urgent than ever.
Luckily, there’s a solution: predictive analytics.
Predictive analytics is the sales X-factor, delivering better sales intelligence throughout the sales cycle so your people can focus activity where it counts. Less time spent on non-revenue generating activity; more time selling.
And selling to the right people in the right way, by unearthing the hidden needs in your lead, prospect and customer data.
Here are the 7 major reasons high-performing sales teams harness predictive analytics.
7 Ways Predictive Powers Sales Success
1. Make sales more efficient
We all know sales success isn’t only about selling ability. Salespeople who use their time efficiently convert more deals. So what if you could make all your salespeople more time-efficient, immediately? That’s what predictive analytics does.
Take the IDC stat that the average salesperson spends 68% of their time on research. Predictive makes that unnecessary. Instead, machine learning algorithms identify patterns from internal and external data – like your salespeople, only much faster and more comprehensively.
Your people get an intelligent list of prospect profiles as their starting point, instead of wasting time on research.
Predictive lead scoring
Predictive analytics then uses predictive lead scoring to rank your leads by likelihood to convert, based on analysis of how your previous leads performed. BrightTarget actually goes a step further by simultaneously ranking leads by future customer lifetime value, so you get a lead matrix like this:
Your salespeople spend their time on the A1 leads who’re not only more likely to convert, but also will be worth most when they do. So your conversion rates go up dramatically, and your margins improve too.
One of our recent customers realised a £400K cost saving from campaign optimisation, for example, thanks to a 44% decrease in required activity. Targeting leads identified through the BrightTarget platform meant a 67% increase in effectiveness of campaign activity.
Another customer enjoyed a 34% reduction in sales activity on inbound leads, and a 12% lead conversion rate improvement.
2 – Reduce sales team attrition
Sales has a notoriously high churn rate – 34% annually, if you listen to Bridge Group’s research [i]. A large part of that is the frustration, disappointment and drudgery that seems to come hand-in-hand with most sales roles. Many businesses still treat sales like a simple numbers game. Handle enough leads, and we’ll eventually hit targets. That approach is archaic.
And poor lead-to-sale conversion rates aren’t just bad for the department and the business; they’re bad for morale. Salespeople need data-driven insight that aligns to the buying journey, so they can identify, target and engage leads in the right way, at the right time.
That insight accelerates your sales cycle and increases conversion rates – and it empowers your people to genuinely add value. Which goes a long way to improving job fulfilment and reducing attrition. Get sales doing what they do best which is building relationships and empathy with prospects and not data crunching.
3 – Improve account growth
Predictive doesn’t only add value for new customer acquisition. It also helps grow your existing accounts, by spotting up-sell and cross-sell opportunities hidden in your data. It gives you the intelligence to make offers that better serve your customers.
This can be especially impactful for large businesses with multiple territories and products, where you’ve got endless disparate sources of information. Predictive gives you birds-eye visibility across your customer base, so you can capitalise on selling opportunities as they arise.
This isn’t just basic product recommendations. We’re talking about identifying and anticipating unanswered needs in your customer base, so you can personalise your engagement and cross/up-sell more effectively.
For example, BrightTarget recently global industrial manufacturer identify tens of £millions of cross-sell opportunity with a predicted conversion rate of 5% the next 12 months alone.
4 – Reduce customer churn
Predictive analyses your historic customer data to understand why past customers have left (or become inactive). It builds a picture of the data signals these customers give off, then identifies these same warning markers in your existing accounts.
You get an accurate picture of which customers will leave, months before they do. (BrightTarget’s platform generally predicts churn three months in advance at 80%+ accuracy) So your people can take the appropriate activity to keep them on board and increase lifetime account value.
For example, we recently helped a major media and publishing group reduce churn by 2% by focussing sales efforts on highest-value, most at-risk accounts and by early re-engagement of high future value, low-engagement customers.
Another customer protected over £2m in annual revenue from retention and reactivation activity powered by predictive, through a 0.25% reduction of high-value churners and 0.25% increase in reactivation of high-value lapsers.
5 – Improve and validate forecasting
Sales forecasting can be a nightmare. If the chips are down, every deal you’ve forecasted seems to drop out or push back – no matter how secure they seemed. Or sometimes everything drops in at once and you look like you were low-balling.
Predictive analytics empowers you to forecast deals and revenue much more accurately, based on rigorous analysis of thousands of data points. You can accurately see which accounts will close, at what value, and when – weeks before you could accurately predict yourself – so you can better manage the department.
By comparing the sales person’s forecast with the machine generated forecast, especially in the latter sales stages, sales leaders are able to focus on the variation to optimise account planning and increase the chances of hitting quarterly sales targets.
6 – Bring marketing onto the same page
The tussle between sales and marketing can seem never-ending, and some businesses have it worse than others. But even the most communicative, integrated business can struggle with seamless lead handover.
And that’s a costly issue. Hubspot report that marketing and sales misalignments costs global business around $1 trillion annually [i]. And predict a 10% annual revenue loss for any company which can’t align sales and marketing effectively [ii]. By contrast, organisations who do this well boast 38% higher sales win rates [iii].
The problem comes down to our mixed definitions of ‘lead’. What marketing think is a well-qualified lead often isn’t, from the sales perspective. In fact, IDC research shows that 94% of marketing-qualified leads never close.
That has a huge knock-on effect on sales effectiveness and team morale, but it’s always been a difficult issue to fix. Until now, with predictive.
Predictive platforms create a single, unified customer view that every department shares. Think back to the matrix above – the data creates a definitive answer to the lead handover question. Which means marketing can see exactly when prospects should be delivered to sales, and when they shouldn’t. So you only gets leads that are genuinely ready to buy.
7 – Turn your CRM into a more useful asset
Your CRM might be fantastic, but you’re pretty unusual if so! Most salespeople bemoan their CRM as a data-pit and time-suck that’s great in theory, but fails to deliver meaningful value. Data entry without results. At best, you get some historical reports that give little steer to the future.
With predictive, that changes. Predictive analytics enriches your existing customer data with external sources to build comprehensive profiles of each customer and account.
You get actionable insight from predictive in weeks; it doesn’t just sit there. And those insights aren’t historic – they’re about the future. You get accurate insight into which leads will convert and which accounts will grow and which might leave, which you can use to immediately impact outcomes.
Smart sales: sales powered by artificial intelligence
Predictive has huge transformative potential for the sales function, whether that’s traditional telesales, inside sales or field sales.
Advanced predictive increases sales conversion, often by double digit percentage points, by giving salespeople the insight and time to deliver more targeted, relevant offers to the right people at the right time.
No more time wasted on dead-end accounts. No more lists of unsuitable leads. No more unexpected deal drop-outs. This is the future of sales. This is smart sales.
Find out how predictive analytics could work for your organisation with the BrightTarget predictive marketing accelerator. This fixed-cost opportunity assessment is designed to prove the ROI potential of predictive using your own data, so you can see the value of predictive in action.
 Marketing Profs reported by Hubspot, https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-marketing-alignment-increases-revenue-infographic