Predictive Analytics Brings Much-Needed Precision

Originally posted on LinkedIn by Kevin McDonnell.

Sales, the healthcare industry, product development, and hundreds of other business settings need predictive analytics to add precision. Why carpet bomb when you can use a smart bomb? To illustrate my point I’m going to stick within the sales and marketing world. When salespeople are hired they are commonly brought in for their rolodex. For some odd reason executives think that having a long contact list is going to be the secret sauce it takes to close deals fast. I hate to break it to you, that’s not the case. Here’s why…

Sales is the poster child for the phrase, “What have you done for me lately?” The only thing that matters to sales people and and sales managers is, “What did you sell this year?” This means that sales people don’t have time to wait for when a prospect is ready to buy. Buyers buy when they’re ready to buy. So this means most sales pro’s need to find who will buy now and frequently this means people they know are not in the market (at least not this year) for what they’re selling.

Secondly, if salespeople are selling a big-ticket item and are truly in the business of building relationships with prospects, then they don’t know a high-number of customers (or prospects) exceedingly well. Therefore, when you, executive, hire a sales expert, they’ll be able to go through their rolodex in about two months. You see, people they sold to five years ago really aren’t in their rolodex anymore. People change, people change industries, people die for crying out loud. So that rolodex isn’t quite as sexy as the sales person described it during the interview process where you literally had to wipe the drool off your face.

The name of the game to any sales professional is leads. Qualified leads. And there’s no better qualified lead than a quickly-received qualified lead. The sooner and the more the better. How do you think a good salesperson is going to find them? Answer: Hard work. Calls, InMails (my personal favorite), emails, networking, trade shows (Warning: this can be a serious boondoggle!), etc.. But this is the name of the game for a sales manager: The more time your sales people spend selling the higher the likelihood of hitting your company’s number. Prospecting is not selling.

Another point: No one sales job is worth destroying their rolodex. Sales experts have spent copious hours getting to know and spending time with executives. When they tell the sales pro that, “This will have to be pushed to Q1 next year” the best course of action is to not jeopardize the relationship by getting pushy. One sale isn’t worth damaging what took so long to create. They need to call upon that person when they’re selling for the next company in their career, and beyond. In summary, even though the person you hired with the rolodex might have a leg up on the person who doesn’t have one (or as good of one), it isn’t going to guarantee they hit their number. They need more qualified opportunities outside whom they already know.

So here we have it. How do you get leads to the sales team that are qualified, that won’t leave the sales team hitting their heads against the wall, in such a panic that they’re not going to hit their numbers (and thus calling sales recruiters for new opportunities)? The answer is predictive analytics.

Predictive analytics, especially when it’s embedded into your CRM (e.g. Salesforce.com) is the difference maker when it comes to sales success. Without it sales people feel like they’re playing “pin the tale on the donkey” or throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing if it sticks.

Predictive analytics is nothing short of having a virtual crystal ball. With it you can tell which customers are most likely to buy your product (Stay with me non-sales people, this applies to anything you need to predict). Having the probability in front of a sales team member cannot only empower them, it can flat-out remove a sense of discouragement. Take it from me, a former sales manager and sales operations expert, this is vital if you want to keep up morale, reduce turnover, and reach your sales goals. They don’t hit their numbers means the sales manager won’t hit his or her number either. This could mean “vaya con Dios”. (This does not mean “you get another chance” in Spanish). Here’s a visual to show you how powerful analytics could make your sales team and your company…

This is the digital age, the era of big data and powerful analytics. You cannot afford to have frustrated salespeople pulling their hair out. Despite this sound advice many will fail to seek out technology to enable your organization. Here are the reasons why some executives won’t take my advice (or you could say heed my warning, more on that in a minute)…

  • You have higher priorities (What’s more important that being efficient and effective and staying in business or in your job?)
  • It’s risky. (No risk, no reward.)
  • You don’t have time. (Leadership requires time management. You don’t find the time… You make it!)

One more illustration to make my point… If you wanted to find an item, let’s say it’s a slightly-used balance bike for your kids or your grandkids. What would be more efficient, randomly attending garage sales? Or search for one on eBay? Predictive analytics software, that automates analytics to empower your sales teams, has made sales easier just like eBay or Amazon Prime has made shopping easier. Predictive analytics enables you to measurably improve your sales velocity.

If you’re trying to grow sales, you need predictive analytics. If you want to predict what will get your patients (health systems) or members (health plans) to engage, you need predictive analytics. And if you want to develop a product that will be bought, that will be relevant, that will be the difference, you need predictive analytics. We live in the age of computing power, artificial intelligence, big data, and nanotechnology. There is predictive analytics software that be acquired incredibly cost-effectively. Why cast a wide net when you can spearfish inside a barrel? You might want to reach out to some trustworthy business associates of mine from Modern Analytics. But whatever happens, do something. Be proactive. Be part of the solution. Be bold. Because if you don’t, eventually, someone else will.