Jeremy is Director of Marketing at Ambition, friend of Infer and guest blogger.
For sales professionals, time and money are one in the same. Ask any successful sales organization, and they’ll tell you that efficiency is the ultimate ally of a good sales process.
Matt Heinz preaches it. Lori Richardson preaches it. Dionne Mischler preaches it. Just yesterday, I spent a solid hour speaking with a Sr. Account Executive for an Enterprise SaaS company. The topic: Sales process adjustments his company made to increase efficiency, which cut his average sales cycle length in half.
Bottom line: If you’re not aggressively pursuing greater efficiency in your sales organization, here in 2015, you’re falling behind the curve and placing yourself at a disadvantage.
The Aerial Sales Offensive
The Harvard Business Review has likened my company’s software, Ambition, to “Fantasy Football for Sales.” As such, I’m inclined to analogize the emergence of predictive analytics with the most important innovation to occur in American football — the forward pass.
Like the forward pass, the demand for predictive analytics is spurred by a need for more efficient ways to accomplish key objectives, such as creating qualified leads, scheduling meetings with key decision-makers, and closing deals. The full potential of predictive analytics in this respect is downright staggering. Already, it’s dramatically easier for a sales organization to assess prospect interest, project weekly sales numbers, and offer key insights into how reps are trending in terms of performance. All via predictive analytics.
Erase predictive analytics from the equation, and you’re back to running a sales process of triple options and wing formations. You can close deals and score touchdowns, but they’ll take exponentially longer to accomplish than your competitor’s sales offense that works exclusively out of a shotgun spread.
Even worse, you’ll have more potential deals that make it 50 yards downfield and then just peter out. Field advantage doesn’t matter in sales, and you’re actually better off getting the equivalent of a three-and-out than spending the time it takes to advance 70 yards but fail to score.
That’s the beauty of predictive analytics solutions like Infer — it can tell you when a time-consuming, initially-enticing deal is a dud before your team takes the field. Even better, it can tell you how well a new prospect fits your ideal customer persona — removing time, cost, and potential for human error in the lead qualification process.
The Hidden X-Factor
An additional, very critical point about predictive analytics is its most underrated value-add: improving the engagement between sales and marketing teams.
Sales and Marketing professionals live in a world of numbers. As a Marketing Director, seeing that I’ve inbounded someone is great. Know what’s better? Seeing that the new inbound also has higher-than-average potential to become a new deal, given how well they match our buyer profile and how much they’ve engaged with our marketing site and content.
Ambition knows a thing or two about engagement, and we will attest that putting predictive analytics in front of an employee can make for much more engagement than merely having a leaderboard. For example, many of our clients’ sales teams run Fantasy Football-style weekly competitions based around overall team performance. What’s smack-dab in the middle of each week’s Matchup page? Final score projections.
Note that there’s not just a pre-game projection, but a real-time projection as well. The sales reps who use our products pay attention to the actual matchup score only 1 day a week. Monday through Thursday, they’re checking the projection.
Predictive in the Playbook
The new crop of game-changing sales enablement tools will automate and accelerate performance in ways we’ve never dreamed possible. Predictive analytics companies like Infer will be key players.
We’re entering unprecedented territory. Sales processes are more efficient, sales forces more engaged, and sales offensives more lethal – at least, for those who harness the power of predictive analytics.
Sales and Marketing strategists, it’s time to rewrite your playbook. The forward pass is now here.