Applying analytics to improve sales workflow

By Brian Thompson,

If you're asked to think about sales workflow, your mind might conjure up a picture that emphasizes fluidity. After all, the word "workflow" has a certain connotation of a process that is functioning smoothly without any hiccups. However, as sales chains expand and change marketing and transaction ecosystems, the traditional fluidity can be interrupted. Many organizations are running into difficulty developing the kinds of sales and marketing strategies that work in an environment heavily favored toward those that can optimize their omnichannel efforts. The Internet and mobile devices have helped usher in the era of the consumer, which can have far-reaching effects on sales performance. Analytics insights can help correct digitally driven imbalances and restore sales workflow to its former smooth sailing.

Traditionally, the sales workflow functions in fragments. Each team member knows his or her role and each department understands its responsibilities. The nature of most sales setups means that separate tasks often do not overlap. One team looks for leads, another develops the product and a third department manages the post-transaction relationship. Increasingly, this siloed approach can leave organizations with blind spots that can skew its sales objective and process. However, legacy management and analysis tools often lack the centralization or universal quality capable of corralling every part of the sales team into a unified force.

Eliminating the bumps in the road
Analytics can help close the gaps between different departments. Big data is here to stay and offers incredible potential for marketing and sales enhancement if organizations can apply it correctly. Centralizing analysis strategies is the most cost-effective and holistically beneficial way to use these powerful tools, wrote SmartData Collective contributor Julie Hunt. 

"Companies can benefit greatly from analytics that support initiatives that impact the entire organization and reveal solid business value," she wrote. "Centralizing advanced analytics should dynamically work to eliminate data silos in the organization and bring different perspective into the formulation of analytical models and a wider breadth of benefit to the overall organization."

Smoothing out the sales workflow
Ultimately, the smoothness apparent in the highest-performing sales and marketing efforts stems from it acting as a well-oiled machine. Conventional wisdom holds that each department operates more or less independently, with individual contributions serving the greater good, according to Information Management. The challenge for today's sales teams, and the opportunity to boost overall sales effectiveness, is to use emerging analytics tools to unite each team, making the whole better than the sum of its parts.

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Brian Thompson