3 Ways Business Intelligence Can Improve Your Sales and Marketing Efforts

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3 Ways Business Intelligence Can Improve Your Sales and Marketing EffortsWith today’s business intelligence dashboards, end users in every department of the organization have a more effective means of gaining greater insight into their side of the business without having to go back to IT or business analysts for more data. And that data in the hands of your sales and marketing team in particular can mean huge improvements for those departments.

Here are three ways business intelligence software can help improve your sales and marketing efforts.

Identify and focus on higher-profit customers.

Your best customer might not actually be the one who places the biggest order (although every sales team loves to land a “big fish”), but rather those dependable, repeat customers who consistently place good sized orders. With business intelligence software, you can rank your customers based on the recency, frequency, and value of their purchases to determine exactly who the best customers are. And once you build an accurate profile of those most-profitable customers, you can better focus your marketing efforts to target similar prospects.

It makes sense to seek prospective customers that have similar attributes and to focus your customer acquisition efforts on adding them to the fold.  With a little imagination and good business intelligence software in place, you can begin by implementing simple measures to enable you to rank your current customers according to their relative value to your organization. Initially, try ranking them by profit contribution alone, then you can add more sophisticated factors later, if you choose (timely payment, returns, complaints, etc.).

Once you’ve arranged customers from high to low value, you can do two powerful things right off the bat. First, you can better target your customer-acquisition initiatives by focusing your customer-acquisition efforts around the attributes common to high-value customers. Second, you can begin to engineer your overall customer mix by targeting high-value replacements for low-value customers.

Increase the accuracy of sales forecasts.

Information concerning future revenue answers the questions of ”what” you’re going to sell, “to whom” you’re going to sell it, and “when” you will make the sale. When it’s accurate and timely, this information has immense business value.  Industry studies have found that an improvement in forecast accuracy produces significant downstream improvements such as perfected order fill rates, reduced inventory levels, and higher profit margins.

By leveraging the insights provided by business intelligence software, marketing and sales teams can improve the accuracy of their forecasts by accommodating for seasonal demand, product promotions, slow-moving items, causal variables, outliers and much more. The forecasting burden can be considerably eased and the reliability of the forecast much improved when the right information is at hand to support the underlying analysis. BI tools give decision makers ready access to information that provides a detailed portrait of sales history. Easy and direct access to historical sales information supports both forecast accuracy and better, faster procurement and inventory decisions.

Measure the effect of your marketing programs.

BI software can also help you easily plan, monitor and assess the success of your promotional activities to see what marketing campaigns/promotions your customer base is reacting the best too. That way, marketing budgets can be shuffled and allocated to the more successful campaigns that produce the best possible ROI. For instance, if Promotion A generated $1000 in sales but cost the company $250, that program is not actually more cost-effective than Promotion B that generated $700 in sales but only cost $100 to run. By leveraging information from your BI system, you can maximize the revenue returned from each advertising dollar spent. By comparing actual to expected results by campaign, you can “market” smarter and better identify opportunities to increase sales and growth.

According to Aberdeen Group, effective use of business intelligence by the sales and marketing team can lead to improved customer retention rates, higher revenues from up-sell/cross-sell campaigns, and enhanced levels of customer satisfaction. And at the end of the day happy customers mean more revenue for your company.

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This post was written by Pat Hennel