Sales operations reporting was traditionally only performed by practical sales managers, vying to validate the fruits of their labour (or at least justify their own salaries). Often, the types of analysis undertaken were simple and short sighted, usually demonstrating how their actions led to good results in the previous quarter, and rarely, if at all, investigating underperformance.
“They [Sales Operations] are often entrusted to represent the needs of the sales organization in meetings and cross-functional projects.”
More and more companies are creating sales operations departments within their organizations. The established sales and reporting processes are considered to be a vital contributor to business operations and accounting functions, with the operations team advocating for sales to other parts of the organization such as finance, marketing, legal and IT departments. They are often entrusted to represent the needs of the sales organization in meetings and cross-functional projects.
As the amount of information required for good reporting and insight increases, often due to the need to enable forecasts and planning, the need for a sales operations rock-star role has increased in tandem: meet the sales analyst.
“The challenges posed to simply achieving a spreadsheet with no errors, ensure that no one has the time to really deliver insightful sales analytics.”
In our increasingly fast-paced world, it can seem like the analytics and reporting systems many organizations rely on for sales and CRM analytics are too inflexible and slow. Data-whiz sales analysts spend most of their time merely ensuring that sales data is accurately collected and attempting to update ancient forecast spreadsheets. Too often we see organizations trying to manipulate a spreadsheet which was created at a time when the company only sold 15 product SKUs in North America, but has ended up as a behemoth involving all 130 SKUs and custom payment terms for their 1,000+ customers across the globe.
At Quantrix, we have worked with a large number of sales operations teams to deliver insightful sales analytics, and along the way, we have identified the main hurdles to achieving better sales insights. I’ve outlined each of them in more detail below.
Easy access to the right data
With the ever-growing mountains of data available from CRMs, ERPs, Finance and Marketing systems (the list goes on…), analysts are frequently requiring the ability to combine large datasets to gain new insights. Sadly, the legacy tools used in most organizations are inadequate for the scale and complexity needed to drive insight. Luckily, Quantrix makes the process of importing data easy. With simple drag-and-drop tools, and no need for scripting or IT support, analysts can quickly connect to internal data-sources and cloud-based CRMs such as Salesforce® using pre-built connectors. This unparalleled speed and agility frees up precious time for good analysis to take place.
Automate repetitive tasks
The ability to automate repetitive tasks, such as data import, streamlines processes across the organization. Access to the most up-to-date information for any user of the system means that organizations are no longer reliant upon a limited group of employees with the ability to perform critical data exports and consolidations.
Embrace user buy-in
User buy-in is an often-overlooked aspect of any decision to improve internal processes. The ability to provide self-service analytics in an intuitive dashboard, as well as the ability to drill down further into the data supporting the analysis, provides board members, executives, managers (and almost any other relevant function within the business), with a better understanding of the cogitations of the analysis – this understanding and transparency inevitably leads to a characteristic feeling of trust of the figures shared within an organization. With everybody using the ‘single-source-of-truth’, companies are able to exploit market opportunities and capitalize on consensus-based decisions backed by analysis.
Exploit multidimensional modeling
You’ve got the data and you know the questions you need to answer, but how can you appropriately structure your analysis to be flexible and scalable, yet robust? We live in a multidimensional world, with organizations operating across multiple region and multiple currencies, selling a variety of products. Your models need to reflect this – analysis needs to allow for any number of different scenarios, so you’re never left wondering ‘what if?’
Businesses aren’t static, they’re evolving entities, constantly changing the products they offer and the ways in which they sell these products. Ensure your model is flexible enough to adapt to these changes as they happen, with minimal effort (and ideally automate this)!
By James Kipling, Product Manager, Quantrix
Register for our upcoming webinar where we discover the benefits of multidimensional modeling software, Quantrix, brings to sales operations. Register your place here.