Predictive Analytics for B2B Sales: 5 Things You Should Know

Interested in using predictive analytics within your sales system? You’re ahead of the pack.

According to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Sales report, only 19% of sales leaders currently use predictive analytics, but Salesforce predicts that smart selling technologies such as predictive analytics will jump 77% among high performers and more than 180% among underperformers within the next 12-18 months.
Predictive analytics are revolutionizing modern B2B sales operations. Read the answers to these 5 questions to get a solid foundation for finding the perfect sales analytics solution for your company (Consider this a “Predictive analytics for dummies” crash course):
1) What is predictive analytics?
Let’s start simple. In its most basic form, predictive analytics is the process of using historical data to make assumptions about future results.
2) How does predictive analytics work?
Typically, predictive analytics software is based on a big data analytics engine. Complex algorithms are used to parse vast amounts of data. In the context of sales, that means analyzing vast amounts of sales data (usually from sources like CRM and marketing automation platforms) to identify the common factors for winning deals.
3) Why should my business use predictive analytics?
Because it works. Predictive analytics transform sales forecasts from guesswork to science, drastically increasing accuracy and reliability. The insight gained from using predictive data means that you’ll learn new, more effective ways to improve your sales process. Last but not least, predictive analytics happen in the background, surfacing guidance automatically so that you don’t have to spend time reviewing clunky CRM reports.

Analytics Meets Enablement: Best-in-Class Sales Processes that Win Download the knowledge brief

4) How can predictive analytics be used by sales teams?
There are tons of different ways predictive analytics tools and software can help sales teams succeed. Here are a few of the most effective options:
Lead scoring and prioritization

When you know which deals are the most likely to close, you can ensure that sales reps are spending their time on the right opportunities.

Sales process optimization

When you know which activities and content lead to more closed deals, you can structure your sales process for repeatable success.

Accurate sales forecasting

When sales opportunities are scored and weighted based on historical success rather than gut feelings, managers can be confident in their forecasts.

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5) What should I look for in a predictive analytics solution?
That definitely depends on what you’re trying to achieve, but as a general rule, there is some functionality you should consider to be essential: 
The ability to pull in data from multiple sources

If you’re looking at predictive analytics software that only pulls data from one source, like CRM, it could be beneficial for your company. However, software that combines data from multiple sources, like email tracking, marketing automation software, sales training platforms, etc., can create far better insight than one relying on a single data source.

Insight that’s actually actionable

This stretches into the realm of prescriptive analytics, but it’s definitely worth saying: if your predictive analytics tools don’t give you an easy way to act upon the predictive analysis, those tools aren’t worth much. For example, if the solution tells you that a certain presentation is perfect for a prospect, it should offer the ability to send it to that prospect right then and there.

Data visualization

Why settle for analytics software that outputs the data analysis in a boring table or basic chart when you can get advanced data visualization? Choose a solution that transforms data into a super clear picture for your sales reps so that they can tell in seconds exactly what they need to do to move a deal forward.

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Hopefully this sales analytics starter guide has given you useful insight for your analytics software purchasing decision, but if you still have more questions, we have answers!
Give us a call to talk with one of our sales enablement experts about how we transform the sales process through data-driven technology. You can also schedule a demo to see the predictive analytics at work within our sales enablement platform.