Big data is no longer an emerging concept; big data is here and has impacted all businesses in the modern market.
With ever increasing volumes of data, sales analytics and business intelligence, software is essential in helping maximise business and sales opportunities. Sales analytics software helps managers report on their sales processes more accurately and gain insight into their customer's buying behaviours, to adapt better to the needs of the market. Analytics reports are of particular importance as they give decision-makers key insights that will directly influence the business' strategic direction.
Overall, sales analytics software is changing how we measure and view valuable data and ultimately, how well you sell.
There are a few different ways sales managers and decision makers can gain insight and clarity which vary in effectiveness.
Option 1: Excel Spreadsheets
Although technically Excel is not classified as "sales analytics software," it is most commonly used in businesses where analytics are not present. With Excel, businesses need to export data into spreadsheets and manually create a set of reports. Excel is quite widespread and thus many are familiar with its style and process.
Simple reports can be done by anyone with a basic understanding of Excel, but complex reports involving several different variables or business processes will require someone with an advanced set of Excel skills. Additionally, it is important for this person to be highly detail-oriented and accurate as the chance for human error is high, even for a well-trained user.
The limitations to the Excel method are largely centered on the time it takes to create the reports. Complex Excel reports take quite a bit of time to create and due to compilation time, reports may be outdated by the time they are needed, thereby threatening data integrity. The main drawback of Excel is that it does not give you a real-time picture of your progress, especially if your sales process involves multiple online channels.
Option 2: ERP/CRM System Reports
This option involves multiple canned reports to choose from, depending on what you want to analyse; it is comprehensive and integrates well into sales systems.
Reports from these systems are based on real-time data and are therefore more accurate. However, ERP/CRM systems work well for basic reporting but ad-hoc reports tend to be more complicated. Not only will it require more time to generate, it will also require a person that is skilled with ERP and CRM reporting tools.
Generating detailed reports can involve unnecessary complexities as you may find yourself spending more time generating multiple reports to answer specific questions, only to result in a report that has become outdated by the time it is published.
Option 3: In-House Built Database
For example: Access, Crystal Reports and Cube. This option involves using an in-house legacy system. The major advantage of this system is the ability to completely tailor it to your needs and processes during design and implementation.
However, there are several limitations that come from this custom approach. The system and its functionality would typically be based on the business' current processes and the person who manages it. Modification, upkeep and usability are largely dependent on current processes as well. What happens when you need to update your business processes or the staff member responsible for it moves on?
Currently, we live in a world where there are always new technologies and new updates that you can leverage to improve the business. It is important to note that the system will need to be altered time and time again to incorporate these changes.
Maintenance and updates are not only expensive; too many adjustments can make the software sensitive and temperamental. Despite considerable money and time being devoted to the system, user satisfaction and uptake can be minimal if the system is difficult or frustrating to use.
Option 4: Business Intelligence Analytics
Business Intelligence is the newest member of the group and as such hasn't been as widely adopted as the others yet. However, it is easy use and the depth and variety of the reports available has made it a very popular choice for new buyers or those looking to update.
It addresses all the problems of the other systems by offering mobile, easily created and easily interpreted reports. Most Business Intelligence Analytics run off cloud computing and this makes it possible to access reports and keep them updated across all your devices while on the move.
The software also offers easy customisation of your reports - you tell it what you need to know and it responds. If new questions arise, you can get a clear answer quickly, without requiring an IT specialist.
Which Is Best?
The four sales analytics software options suit different businesses differently. When choosing your software think about your sales reporting needs. It's important to consider features of your reports such as interface, ease of use, flexibility, speed of creation and cost effectiveness.
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