How Business Analysts Can Identify and Reduce Sales Gaps
Business analysts work with a variety of teams, companies and employers. In some cases, they work in-house and other times as contractors, improving one department or aspect of business. Either way, you need business analysts reviewing your sales process.
Here is how your BA can help you close your sales gaps and optimize your team’s performance.
Why Should Business Analysts Care About The Sales Process?
Sales is a high-pressure field, with the focus on moving leads down the pipeline and closing deals. Business analysts offer an objective view of the process so sales people can see bottlenecks throughout the buyer funnel.
Most salespeople don’t have time to track all of their efforts, leads and activities, writes Warren Kurzrock, CEO of sales training consultancy Porter Henry. However, without consistent monitoring, it is impossible to know where their weaknesses. Businesses analysts work to resolve this. They can implement data tracking solutions that make it easier to review performance and can take time to offer a critical eye into a salesperson’s day-to-day tasks.
“If you are going to improve your win/loss ratio, it’s very important that you understand your prior performance throughout the sales cycle,” says John Kearney, director of market strategy at management and venue sourcing solutions provider Aventri. “Analyzing this performance through the lens of data analysis allows you to spot patterns or trends that may have relevance to why your opportunities end up as a win, a loss, or a no decision.”
Reviewing the sales process and pain points of a team can keep employees motivated and eager to sell — a challenge many companies face when it comes to lead generation and conversion. The motivation of your sales team can affect productivity, your bottom line and even your overall company culture, notes Matthew Cook, CEO of SalesHub.
Conduct a Gap Analysis in Your Sales Process
The first step to improve your sales process through analysis is to conduct a gap analysis. This is the process of reviewing your resources and processes and predicting how they will scale into the future.
“When identifying gaps in your department, you need to ensure that your goal and your current state exist in the same time period,” writes Catherine Yochum, a consultant at ClearPoint Strategy. “So if your future goal is three years out, you need to extrapolate your current state out for three years to see the appropriate gap.” This will help you determine whether or not your current operations are sustainable and what resources you will need to maintain or improve upon your efforts in the future.
If you’re looking for a place to start, Template.net has 20 gap analysis examples you can download. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when reviewing sales performance, but can use these guides to help you navigate through the process.
The good news is that this analysis doesn’t necessarily mean bad news for your company.
“After going through the first phase of analysis — performance versus potential — you may find that your results exceed expectations,” explains Aaron Orendorff, editor in chief at Shopify Plus. “In those cases, the aim changes from finding problems to identifying success factors that can be repeated, applied to other areas of your business, and ultimately scaled.”
Identify Why Leads Grow Cold
As business analysts find sales gaps and problems, they can start to dig deeper to better understand the rate at which leads are lost and why they are lost in the first place.
B2B marketing professional Amanda Nielsen at New Breed Marketing writes that businesses can assign value to leads to determine the likelihood of a sale. By tracking the percent of leads that move on to the next stage of the sales funnel (and comparing the ratio of lost prospects), you can see where you lose the vast majority of your potential customers. Lead levels include:
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). Leads that the marketing team decides have potential and are worth the investment.
Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). Leads that the sales team identifies as ready for direct outreach.
Opportunities. Leads actively engaged in sales conversations.
Opportunities turn into customers, and then into brand advocates or ambassadors.
Many of the lost leads that fall through the cracks could have been prevented. In an article for Teamgate, Brendan Harding says the top reasons why leads get cold include:
The first response by the company is too slow.
The company website is vague, slow, or not mobile-friendly.
There is no lead scoring strategy in place.
Salespeople approach leads with the wrong questions, propositions or information.
Sales teams don’t keep their promises of returned calls, follow up information or emails.
By identifying why you lose leads, you can take steps to close gaps in your sales process and invest in the right tools to keep people moving down the sales funnel. For example, you can invest in site improvement or a software tool that helps you manage leads so you respond more quickly to their enquiries.
You may also discover that particular channels are weaker than others. Jonathan Morse, founder and CEO of Tripleseat Software, reports that 28 percent of phone group sales queries are ignored or abandoned. This occurs when calls aren’t returned or no one is in the sales office to answer the call. If your team can win back even half of those lost leads, you will see a major impact in your sales numbers.
Learn About the Pain Points in Your Sales Staff
Along with reviewing the performance of your sales teams, business analysts will also talk with your employees to learn about their pain points. These people may feel more comfortable opening up to a third party rather than coming to you with problems.
Dan Tyre has a great resource for BAs to review at Hubspot. He poses six questions teams can ask when they’re reviewing their operations to better understand why they work the way they do. Some of these open-ended questions include:
What is the biggest factor preventing company growth?
What does your boss obsess about? It’s important because this is the person who dictates how time and money is spent.
What tasks and requirements take up the biggest parts of your day?
What makes your job harder than it needs to be?
While everyone has issues at work, BAs can notice patterns within a company and see where individual problems differ from operations patterns that need improvement.
In some cases, the problems might actually stem from tools added in a bid to help the sales process.
“The tools sales teams use today are changing fast,” writes Jason Levy, sales system architect at digital marketing and sales innovation agency Revenue River. “If the process is confusing to the sales team it will inevitably cause a reduction in efficiency.” In an attempt to streamline, you can over-optimize or confuse the whole process. However, you will never know unless someone is there reviewing the process and how your office functions.
“Usually salespeople face two troubles: lack of knowledge in sales, or lack of knowledge about the product or service they are selling,” the team at Closer Bot writes. “When a salesperson does not get the necessary sales training – the sales outcome will suffer.”
By investing in your team through training and cross training and showing that you care about them (and not just their performance metrics) you can build a cadre of sales people eager to close the deal.
Develop Plans to Improve and Replicate Your Sales Efforts
Identifying gaps and roadblocks is only the first step in optimizing your sales process. Sales teams need to actively look to improve their operations through set processes if they want to meet their goals and grow the business.
“The whole point of having a sales process is to do what works over and over again,” Brian Kavicky, vice president at sales training and management consultancy Lushin, writes. “Most sales managers do not spend enough time managing to the process to really understand where things are going wrong and why.”
The team at Lucidchart says business analysts and sales teams need to be “strategically idealistic” in their goal setting and benchmarking. They need to determine the levels at which a company should be performing and the steps the organization needs to take to reach those levels. While BAs want to push their teams, they don’t want to make recommendations that are impossible to meet.
Along with making strategic recommendations, BAs and sales managers need to be aware of the potential consequences of their decisions — and need to evaluate how their plans roll out.
Data scientist William Koehrsen recently explained the concept of Goodhart’s Law and how it affects data analytics. The basic principle is that employees will reach whatever goals you set for them, but there may be unintended consequences to this effort.
He uses the example of a call center that is told to increase its number of daily calls. The staff immediately doubled its call volume, pleasing management, but it meant that the CSRs were short, rude, and quick to move customers along. Those secondary effects hurt the business.
Business analysis is a process. A BA may make recommendations and set goals but then adjust them three, six, or even 12 months are they are implemented. Through their insights, sales teams can lose fewer leads, generate higher-quality sales and ideally enjoy their work environment more.