Sales Analysis

Sales analysis isn't rocket science, although a supportive friendly attitude and a good help system are essential. The trickiest part of the analysis is getting accurate figures. If a customer's data is held on a CRM system, the orders are taken on a Web page (intranet or otherwise) and the accounts software produces the invoices automatically. How are you going to make sure the right salesperson is credited? When a customer returns an item, will your system recalculate? Integration of key data between different systems needs careful consideration from the outset—you'll need to be able to do this just to calculate sales commissions if nothing else.

Sales analysis may appear to be something of a dark art to newcomers. Reviewing individual performances is straightforward. Individual targets should always be graded against their experience, salary, and commissions levels. These should be adjusted to encourage them to achieve higher goals and reap bigger rewards. These should not be unrealistic or unachievable. Otherwise, failure is inevitable and all you are doing is reinforcing it.

Managers who expect continuous, exponential growth from their sales team are fantasists. Sales is like surfing. There are peaks and troughs. The management trick is to motivate through the troughs and keep the peaks profitable. What you are looking for are patterns in sales achievements; you need to be able to break down customers by market group, size, geographical location, and so on. This can provide you with insights into which market it is more profitable to concentrate on.

Here's a set of questions to ask potential customers, politely, if you can:

♦ Does the requirement actually exist?

♦ Who is responsible for this purchase?

♦ Has the budget for it been agreed on?

♦ What are the key expectations?

♦ Are there any likely delays?

♦ What are the key motivations for this purchase?

♦ Have dates been set for delivery and payment?

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