Predictive Analytics and the Sales Process

Predictive Analytics and the Sales Process

by Jeremy Unruh | October 21, 2016

Though many modern marketers and business executives have heard of and understand terms like data analysis, big data, data mining, predictive analytics, and the like; there are still many professionals that have heard the terms, yet don’t understand them.

However, predictive analytics is something that all professionals should strive to understand.

Predictive analytics can offer businesses a simple way to increase revenue while decreasing risks and costs.

Predictive analytics is the use of data gathered through:

  • Machine learning,
  • Statistics,
  • Data mining, and
  • Modeling

… to clarify what has happened in the past. In theory, studying these patterns can predict future behaviors in many cases. However, some experts believe that predictive analytics still aren’t an exact science. Harvard professor Gary King believes that,

“statistical prediction is only valid in sterile laboratory conditions, because the number of environmental variables and human responses to those variables is inherently unpredictable.”

However, criticism aside, results speak for themselves.

Businesses in dozens of industries are seeing results from the study of predictive analytics. It seems studying data can support some degree of future buying behavior and decision-making, though maybe not all.

In addition, as technology becomes more proficient, predictive analytics programs gain increased speed and ability to carry out projects.

A Modern Tool that Greatly Improves the Traditional Sales Process

Most sales professionals are familiar with the traditional sales process. It typically consists of steps like:

  • Gaining product knowledge,
  • Prospecting,
  • Approaching,
  • Assessing needs,
  • The presentation,
  • The close, and
  • The follow-up

Predictive analytics improves just about every step of the traditional sales process except the first step of gaining product knowledge. That, the sales professional will have to complete on his or her own. However, predictive analytics:

  • Gives sales professionals incredible insights on who their best prospects are likely to be,
  • Gives them tips about the most effective ways to approach prospects,
  • Helps them assess a potential client’s needs even before the approach,
  • Tells them what presentation methods will work best with each potential client,
  • Helps them understand when and how to close a sale, and
  • Does a great deal to automate, yet personalize the follow-up process.

In addition, predictive analytics helps marketing and sales teams work hand-in-hand when it comes to making contact with prospects and nurturing leads.