How Sales Can Stay on Top of the Customer Buying Cycle

January 16, 2012 - 3 minutes read

Customer Retention ToolsIn this post we look at solving the critical business problem of managing the customer buying cycle, and how tools – simple to advanced – can help sales people support their customers.

In a repeat run rate business, customers are buying many categories of products and replenishing supplies and inventory on a weekly basis. With so many transactions from customer orders that reps must contend with, it is easy to forget about the customers who are NOT ordering, who are ordering less, or who are not ordering the core high-value products any more.

While we are a predictive analytics company and have a solution to offer here, we also explore with customers and prospects who are starting out this question: What is the right fit for their needs? Here are three options in the order of features, scale and cost, with pros and cons we’ve discussed with our clients:

SALES PROCESS SOFTWARE

Primarily focuses on mechanically guiding rep actions through a rules engine: “call today … email next week … follow-up in 3 days.” Stand-alone or blends with CRM.

Pros: Most simple/easy to follow, ideal for a small team within a larger sales force.

Cons: Does not consider customer attributes and responses or historical sales data, and is not predictive.

MARKETING AUTOMATION SOFTWARE

Tracks frequency of contacts for communication, which is another way to stay on top of the buying cycle.

Pros: Maps to a pre-thought-out contact strategy, multi-channel, captures customer preferences and responses, and increasingly sophisticated. Ideal for 50-100 reps.

Cons: No historical sales data used, is not predictive, cannot blend external data, may not incorporate sales rep actions, does not identify cause and effect.

PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS SOFTWARE

This niche fits what we do. It is the most costly of the three because of data consolidation, involving expert statisticians with domain expertise, etc. But this process can scale indefinitely, it is predictive, and it can prove generation of incremental sales.

Pros: Support multiple sales channels, extensive data crunching, most accurate, provides cause/effect drivers. Ideal for 200+ reps, integrates with CRM seamlessly, best ROI.

Cons: Generally more expensive, more time to calibrate and start using, involves more people and technology (need expertise).

So there you have it. While we sell the hammers, aka predictive analytics software, we don’t see every problem as a nail that needs to be pounded. These tools all have a place in the sales arsenal, so take the time to determine what’s right for your organization.