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In today's B2B environment, there is an increasing demand for advanced data analytics – from price optimization to predictive sales analytics – to help improve financial performance and strengthen relationships with customers.

With tens of thousands of products and customers, hundreds of sales reps, market volatility and competitive pressures, B2B companies are faced with an increasing amount of decision complexity. As a result, B2B decision makers are beginning to realize that pricing and sales analytics are no longer optional. They’re considered critical to help companies run their business more effectively and realize higher profits and revenues.

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As more companies adopt advanced analytics, there are three key trends to keep an eye on in 2015 and beyond. 

Move from predictive to prescriptive analytics. In the past few years, predictive data solutions available in the cloud grew dramatically, enabling B2B companies to glean insights from their data about “what is likely to happen.” However, as decision complexity in the sales environment increases, sales managers need to provide sales reps with tactics that are most likely to improve their effectiveness in growing and retaining existing customers. Moving forward, analytics solutions need to go one step further and provide prescriptive guidance, answering the question “what should we do.” Prescriptive guidance can provide answers to everyday sales decisions, such as which customers to call, what products to pitch and what prices to quote.

Rise of the Chief Growth Officer. As more analytics tools and strategies are implemented, more B2B companies will begin formalizing a position for the Chief Growth Officer (CGO). The role has yet to be solidified, but the CGO’s long-term strategy will need to include a plan for organic growth as well as the processes to make it part of the company’s culture. CGOs will need the right analytics tools to translate their strategy into action in the field. To achieve organic growth – the most cost-effective source of revenue growth – CGOs need to enable sales reps to identify when each and every customer is at risk for defection or prime for wallet-share expansion opportunities.

Escalation of change-management challenges. As more B2B companies embrace advanced analytics to deliver prescriptive guidance to their frontline sales teams, their biggest challenge will be ensuring that sales reps adopt and use the decision guidance. This means that having a comprehensive change-management plan when deploying guidance to the sales team is more critical than ever. A successful change-management plan should include a training and frequent follow-up sessions to help sales teams understand how the adoption of the guidance will help them achieve the company’s business objectives and their individual goals.

Ultimately, a move toward prescriptive analytics and an effective implementation plan will enable B2B companies to improve their financial performance through smarter sales decisions that are consistent and aligned with business objectives.

Javier Aldrete has more than 16 years of experience applying advanced business intelligence and predictive analytics to solve business problems in multiple industries. As senior director of product management at Zilliant, Javier is responsible for the vision and roadmap of Zilliant’s sales optimization product offering. 

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