Connecting the dots between purchasing data and sales activity

26 July, 2016


We hear a lot about "big data" - large sets of customer information that can be analysed and leveraged to help organisations sell more effectively. It seems a foregone conclusion that this kind of data analytics is only for the big players. But any B2B company, no matter how large or small has potential customer insights locked in their disconnected CRM, Accounting and ERP systems. So how do smaller organisations connect the dots between customer purchasing data and sales activity?

1. Get this customer data into Salesforce CRM

The first step is to bring all of this data into your Salesforce CRM system. Salesforce has pre-built connectors to popular accounting and ERP systems like Xero and Unleashed, making it easy for customer sales data to push into the CRM. Even if the system you're running doesn't have a pre-built Salesforce connector, as long as it has an open API it can be integrated with a bit more development work.

Once the connection is made, reps will see a single view of each account in Salesforce. When engaging with customers in the office or out on the road, they'll have full order history and current customer pricing at their fingertips.

2. Put logic around the data

If you know what your customers have purchased, when they purchased it and how much they spent, you can run rules in Salesforce to:

  • Tier accounts based on spend
  • Uncover buying patterns and trends
  • Identify upsell / cross sell opportunities

3. Deliver actionable insights for sales and account service teams

Once you've put logic around your sales data, Salesforce can generate custom "account insights" for reps to review before each call. The system can also alert reps when something on the account may need attention. For example:

Tier customer accounts based on spend

Once you know what an account is spending, this can affect what kind of call cycle key accounts should go on. An account spending $10,000 per year shouldn't receive the same level of attention as an account spending $1m.

Putting accounts on defined service plans based on spend helps account managers prioritise their time and gets them working in a rhythm with the system identifying who should be called on next.

Uncover buying patterns and trends

If a customer always places large orders in February, your reps should be in touch in January to try to proactively maximise this order. If a customer spent huge last quarter but has died off this quarter, the account may be at risk of leaving for a competitor. These alerts are critical to ensure reps are in touch with the right account at the right time with context.

Identify cross sell / upsell opportunities

If you can see a customer is spending a lot on product category A, but very little in product category B, there's an opportunity to cross sell category B. If they're spending just short of what's required for the account to move to the next pricing discount tier, the rep should be alerted to incentivise the client to increase their spend.

Customers don't want their account managers to be reactive order-takers. They want them to be a proactive partner, helping them identify challenges and opportunities that they didn't know they had. Companies that adopt this approach will not only grow their revenue through proactive account management, but truly differentiate on service in an ever more price-sensitive market.