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CEOs, are you paying attention to your data analysts?

Sharon Resheff
AuthorSharon Resheff

You can’t run a profit making enterprise without an effective customer acquisition and customer retention mechanism. The CEO needs to be paying attention [to this] all the time. The reality is that many CEOs are out of touch.

So writes Frank V. Cespedes, a senior lecturer at HBR and an author of the HBR article, Selling After the Crisis. Cespedes also cites that more people than ever before are making it into the position of CEO without any kind of background in sales or marketing. And that the lack of knowledge and experience in these areas will hinder companies’ ability to grow and expand coming out of the current recession.

As a data analyst who helps teams grow by extracting insights from their sales and marketing data, I see it as my job to help executives remain in touch and deepen their knowledge of their selling cycle, from when they launch a promotional campaign, to how they price their products. I see firsthand the benefit and impact on the top and bottom line, when data is leveraged to learn hidden business truths and used to make potent marketing and sales decisions.

A good example of this was when I was working on a KPI dashboard for a marketing organization that managed a sales rep incentives program. It was common knowledge that one rep accounted for a majority of the sales, and as such had some degree of ‘leverage’ in negotiating its sales incentives. However, by looking at both the sales volume, the customer acquisition cost, and the conversion rate on this rep’s accounts, and benchmarking that performance with other reps, it became apparent that they were underperforming where it really mattered – converted customers.

This knowledge helped my client engage in informed discussions with the rep and justifiably push back on the rate increases the rep requested. Instead, a plan to improve customer acquisition costs and conversion rates was discussed and implemented.   Executives: how often do you call on your data analysts to facilitate your understanding of your sales cycle when making business decisions? I’m curious to hear from those who do and don’t.