Business Intelligence Reporting: How to leverage BI to drive sales

“Data will talk if you’re willing to listen to it.” – Jim Bergeson

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With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics having just wrapped up, it seems only fitting to call to mind the importance of data in both sports and sales. Much like how Olympians with their trainers take advantage of Performance Analysis to improve decision-making to enhance their performance, sales teams have a similar tool at their disposal: Business Intelligence, or BI, drives salespeople to olympic-level selling.

What is BI (Business Intelligence) reporting?

There’s no way around it: These days, companies need big data. They thrive on it; the deeper they dig to find out what has been happening and how it’s happened, the more insight they have as to the “why’s” — and the more informed they become for future deals. In fact, according to Germany-based database company Statista, almost 53% of surveyed global organizations had adopted big data technology, with another 38% reporting intent to adopt it in the near future.

Business Intelligence reporting refers to the process of using modern tools to harness critical data, create reports, and analyze data to create actionable insights — in other words, data sets that tell meaningful actions that can be taken based on data.

Why is BI so important?

Business intelligence consists of a number of processes and methods of collecting and analyzing data. Analysts can leverage BI to provide guidance on how to make sales and marketing — and, in fact, the whole company — run more efficiently. With so many companies already implementing these practices, reporting and business intelligence has become critical to win against competitors — particularly in the B2B industry.

BI reporting benefits

Let’s have a glance at just how in particular BI reporting tools can benefit a company:

1. Increased workflow speed: Centralizing the data force minimizes knowledge delay between teams.
2. Enhanced data quality: Not only does BI determine which data are critical but there’s typically a real-time dashboard to access data at any time.
3. Analysis of customer behavior and market trends: Customers are more selective and informed than ever. Business intelligence reports reveal customer values, demands, pain points, and activities.
4. Optimized operations and forecasting: Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence identify KPIs to adopt and strategize.
5. Problem detection: Let’s face it— human mistakes are unavoidable. Data analytics and AI, though, have much less room for error, and can catch issues otherwise unseen.
6. Keeps decision-makers informed: Using thorough data, BI reports help execs, leaders, and sales reps alike make educated decisions about processes or next steps in sales.

The list doesn’t end here; business intelligence tools have almost limitless possibilities according to each team’s needs and the tool’s specifics.

Common BI reporting challenges

Despite increasing investment in big data and AI, and despite more and more companies incorporating business intelligence, many are still failing in their efforts to become data-driven, according to a 2019 study by Harvard Business Review.

While the benefit of business intelligence reporting is undeniable, some common challenges can prevent the data from being used efficiently, such as:

  • Not having a sufficient or sufficiently trained data science team,
  • Lack of universal adoption of the data tool initiative across departments,
  • Letting data become siloed within the tools; in other words, when it becomes limited to certain stakeholders, none of whom see a picture of what’s happening across the organization,
  • Inconsistencies across platforms that make it difficult to create accurate dashboards or access all of the information, or;
  • Manual data entry being necessitated due to the above issues, which sort of negates some of the conveniences of automation, right?

It’s important for cooperating teams to work out these kinks together to ensure smooth sailing.

BI reporting examples

Wow, that’s a lot of advantages and challenges to weigh! It would probably be easier to visualize the direct effects of BI with some business intelligence reports examples. It’s time to take a look at the specific functions these programs have to offer. Yet please remember that not all programs will be able to accomplish all of these things!

Cross-platform integration:

BI tools with cross-platform integration can find, record, and report data from other applications. This way sales reps don’t have to constantly interrupt their workflow to switch between programs to find or compare data. In this way the embedded BI tool allows people to find insights and make decisions faster.

Cross-device access:

Data can be accessed anywhere: on the go via a smartphone, during a meeting with stakeholders, or from home on a laptop. Information can be shared even when offline and will be synced later on. With today’s fast-paced sales environment, users need to have important information at their fingertips anywhere, anytime, or anyplace.

Dashboards:

Good business intelligence reporting should incorporate dashboards, which are interactive data visualization tools that sort information to make it easier to understand and collaborate. Dashboards also track key performance indicators to help correctly assess which processes are working — or which aren’t.

Data analytics:

While some platforms may just focus on data collecting and organizing, others take it a step further by analyzing this data with artificial intelligence. Machine learning takes sales a step beyond human intuition to automate tasks or even suggest the next best action to move a deal further.

Static reporting and alerts:

These are important ways for users to stay on top of their pipeline and, when necessary, act swiftly. Alerts specific to a team or organization’s needs can be set up based on real-time data. Stakeholders can also easily create and share static reports in common document formats.

Best practices: How to achieve a good BI report

With the right tools, a good BI report can be achieved with these factors in play:

  • The right metrics being used
  • Constant data monitoring
  • Defining stakeholders of the report
  • Willingness to learn and adapt
  • Establishing a data-driven culture across the organization

Choosing the right BI tool

Armed with all this knowledge, it’s time to choose a weapon in your fight for data efficiency! Well, a business intelligence platform, at least.

Every business has its own specific needs, so consider a few questions while selecting a product.

  • Does it integrate well with other tools already in play that will continue to be used?
  • Does it use and can it be accessed by multiple sources?
  • Is it self service? In other words, can it be used without always needing data team management?
  • Can data storage like the cloud warehouse in use accommodate the new data solution?
  • Is it easy to create ad hoc reports and analyses for those who aren’t data science experts?

For anyone not sure of where exactly their data needs start and end, it might be a good idea to try an all-encompassing business intelligence software that boasts all the necessary basics laid out above. Revenue Grid is a single source of truth for sales data needs, offering cross-platform integration, data visualization, actionable insights, forecasting, and much, much more.