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Know more, win more: harnessing business intelligence can be key to profit and sales. Here are a few practical ways to do it.

In a recent business survey, enterprise software provider Deltek found that 40 per cent of senior decision makers put "winning new business" as their number one day-to-day professional concern.

To increase revenue these business leaders could always throw more resources at their sales department. But there is an easier, more cost effective way to find a new client to partner with.

Wisdom within

If your business is involved in offering professional services– for example, if you own a management consultancy, accountancy, marketing agency or a law firm – then you’ll already have some sort of resource and financial reporting system in place, if only to make sure you are billing accurately.

But the way you log and access this core business information and intelligence can also play a key role in growing your business. It can provide you with the valuable knowledge you need to improve customer satisfaction, uncover new opportunity and strengthen bonds with existing customers.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction relies on delivering what you promise, when you promise it; and this in turn relies on knowing the type of resources that are available within your company at any given time.

In essence, your resource management data holds the key to putting proposals together that are based on fact, not assumption. Managers therefore need access to accurate, real-time information about project plans, holiday schedules, third party resources (e.g. contractors), materials, and expected delivery times. This will give a snapshot of what can realistically be achieved by your company. 

Business opportunity

As well as assisting with sales proposals, sharing business intelligence through collaborative working can be used to identify sales opportunities. This involves your marketing, sales, finance, account management teams having access to, and updating, the same business management system (otherwise known as ERP) across the entire company.

There are dozens of scenarios where collaborative working can lead to increased revenue. A director, for example, might win a new contract after identifying a consultant who has the relevant skills for a client’s particular requirement.

Ensure you use your ERP system as the hub of all information, so your business development team can employ a joined up thinking approach.

Sales vision

Business data can really come into its own in providing foresight for your new business planning. Understanding which sectors to focus your sales efforts on and specialise in should be based on historical analysis of margins, win rates, percentage of turnover trends, and market intelligence – in fact, any information about customers can be used to personify your ideal target market. What’s important is that it’s all been centrally logged in an accessible and system.

This will allow you to create a character based on this data and your sales and marketing teams are able to visualise who it is they are directing their efforts at.

This is a basic, yet useful exercise to undertake. It not only allows your sales team to streamline their efforts towards identifying new, potential customers; it also helps build better bonds with existing ones.

Business Intelligence for organic and acquisitive growth

Your business intelligence may not be the first place you think of when looking to boost sales revenue, but it could be the fastest, simplest and most cost effective. So, if you’re like 40 per cent of decision makers who have "winning new business" on their minds, look to centralise and harness the cross-departmental information you already have to win new contracts and customers - both organically and acquisitively.

Neil Davidson is the managing director of Deltek UK Ltd, a leading provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms.

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