The Growing Importance of Spatial Analytics

Our staff at Spiral Analytics has spent many years conducting analytics in the realm of operational, sales (and sales operations) and marketing analytics. Key Performance Indicators, powerful data visualizations, reports, and sales play book execution has been our focus, driving smart profits by creating a data-driven organization.

Geographic Data Capture is Exploding

As we get closer to 2020, the importance of spatial analytics is increasingly on the rise.  Why? Analytics are becoming more and more specialized with ever increasing data sets available.  These data sets have a huge chunk of information which was really hard to get for many years.  The consumer acceptance of the smartphone and social media has enabled a wealth of geographic data to hit the market.  As smartphones can be used for proximity awareness for ad targeting, businesses need to understand the geographic treasure chest of their data sets.

Layers of Data for Custom Models

Invest in Spatial AnalyticsWhether is the location data is an address, zip code, area code and/or gps coordinates, this data can be drive marketing strategy, consumer awareness and even help plan the next big growth model. Think about data with geographic reference as a layer.  New car brand buyer preference for instance, can be referenced with household income and credit scores on a map to help locate a new luxury car dealership.

Another example comes from Facebook.  The ability to target ads based on interest and location can save millions in poorly targeted online ads.  The rise of Facebook as an advertising engine enables a profound amount of functionality for no cost to the consumer.  The spatial analytics of their advertising engine is their business model.

Consequences of Not Going Spatial

The consequences of not investing in spatial analytics is wasted marketing spend, poorly built products which don’t solve a consumer’s problem, and a general blind fold when it comes to understanding your market.

We are prepared for your spatial analytics project using specially trained staff and the best spatial software out there, ArcGIS. Let us collaborate with you and help you take advantage of spatial analysis without the headache of setting up your own team.


Are You Ready for AI?

Are you ready for AI?Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming.  It is not a question of if, but when.  Are you ready?

While consumer AI is already in use by companies such as Netflix for movie/episode suggestions, very few companies have implemented AI.  A lot of companies claim to have AI and some offer AI solutions, be careful with what AI really means.

Artificial Intelligence refers to process automation, letting computer programs and hardware take over repetitive tasks.  Machine Learning is add-on to AI in respects of letting the machine learn from new data automatically.  AI can be enhanced through further human based programing.

AI Requirements

What does your company need for Artificial Intelligence?

To start, you need to identify one or more business processes which would add value to automate.  Start with the simplest and most repetitive tasks for your account managers, sales reps, and other operational employees.  Start with a task as simple as retrieving information needed to make a decision.  Many of our clients have discussed the concept of the virtual analyst, a robot like tool which dispenses insights instead of logging on to Tableau to retrieve.

Next, you need good data.  As the saying goes, data out is only as good as data in.  While data is never perfect, even in the most highly controlled environments, there needs to be a fair amount of stability.  While most AI can learn to deal with bad data, minimizing errors is key.

You will also need a good data science team.  You will need team players who can code using a variety of tools, such as Python and R.  You will also need resources familiar with the cloud as AWS offers many advantages, particularly for big data projects.  Even with a giant budget capable of purchasing off the shelf tools like IBM Watson and DataRobot, your data science team will bring the knowledge and experience needed to make these tools even better.

AI Suggestions

When getting started with AI, we have some suggestions.  First, start small.  It is far better to under-promise and over-deliver.  Start with a well focused use case which offers data stability and drives value to the organization. Something like the virtual analyst is a popular place to start.

Second, be flexible with your roadmap.  Count on delays, mistakes, and learnings throughout your implementation process.

Third, find a passionate, progressive executive to be your champion.  Having executive sponsorship not only helps to secure funding, but helps give the project visibility and defense at the highest level possible.  Having an executive on board helps tie the project to company wide goals.

Finally, be patient.  AI doesn’t happen overnight.  In fact, many of the most hi-tech and innovative companies with huge budgets are struggling with AI.  AI is possible, but there isn’t a well refined recipe available, yet.  Keep your eye on the prize and keep learning.

The first one to master true AI will have a huge advantage as the world of technology and analytics progresses.   It is a pretty sweet prize.


Let’s Discuss Data Rights

Data Rights and youData rights is becoming a topic we can’t avoid discussing any longer. With the rise of AI and algorithms, the data companies collect from us is now starting to be used, if I dare use the word, against us. We are in a digital economy which needs boundaries.

We need to start talking about data rights.

First, let’s understand what data companies collect. The last few EULA’s I read mentioned collecting data, but didn’t spell out exactly what data that was.

Second, we need to understand how they use this data. Are they just storing it? Doubt it. Are they using it to help target products to us? Are they using it to push us away from news? Inquiring minds want to know!

Third, who uses this data. It is one thing for an internal analyst to use an anonymized version to understand buying and usage patterns. However, it is something completely different for a company to sell/give the data to a 3rd party who then uses it in a variety of ways. Example: Alteryx buys a data dump of the Equifax data to resell to marketers. This is fine, as long as they are transparent.

Fourth, lastly, we need an opt out method. Just like unsolicited magazines and emails, consumers must have a choice. A choice beyond cancelling their account.

Let’s start the conversation and make it into a movement. I welcome your comments. Please use hashtag #datarights

Thank you!

Why We LOVE Alteryx

Alteryx Data BlendingAlteryx is a data blending tool.  Much like your Black & Decker blender makes short work of blending your favorite fruits and vegetables into your morning protein shake, Alteryx makes short work of disparate data sets. In fact, Alteryx loves the most horrible data you can throw into it!

There are a few more reasons why we love Alteryx:

  • Automatic Documentation – each tool module is easily readable and the step by step process breaks complex data transformation down to small bits.  If you are anal about documentation, you can also use a Comment box.
  • Colors – Using Comment boxes and Tool Containers, you can color code sections of your workflow to discern different data flows.
  • Data Everywhere – at the click of a button, you can pull in your nastiest of data and tame it.  Then, you can push it out to as many output as you want.  What the heck, in addition to Tableau, let’s put the data result out in Excel on three different network drives, push it to PowerBI and why not just drop it in a shared Google Doc.
  • Fast, Pretty Data – Alteryx can take horrible data and transform it into a thing of beauty in a matter of hours or days, not weeks or months.  If you are tired of waiting for your Business Intelligence team “to get around to it”, get Alteryx and sidestep them.
  • Analyst Style, Preserved – There are a number of different ways to do the same thing.  If you need to summarize your data, join it, pivot it, and do a few jumping jacks, the combination of tools allows for multiple solutions to the same problem.  Very much like Analysts love their VLookup or their Index/Match (both do the same thing), Alteryx lets the Analyst be who they are… and that translates to productive creativity.
  • Server Means Collaboration – Analysts across the company can save their workflows to a centralized enterprise server and access each other’s work.  They can even execute workflows.
  • Alteryx is just a great company. – I worked with Alteryx and am a former employee, so I might be a bit biased.  But, Alteryx is a great company.  The “Alteryx for Good” campaign gives back to the community.  They also make Alteryx free to qualifying non-profits.  Awesomeness!

If you haven’t explored Alteryx yet, do!  Don’t let the possibilities overwhelm you.  Take the time to research it and test it.   We guarantee you, you WILL love Alteryx as much as we do.

The Power of Sales Analytics

sales analytics with AlteryxThe Power of Sales Analytics is something every serious sales professional must understand. Sales Analytics is the lifeblood of every sales team, big or small.  The data-driven marketplace means teams must leverage their own data, 3rd party data, and do the digital due diligence to succeed.

The Power of Sales Analytics

There many ways which analytics drives success on the sales team:

  • Team Performance
    • well timed performance reports and scorecards across the sales hierarchy is a must
  • Productivity Insights
    • find out how many prospect touches it take on average to develop an opportunity
  • Account and Prospect Insights
    • who are you selling to, what solutions do they need, and where can you reach them
  • Correlation
    • find out the messaging and market relationships which drive your prospects
  • Marketing ROI and Messaging
    • what role does marketing play in leads, opportunities and revenue generation
  • Compensation Design
    • are you reps fairly compensated for the behavior which drives revenue
  • Territory Configuration
    • have you optimized your territories and set appropriate quota

Enabling Sales Analytics

Even before you can take advantage of the above, there are a few steps which the team must beholden before a true analytics program can succeed. These include:

  • Best practice data capture with your CRM (, Miscrosoft CRM, vTiger)
  • Understanding your sales journey and converting into stages and sales milestones
  • Establish a data-driven culture – reps, managers, and senior leadership must trust the data
  • Use the data to define compensation plans and territory configurations
  • Establish a regular pattern of data cleansing – your reports are only as good as the data you put in

With these concepts in mind, you can leverage the power of sales analytics.  We capture data everywhere. Not leveraging the data is a big mistake which is easy to make.  Whether you bring a team on-board internally, or outsource to a consulting like Spiral Analytics, there is no excuse for missing the power of sales analytics.

Update on Memberships and Content

As Saalun, a product of Spiral Analytics, comes up to speed, we wanted to provide this update on our progress.   We have been working away on creating content, but still have a little work to do.

Content, Courses, and Sales Learning

As an e-learning solution, Saalun’s core product are courses which teach different topics of sales analytics and sales best practices.  We are leveraging the Thinkific platform for these courses.  You can bookmark as content will appear there as we release course content.

We are also using SoundCloud for our Podcasts.  Please head over to our profile page and listen to our free content.

We have also created a Slack group called “Sales Hangout” for our members. You can get access by purchasing a set of courses, a membership, or paying a one time fee.  For early access at a reduced rate, please send an email to our email address.

To further your productivity, we offer a variety of downloads in PDF and Excel form to help you stay organized.  From our Daily Sales Planner to the Quarterly Quota Tracker, our templates are meant to be printed and filled in.  The Daily Sales Planner, for instance, is a daily worksheet any sales rep could use to manage their day, focusing on what matters.

We feel these three platforms are a great way to start and provide an immersive experience for the sales professional wanting to further their career, be the best on the team or even an analyst wanting to learn the specifics of sales.

Memberships and Pricing

Sales analytics university offers a variety of pricing and plans to fit any budget.  From a la carte options like attending an individual course to one time fee access to our Sales Hangout channel on Slack, users can mix and match our content to build a custom experience.

Alternatively, for a flat monthly or annual membership fee, you can have access to all courses and content.  This includes our full suite of courses on our Thinkific channel, early access to podcasts, access to Sales Hangout on Slack and discounts on downloads.

While exact pricing is still being developed, we are happy to announce an early 2018 release of all content.

In the meantime, signup for early access mailing list and stay up to date on events, progress, and news.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.



Top Sales Prospecting Tips

Sales prospecting is never fun. It usually means cold calling, getting hung up on, or even yelled at.  But when you realize sales prospecting doesn’t have to be this way, you become a better sales rep. Prospecting, the act of generating enough interest with a potential customer to start a conversation about the solution you are asking them to buy. Here are a few sales prospecting tips to get you pointed in the right direction.

Make Prospecting Feel Natural

No one in their right mind will engage with someone reading a script.  In fact, a scripting sales rep comes across as robotic and impersonal.  Based on our personal experience, the more natural the conversation is, the more engaging it is.

While some companies require scripts to guarantee you communicate suggested messaging to a prospect, you don’t have to sound like you are reading it word for word.  In fact, the most successful reps have internalized scripts and can hit the messaging without the word for word script.

Listen and Sell a Solution

In this day and age, you are not selling a product, but rather a solution.   While a car salesman is selling transportation as a product, they really are selling an experience… the comfort of driving to work in a luxury car or hearing your favorite tunes on a road trip.

Listen closely to the issue your prospects have.  Engage with general, open-ended questions and listen carefully.  In their answer is the key to the conversation.  Address it naturally and the sales will happen.

Look in Creative Places

A source of prospects is often hiding in plain sight.  Yes, your company’s CRM system is loaded with leads.  But what about the prospects who you don’t know about?  Think outside the box.  Use social media searches to find prospects who are having the very problem you can solve.   You can also share contacts with a rep at another company who sells a complimentary solution.

The key is to look beyond your mailing lists and get creative with finding prospects.  Heck, have you been to a technology meetup lately?

Don’t Close on a Prospecting Call

The point of a prospecting call is just that, to gauge interest and start a conversation.  You will very rarely need to close a deal on the first call.  The first call is about understanding if your potential customer has a problem you can solve. Only then can you start building a relationship and moving toward creating and then closing the deal.

In today’s market places, selling is complex a task. It requires multiple touch points with various individuals in the organization.  It also requires good marketing content. The strong the relationship you build, the more likely the solution is the right fit.  With the right fit, your future customer is less likely to churn after you close the deal.

Have Fun With It

These are just some of the tips to help you make the most of your sales prospecting efforts.  Prospecting and creating interest in your solutions can be a fun game.  Acting natural, be sincere, and find prospects in creative ways will make you the best rep on the sales team.



Pipeline Management: Staying Organized

sales pipeline managmentThe trick to managing your pipeline with less stress is simply staying organized. It is true, pipeline management can be easy and even enjoyable. We typically get a reaction of fear and stress when we mention pipeline and management in the same sentence. Did you know you feel fear and stress when you are unprepared?  So, let’s show you how to be better prepared with your pipeline.

These 5 tips come from years of coaching sales reps and sales leaders.  Phenomenal things happen if you embrace them all, but it is okay to start with one or two.

Update and Research

  1. Keep your CRM up to Date: Seriously, enter your calls, fill in those “Notes” fields, follow your team’s best practices and don’t be lazy.  Your CRM is a system of record for not only your activity, but your incentive compensation.  It also helps analysts to analyze the customer journey, create insights, and help you sell more efficiently. Don’t be a lazy whiner at the end of the quarter!
  2. Keep Your Own Black Book of Business: Yep, a black book! While the CRM is the official record is in your CRM, each successful sales professional we have worked with had a black book. They use it for their thoughts, additional notes about leads and deals, and they record ideas. A black book is a great place to free the mind. You can also record your thoughts on your pipeline, leads, deals, and even your sales manager’s birthday!
  3. Know Your KPIs:  Every rep has a set of KPIs which they must know.  From sales cycle length to average deal size to win rate, these are a few of the numbers you MUST know. Track them every quarter.  Oh yeah, do you know what your current attainment to goal is for this quarter and year-to-date?  If not, find out NOW.  Know your numbers.

Create Your Plans

  1. Create a Plan A, but also Plan B, and Plan C: Your black book is the perfect place to record your plans.  The plan includes your quota and other targets, your KPIs (you know them now?), and a list of your top 20 deals in the pipeline.  With this information create a plan and know which accounts make up your quota number. This is plan A.  B is a hypothetical plan, where you ask, “what happens when my top deal drops out and I need $XX in two weeks or I am screwed”.  So B is a list of accounts you can close in the remaining time. Likewise, C is another hypothetical plan to cover your butt. But don’t forget the leads you must work and the accounts which will be adding new deals to the pipeline.  Consider both ends of the funnel in your plan.
  2. Review your Plan Daily, Adjust Weekly: All the best plans are worthless if we left them in the car or the dog ate them for breakfast.  Our final tip is to make sure you review your plan and your black book DAILY! While the plan will not change daily, you must make sure your plan is valid every week!! Sit down with a glass of wine or a beer and make sure your review your KPIs, the status of each deal you are counting and who your promising new leads are.  KNOW IT because your VP or CRO might stop you in the hallway and ask.  Never say “I don’t know” to a VP.

There you have it! 5 tips on staying organized and reducing stress while managing your pipeline.   When you go to work tomorrow, look your fellow sales reps in the eyes and see if you can see stress.  If you do, notice if they are organized and/or have their own black book.  You might be surprised at what you see.

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