Let’s tell a story about how analyzing your NetSuite data can be critical to your company’s success…
Can Your NetSuite Data Tell You Something?
Back in the early part of this decade, I worked for a company that was having a slight drop in sales. Ok… maybe it was more than a slight drop. They were a company that sold books, and this is a period of time when the economy was struggling and ebooks were just starting to take a hold of the market. Sales were declining, and if it did not turn around, jobs would probably be lost.
Relatively new to NetSuite, I was an IT guy that also had a background in operations and sales from previous ventures. I decided to put the two together and start diving into the data a bit. But before I did, I needed to understand the processes in place at the company. So I sat down with some of the sales team to get a better idea of how they approached customers and made new sales.
Like many companies with an inside sales force, they sat down with lists of customers that needed to be called. They would pull some generic customer lists by state, give them to the reps responsible for that territory, and they would start making calls. The process looked pretty normal. What I wondered, though, was where did they get those lists?
NetSuite Data Mining
It didn’t take long to figure out that beyond a filter or two for the state, territory, and other basic information, the lists were not scrubbed or targeted at all. They were every customer, prospect, and lead in the system. A large number came from uploaded, unverified contact lists. Many of them had bad contact information, which made many of the calls a much longer process as the sales team tried to track down the right information. While this was great for scrubbing the data, you want your sales team making sales – not cleaning data.
So I started looking closer at their customer’s habits. It didn’t take long to figure out that once a customer purchased one product, there was a pretty good chance they would buy again. Once they had purchased more than one product, the chances were even greater. If they had already bought 4 or 5 products, it was highly likely they would buy again. Repeat customers were the life of their business, which may seem obvious, but the data in NetSuite made it that much more obvious.
It also showed a few other things, such as which products they would be likely to buy next based on previous purchases. They generally followed trends. Customers that bought product A, seemed to also want to buy Product B. So I started creating lists of customers that had purchased product A but had not bought product B yet. I then went through and ranked the customers based on the number of previous items they had purchased. But I wasn’t done yet.
Capturing More Data
I could have simply passed the lists as spreadsheets over to the salespeople and let them start calling. But we wouldn’t know if this was really making a difference. Sure, we would see the impact on sales dollars, but it would be hard to know if it was because of these lists, or if there were other factors involved that moved sales in one direction or the other.
I took the lists and used them to create custom fields and records to track their progress. It took awhile to build out a system that worked, but we created a way for the salespeople to track who they called, make follow-up calls and emails until they reached that person, progress them through stages, and eventually track the sales. Yes, you can do some of this in NetSuite, but we built our own system tailored to our needs.
What was the end result? The data we started capturing showed us that the salespeople were closing about 40% more of their calls than before. On the lists targeted to those customers that bought 5 or more products, they were closing 2 out of every 3 customers! The results were better than any of us could have imagined.
Their NetSuite data had sat ignored for years, but when we started utilizing it, it turned that entire year around for the company. Sadly, other factors and the rise of technology led that wonderful company to eventually close its doors, but I think that one data analysis project helped sustain them for at least a couple more years first.
What About Your NetSuite Data?
In my job, I often get called in for one of two things: 1) Fix something that is broke, and 2) Add a customization to automate something. While I love that part of my job, it can be hard to convince people to USE THEIR DATA!
Yes, technology has one impact that leads to time savings – having a unified system for all users with processes, procedures, workflows, scripts, and other customizations that help save money by streamlining processes. That’s great and hugely important, but it is completely ignoring the large opportunity for growth, as well.
How do you drive profit? Lower costs and increase sales, right? Why do so many companies focus on lowering costs through NetSuite processes and ignore the potential increase in sales? And speaking of lowering costs, there are often great opportunities to analyze costs using NetSuite data, as well – further lowering costs. Yet, I find so few that want to invest in taking the time to really look at their data.
NetSuite Dashboards are a Crutch
When you implemented NetSuite, or sometime soon after, you probably designed some canned reports to throw on your dashboard. You may even have a few pretty charts that show you sales numbers and other statistics. And while it is great to keep an eye on these statistics, what is the data really telling you?
If you are simply watching your dashboards as they change on a day-to-day basis, you are just a spectator of your own business. Become more actively engaged in your business by knowing what the data is telling you. Learn why your sales are going up or down based on real data.
The first question everyone asks is: how long will this take? That’s hard to say. Yes, we can throw another report on your dashboard in a pretty short time, but is that really addressing the issue? This is a process: how long or how short is largely up to you. But if you knew there was potential to increase your sales effectiveness by 40% in a given year (like my old company did), how much would that be worth to you? If you could cut 5-10% more off your costs or improve your margins through better pricing, what would you be willing to invest to get there?
Of course, results are not guaranteed. The data can point you in a direction, but it is up to you to take action on it from there. If changes are not implemented, you will see the same data continue to repeat itself. But please! Do not let your NetSuite data collect dust on NetSuite’s servers. Do something with it! Analyze it. Scrub it. Improve it. Find the keys to growing your business.
And in some cases, we may realize that you’re not capturing enough data to really tell us anything. In those situations, we can put some customizations in place to help segment and track your sales, inventory, and other factors. We then let the data go to work and start collecting. As it starts to collect, it will start to paint a clearer picture. In some cases, we can even go back and mass update old data for the same purpose.
When you’re ready, call me. We can sit down and come up with a plan of action. We’ll start by discussing your business, finding your needs, and where you think things stand. I can then analyze your system to see is really going on and make recommendations for ways to improve. It might be new processes, targeted customer lists for your salespeople, automated follow-ups, adjusting data, or any number of ways that might help drive sales and lower costs.
I’m ready when you are.
Side note: Yes, I’ve already begun playing around with NetSuite’s new SuiteAnalytics tool, and it will be interesting to see how this progresses (hopefully better than the Pivot Reports).