Beat bigger competitors with business intelligence


Date: 31 July 2014

Business intelligence — make decisions{{}}Smaller companies make a major contribution to the UK economy, helping increase employment and playing a key role in the ongoing recovery from recession.

In fact, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, small companies accounted for 47% of private sector employment and 33.1% of turnover at the start of 2013.

Of course, that doesn’t make it easy to compete with large, multi-national corporations with their huge marketing budgets and large, diverse workforces.

But in a business world increasingly dominated by big data, limited budgets and personnel no longer need hold smaller companies back.

What is big data?

Regardless of their size, companies with the ability to process and analyse customer data have an immediate advantage.

That data contains answers to questions that can help organisations succeed, like:

  • How much are customers willing to pay for our products?
  • What kinds of products should we develop next?
  • What’s the best location for us to open our next shop?
  • Which advertising methods are working best for us?
  • What are our biggest upsell opportunities?
  • What kinds of customers are most and least profitable?

Business intelligence (BI) software can help you use data you collect to answer questions like these.

It can give you visibility into customer buying habits and trends that may enable you to stay ahead of the competition. Here’s how:

1. It puts time on your side

Business intelligence software organises data so you can quickly access the most important information about every customer. That might include their purchasing history, or what they are and aren’t happy about.

Assembling, maintaining and finding this information manually would be labour-intensive. But because business intelligence puts these insights at your fingertips, you know each customer inside out. As a result, you can provide unparalleled service.

2. Sell proactively, not reactively

Business intelligence software can identify customer buying patterns. For example, if you sell disposable contact lenses, it could flag up when a regular customer is likely to run out. Then you can swoop in with a personalised offer, to make sure you get the repeat business.

You can also identify opportunities for cross and upselling. Your sales team can identify likely prospects more easily, rather than relying on speculative cold calls, which can alienate customers and prove demoralising for your staff.

3. Don’t waste any information

Business intelligence enables you to identify wider customer trends too, from showing your best-selling products to providing insights into seasonal changes.

This can help you run highly targeted promotions and marketing campaigns that are based on data and fact, rather than on your gut feelings.

If you’re trying to compete against bigger businesses with their bigger budgets, this knowledge will help you really understand your customers. As a result, you’ll sell more, retain existing customers and win new ones.

This post is by Paul Black, CEO of sales-i.

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