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Sales Analytics Spotlight: Revenue Attribution

By Dave Egloff | September 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

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Note to reader: I’m starting a new blog series to spotlight specific topics related to sales analytics. The recurring (but occasional) series will use the title format “Sales Analytics Spotlight: <>.” If this blog type is relatively well-received, I’ll continue the concept. Enjoy.

Revenue attribution is a generic concept of “attributing” or matching revenue streams to something specific.  Commonly, we hear about revenue attribution as a marketing concept where revenue links to marketing campaigns.  While this is a great use case, it’s only one example of revenue attribution.

CSOs should work with their sales operations leaders to attribute revenue streams to specific categories to improve strategic planning.  The specificity allows for more detailed analyses that lead to diagnostic and predictive insights.  It also reveals issues and opportunities that might otherwise be masked if only looking at the macro-level.

Three common categories for attribution are customer segment, product and sales motion.

Customer Segment

Traditionally, CSOs have been using customer segment analytics to prioritize investments and headcount.  If Segment A is growing faster than Segment B, it makes sense to nurture and support that growth.  Similarly, CSOs may detect segment-specific issues across win rates or growth.  Segment-specific issues may trigger a:

  • Shift in segment-specific commercial messaging
  • Review in competitive intelligence
  • Assessment of sales force size and deployment

Lately, customer segment analytics enable CSOs to sense demand and gauge the speed of recovery after the onset of COVID-19.

Product

Admittedly, product revenue attribution is quite common.  Across all commercial functions – sales, marketing, product, etc. – most leaders have an eye on product performance.  Despite that, many CSOs underutilize this analysis. 

Product attribution is more than just the top-line performance.  CSOs should examine win rates, deal sizes and sales cycle times.  Win rates reveal insights on seller effectiveness.  To resolve effectiveness issues, CSOs should consider:

  • Sales enablement programs
  • Sales engineers to add product expertise

If a given product tends to have smaller deal sizes or longer sales cycles, CSOs may need a more significant solution like developing a dedicated sales team.  Often, sellers avoid products with lower win rates, smaller deal sizes or longer cycles.  Sellers often say these products feel more like an opportunity cost than an opportunity.

Sales Motion

Annually, CSOs receive a revenue target and many analyze it for feasibility and strategic planning.  It’s incredibly helpful to use sales motion attribution during this analysis.  Common sales motions include:

  • New sell – new customer acquisition
  • Cross-sell – new offering in an existing customer account
  • Up-sell – product or service upgrade
  • Add-on – complementary offerings that are only sold as an attachment
  • Resell (or renewal) – recurring or repeated revenue

As CSOs analyze their goals, they will likely see areas of risk or concern.  Perhaps, they need to secure more revenue from new customers or improve resell or renewal rates.  These priorities influence:

  • Sales coverage modeling – perhaps books of business need to expand or shrink
  • Seller role design – many CSOs recognize hybrid sellers focus on existing account management at the detriment of hunting for new accounts.
  • Sales force sizing – sizing and capacity analyses detect underperformance risks that may need remediation

Unfortunately, a common pushback is that while revenue attribution is great in theory, the underlying systems and data don’t support the analysis.  Progressive CSOs recognize that this isn’t a self-correcting problem.  Therefore, they invest in resolving these issues.

Finally, revenue attribution concepts can and should be used to analyze opportunity metrics.  This is what data-driven decision-making looks like.

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