Tag Cloud

For analysts, ‘sales’ is not a dirty five-letter word

I joined a discussion with fellow analysts in one of the LinkedIn groups that I belong to. It started off by the original poster attaching a link to an interview on television, which promotes ‘analyst’ as the profession to be as there is a scarcity of good analysts in the market at the moment. The discussion evolves to analysts bemoaning the fact that Senior Management fail to understand them and provide the necessary support.

Although it is true that many members of the Senior Management, even in large corporations, fail to understand analytics and what analysts do, I also see that analysts often fail to sell themselves to the greater part of the company. Other departments may see analysts as genius number-crunching geeks who are experts in their respective patch of the woods – and as a source of ad-hoc data providers. Even love affair can turn stale – so after years of number crunching and dealing with the same issues, analysts can feel unloved and left-out of the bigger picture, move on to another corporation and repeat the same cycle all over again.

I experienced that as well in my previous career steps and have identified some actions that can be done by the analysts themselves to accelerate the process:

  1. Let’s face it – not everybody loves numbers and data like we do. We have to translate our passion for information, data and numbers into a way that is easily understood by the greater population. We have to write a pop-version of the analysis. Focusing on the methods, eigenvalue, and other analytical jargons and concepts will only alienate your audience. Start with the end, why does your analysis or area matter for the whole of the business?
  2. United we stand, divided we fall. Some techniques that the Risk Management guys have mastered over the years may be useful for Marketing Analysts, and while you are tearing your hair out trying to do a Factor Analysis on your data, there may be a Factor Analysis guru hidden in the Finance Department. Work together, acquaint yourself with other analysts in the organisation and start collaborating. Protecting your own area may mean that you’re losing out on great collaborative work and learning new skills. There’s wisdom in analyst crowds! For an interesting view on the wisdom of crowds, have a read of James Surowiecki’s 2005 book The Wisdom of Crowds.
  3. Everybody loves a story so sell yours. Analysts still tend to write reports as if they were computer or car specifications. Yes, they have their place in the workplace, but let’s face it, people enjoy glossier page with easier to digest information. ‘Sell’ your work and analysis (i.e. package your analysis into a ‘story’), connect them to the bottom line and how you actually impact the bottom line of the company by the size of the business that you help save, or generate, and get an audience with the Senior Management. Always ask yourself the ‘So what?’ question – how would your analysis affect the business.
  4. Learn new skills. In order to tell a story authoritatively, you need new skills. Don’t shun away if there is a course on sales techniques. You need to sell your analysis too, as mentioned previously. Learn leadership skills, know more about the business operations and what is happening out there in the market and expand your horizon! It may mean that you need to step out of your comfort area and learn or do things that you are not really comfortable with, but push yourself and enjoy the new challenges!
  5. It’s not the vehicle, it’s how to arrive at the big picture. Similar to our fascination with numbers, we often focus on analytical tools and technologies that may cost the company thousands of dollars, before we convince them that we are an integral part of the whole team. Develop a proof of concept, work with available tools and data if necessary and share your limitation! Before long, you may find yourself authorised to purchase the tool that you need to do your job better! (I once commented to my manager, when I had to work with Excel again to do the bulk of my analysis, that it was like filleting a fish with a spatula. I downloaded an evaluation version of a popular analytical tool, and worked together with an analyst from a different department, and gained an hour of the Senior Management’s time. They could not believe that such ‘sexy’ analysis could be done with the data (they were always told that the data were dirty and that nothing could be done with them). I was authorised to purchase a full version not soon after!).

Of course, Senior Management are also responsible to support and cultivate analytical culture in the company. Microsoft Excel has its use and limitation, but if you insist in having your analysts create complicated behaviour models using an outdated Excel version, you may need to adjust your expectations. For some enlightening read, check out Thomas Davenport’s 2007 book Competing on Analytics or his new book Analytics at Work. You may need to catch up with the rest of your competitors!

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Warning: strpos() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 97

Warning: substr() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 99

Warning: strpos() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 97

Warning: substr() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 99

Warning: strpos() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 97

Warning: substr() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 99

Warning: strpos() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 97

Warning: substr() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 99

Warning: strpos() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 97

Warning: substr() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 99

Warning: strpos() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 97

Warning: substr() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /home/jjacatra/public_html/80thfloor.info/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/Sniffer.php on line 99
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.