Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Building Engagement Through Analytics

By Shawn Miller
Director of Market Analytics
Philips Healthcare North America

Let’s help our Medical Device organizations build engagement through powerful analytics.   In other words, let’s not just provide data, but rather, help drive action planning to improve top line performance.  But how do we do that? 
First – let us define and use a common terminology:

Analytics – industry data and market intelligence related to market size, trends, growth, market share, win/loss, “visibility” (percentage of deals your sales team sees), competitive analysis and related information
Engagement – understanding and action based on the data
You want your clients to be engaged in your output – your clients or stakeholders being senior management including marketing and sales leadership and the sales organization down to the individual Account Manager.

Building engagement
Here are some things I have learned to build engagement:

  1. It’s like playing golf.  You need to keep score, you need immediate feedback and you need to provide your organization with a good scorecard.    Examples would be providing quarterly market size and share data, providing quarterly win/loss and visibility metrics, customer satisfaction data, etc.
  2. Don’t “high 5” too early.  Have a great quarter?  I would argue the bigger question is, “how did you do bumped up against the market?”  That is, if you grew 5% in a particular segment, and the market grew 10%, you lost.  You lost market share.  You may have “high 5’d” each other for a great quarter that met plan, but you lost to your competitors.  So include in your analysis, not just company performance, but company performance compared to market performance.   This is hard to do in practice because sometimes the data just isn’t available.  More on that below.  And this analysis should be provided at regular intervals; I recommend quarterly.
  3. Execute.  I have seen a lot of people over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to providing data and analytics.  For example, we have been promising “dashboards” to the field sales organization for several years but have not yet been able to provide a workable solution.  This sounds simple, but I’m more convinced than ever that execution, doing what you say you will do, is a skill and an art that less and less people have.     You’ve heard the adage, “Under promise, over deliver”.  This is true with analytics.  Promise something you can’t deliver and you and your team will lose credibility.
  4. Don’t say “No” twice.  You can say it once – “No, I don’t have that information now”.  Or no I can’t figure it out.  I once had a manager say, “figure it out, or I’ll find someone who can” (he eventually tried with an outside consultant and the consultant failed).  But the point is valid – say no…once…that’s OK, but caveat it with “I’ll figure it out”.   Find the data.  If you don’t have the data, put together a budget, an RFP and do the research.  If that won’t work, which is often the case for market sizing efforts, figure out a way to model or forecast it.
  5. Go to Vegas.  If you don’t know the answer, model it.  There are great skills to be learned in Vegas.  Poker and black jack are about estimating, and making educating judgments and betting based on the odds and your likelihood of winning.  This isn’t much different from estimating in business and building robust models based on outcome probabilities.  My Dad taught me poker and chess, and there are embedded life lessons and skills I use every day in building market models and planning.
  6. Discuss it, don’t just send it.  Email is not a great forum for sharing complex data.  Even simple data can be often misinterpreted because it is read quickly and often not understood in context.  It’s OK to send it out initially, but setup a meeting to discuss it, especially if it is new data or new analysis.  It will take more time on your part, but there is tremendous value in the discussion
Following these straightforward guidelines will make a dramatic difference in the credibility and usefulness of our analytics and market intelligence functions.  So go ahead, play some golf, gamble in Vegas and learn not to say “No” and then apply these skills to your analytics and see what amazing things happen!

Shawn Miller is the Director of Market Analytics at Philips Healthcare.   Shawn has held a variety of positions in Marketing, Sales, Market Analytics, Market Intelligence and IT.  He doesn’t play golf, but he does play chess, poker, likes betting on horses, build models and gives lots of “high 5’s” when company performance exceeds market performance.


    1. Social media has changes the way companies view and reach out to their customers. It is no longer an option that companies have but a necessity for them. The choice is clear - either engage or be prepared to be forgotten.
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