If you have a passion for business matched with mathematical and analytical proficiency, then you are cut out to become a sales analyst. These analysts drive critical business decisions by monitoring and analyzing the company’s numbers to determine patterns and emerging trends. The numbers include sales data, profit margins and operational costs tracked over specified intervals and compared with previous or similar historical time periods. Retailers rely on reports from sales analysts to determine merchandise selection, promotional strategies, sales event timing and advertising messages.
Core Skills Needed by a Sales Analyst
The sales analyst needs to have excellent communication skills because this is a job that requires the ability to deal with different levels in the organizational hierarchy. The analyst should be able to ask the right questions and elicit relevant answers to establish an analytical framework that would yield an accurate picture of the business’ performance. At its core, the sales analyst is a problem solver in the sense that the job entails identifying key performance metrics, identifying the factors that affect how or why performance is under par and presenting available data in a way that everyone views the issues in the same context.
Critical thinking and evaluation skills are corollary to problem-solving skills, and an analyst must hone the ability to examine issues objectively. Other skills that will be helpful for a sales analyst are documentation and correlation competencies required to generate relevant and concise reports, facilitation and presentation skills and technical expertise in specified research methodologies. Needless to say, the sales analyst should have in-depth knowledge of the company’s operations and the industry and sector to which it belongs.
Academic Preparation for the Job of Sales Analyst
To prepare for becoming a sales analyst, plan on completing a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, business administration or other business-related program to gain the basic training in understanding business operations. Alternative programs may focus on statistics, economics or mathematics to hone your numeric and analytical skills. For those who are determined to climb up the corporate leader, a master’s degree in business administration and progressive experience as an analyst in almost any field will certainly help to make you a topnotch candidate for a sales analyst position.
How to Gain Work Experience as an Analyst
Strive to gain work experience in the retail setting in any industry and in any capacity to gain hands-on experience on how businesses build sales and profits in the real world. With a bachelor’s degree and some work experience demonstrating your capability for documentation and analytical work, you can usually get an entry-level job as an analyst.
With some experience and greater knowledge of technical tools, the sales analyst should be able to predict trends based on past performance, according to the Houston Chronicle. Sales analysts are also tasked with identifying the possible reasons for the rise or decline in sales and profitability by examining factors that may have affected the numbers. These analytical sales reports are highly valued by top executives when planning the future direction of the company, including adjusting merchandise mix and marketing strategies to align with sales targets.
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The sales analyst prepares reports to review various aspects of operational success or failure. These reports are based on actual numbers generated by the company, and it is the function of the sales analyst to make coherent presentations that would show the overall performance of the company. The analysis is based on past performance, but to become a successful sales analyst, be prepared to make extrapolations and predictions that would help chart the company’s future business strategies.