How being a data-led company can drive more sales in less time

  • Andy Hall
  • Oct 26, 2020
  • 13 Min Read

By Andy Hall, Director of Sales  

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Sadly, data is one of the most underutilised tools in a modern day operator’s armoury. According to research by McKinsey, brands that utilised customer data to generate insights outperform peers by a whopping 85% in sales growth and 25% in gross profit margin.  

In this article, we will look at how you can utilise the data you have to optimise your commercial performance and drive a growth organisation. We refer to the kings (and queens) of data analytics and look at how the likes of Amazon and Netflix have built global dominating brands all around data and data analytics.  

How data can drive sales and revenue

Gone are the days where a great sales team could drive your business success. Now, this team is only as good as the data they have to work with. A data-driven sales strategy is proven to increase sales outcomes and performance, boost funnel conversion rates, accelerate revenue growth, and improve pipeline visibility; all resulting in more accurate and precise forecasting and ultimately commercial performance. 

Data can be useless unless you are willing to interpret and analyse it into meaningful insights from which you can take action. You will need the ability to capture data, have a strategy for how you will interpret it (and share it with your team), and of course, the power to make positive changes.  This type of plan is essential to keep the sales team performing at or above the level needed to hit sales goals and drive more revenue.

One thing that’s important to note, is that the data you collect and analyse is open for all departments and key personnel to see, access and action. Transparency is key. This will help to justify and speed up decision-making about new processes, new product development, offers and promotions, even recruitment and re-structures.  We recommend key personnel and teams have their own data dashboards and can review data and metrics most relevant to them. 

Digital data acquisition

There’s no denying that we live (and operate) in a fast-paced, digital world….

  • 98% of digital consumers are social media users
  • An average of 2 hours and 20 minutes per day is spent on social networks and messaging apps – a figure that continues to increase
  • Smartphones are facilitating on-the-go social engagement, with many dipping into different platforms throughout the day.
  • Social media has an important role in purchase journeys. Over half of digital consumers are following brands and social networks and more than 60% of consumers are believed to visit a brand’s social media accounts before visiting a shop
  • 80% of these consumers are more likely to buy from you if you have a good digital footprint
  • Video watching on social is now mainstream
  • Digital influencers are becoming more influential, more so than celebs.  

In this increasingly digital world, customer-centricity, personalisation, and excellent customer experience separates the good brands and businesses from the bad and the ugly ones. Covid-19 has increased the adoption of a more digital way to consume and interact with the brands we love but couldn’t physically access- including a boom in connected fitness, becoming a standard practice for how people work out at home and in clubs. In a world where social distancing and limiting capacities could become “normal,” brands and organisations need to find a way to effectively compete and retain customers in this “phygital world” where digital meets physical. The key to unlocking the potential here is data. For the brands which are slow to respond to this data-led opportunity…maybe ask Blockbuster or MySpace, Kodak or BlackBerry how they are doing? 

A quick look back

Before we jump into the sales and marketing strategies you should be using in today’s world, let’s first take a look at what we used to do and how and why we’ve had to evolve. Rewind ten years and mass marketing was the only way to market.  Successful brands stood out from the crown by better segmenting and targeting their customers. They would look at age, gender, income, occupation, location etc. In other words, they focussed entirely on the “who”.  

Whilst we’re not knocking the importance of understanding who your customers are, it’s important this information isn’t used in isolation. If we look at the world’s most successful brands, they are using data and insights to develop clearer customer personas and looking at customer journey mapping and customer behaviour, which is driven wholly by data analytics.  

This quote from Netflix’s VP of Product Innovation, Todd Yellin, rings true here: “It really doesn’t matter if you’re a 60-year-old woman or a 20-year-old man because a 20-year-old man can watch Say Yes to The Dress and a 60-year-old woman could watch Hellboy.” 

If we think about Netflix and Amazon, most of us will think about their incredible use of personal recommendations and it’s no surprise that these recommendations aren’t served up by luck. The advanced engine algorithms are designed to serve each and every customer with hyper-personalised content and product suggestions based upon each customer’s past behaviour. 

Let’s apply this to our sector. How many 60+ year olds do you see in your gym who are in better physical condition than some 20-year-olds using your facility?  Therefore, who should you target with your sales and marketing messages? The answer is both and with personal messages around their usage habits and behaviours.   

Here are a couple quick stats to further highlight the point we want to make: 

  • 75% of Netflix viewer activity is driven by recommendation 
  • 35% of Amazon’s sales are generated through their recommendation engine 
  • Netflix’s recommendation system saves the company an estimated $1Billion per year through reduced churn 

The challenges 

Firstly, we want to point out that if this was an easy way to market, everyone would be doing it. For the most part, marketers struggle to effectively align teams and strategies with the customer journey, citing difficulties such as: lacking a single view of the customer, fragmented data sources, and budgetary constraints as top obstacles getting in the way. Thankfully, we have a solution.  

Volution can support your organisation to overcome these barriers. Our bespoke dashboards offer a single view of your business via the data you have and are collecting daily. Our solution pulls all your data into one place (no need to change existing providers / partners) as we can plug in multiple sources of information. And there’s no set-up fee so you don’t need to worry about finding the budget. Finally, we can be up and running in less than six weeks!  

More touch points equal more data points.

Naturally, the more times your customers interact with your brand and service, the more you can learn about them and their behaviours. Very quickly, patterns and trends will begin to emerge and you can start to understand why successes (and failures) happen.    

Using the data in this way offers invaluable insight for the sales and marketing team and, in turn, the sales funnel and path to purchase can be optimised. You can also look to re-target look-a-like audiences of your high-performing customers and look to target them with the right marketing and sales messaging. This will also help you to better manage your marketing budget and focus the appropriate resources on prospects with the highest likelihood of conversion and the highest potential of driving lifetime value.  

In essence, it’s time to cut the fat and stop wasting time and money on prospects who are long-shots, or whose lifetime value won’t be worth the marketing spend, even if they do buy (as a rule of thumb, LTV should be at least 3X customer acquisition cost.)

This leads us perfectly on to how we use data to retain and engage our members and customers once we have converted them.  

Retention and engagement

Did you know about 1 out of 26 of unhappy customers complain? And 91% of those unhappy non-complainers simply leave. How can we use data to keep our members happier and more engaged for longer? 

A great example here is, once again, with our friends at Netflix. The brand uses customer behavior data to make decisions on what content to produce and license, which also helps them to prevent churn, as well as improve customer acquisition. This makes perfect sense right? And as a result of seemingly “commonsensible” efforts, Netflix has significantly reduced its churn rate, which now sits somewhat lower than its competitors.

A simple deep dive into behaviour data can help retention and lifetime value, but it also gives Netflix – and any other brand for that matter – the ability to grow market share as they have less customers to backfill (due to churn) and potentially more to spend on customer acquisition.  

Driving Lifetime Value (LTV)

Club usage data is invaluable in driving LTV. Creating regular and ongoing data touchpoints with members, especially those early on in their membership, will help them to form habits with your brand and service. For example, regular analysis of the data will show you which type of fitness and fitness products your members need to consume and when in order to form habits. Once a habit loop is formed, retention becomes much easier and cheaper. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, assisted gym products and programmes are truly great at keeping members engaged, motivated and achieving their fitness goals. Sign-posting them to these parts of your service, makes perfect sense.  

It should come as no surprise that a member who has a great experience of your club or facility directly links to a member staying for longer. If a member is having a good experience, they are less likely to churn and vice versa. Data can show you which members are most engaged, identifying   the correlation between members having a good experience and their interactions with your clubs and brands. Of course, this is the same for those having a bad experience. 

Easily accessible and comparable data across these multiple sources allows you to stop doing the things that cause a bad experience and double down on those leading to great experiences.

Upselling and driving secondary spend 

Knowing who is having a good experience and a bad experience allows you to better target members in a bid to upsell and create a healthier secondary spend revenue stream. Members who are having a good experience are more likely to spend more money with you.

What’s more, data showing actions of members can highlight the types of members buying certain products and also members that should be targeted to buy certain products. For example if your data shows that just before a member purchases a PT product, they are attending the club just once a week, you can target all members attending the club just once a week. 

If we look outside the sector, we could look at the success of Amazon.  An ecommerce site that gets more than two BILLION monthly web visitors it’s a brand that needs no introduction.  Let’s take a look at Amazon Prime, a subscription service which offers Amazon customers access to exclusive perks such as next day or even same day delivery for certain products.  It also gives customers unlimited access to Amazon’s streaming services (video and music) and the ability to borrow kindle books, store photos and other benefits. This has been quite the revenue generator from the brand not only in sign ups and the subsequent membership fee but Prime members spend on average three times more than non-members each year.  

The success of this can be largely down to three factors; it focussed on one key selling point (speed of delivery), it made signing up to this service an obvious choice / upgrade – interestingly, initially Amazon didn’t see the uptake it wanted after Prime was first launched. To boost this, Amazon offered free 30 day-trials and consumers saw the benefits.  And finally, it used the right conversion techniques.  In the US, 73% of the Prime subscribers who took advantage of the 30 day free trial converted to the paid subscription model. An average 91% renew after year one and this jumps to 96% after year two and then Amazon has loyal customers for life.  

If we apply this to the fitness sector, what difference could an additional subscription service make to your bottom line? Think about how a tiered subscription / membership could work?

Launching new revenue streams

Data can seriously impact and influence anything new you want to trial or launch.  For example, if we look at the boutique operators, we can see that not only do they offer an amazing fitness experience whilst training at the club, but they also enhance this by offering protein shakes, smoothies, salads, awesome coffee, clothes, and accessories. Operators can look to trial similar services and use the data and results to guide its decision-making process on what to launch and roll out. In a snapshot, data can show you which products have a good ROI, good take up and which are worth pursuing further.

Make data-driven decisions; quicker

So, you’re sold on the benefits of being a data-led brand and operation. You understand the key metrics, how you will collect the data, how it can be analysed, and now the final step is to use these insights to guide your sales strategy and operational processes. 

Our friends K, P and I will come into play here, so it’s important that all data is used and measured against key KPIs. You should also have a central dashboard to compare clubs within your portfolio, which will help you make more accurate high-level decisions. For example, some club data might be different from others and therefore be exempt from changes. Data can help you see the bigger picture far easier, but also help you make accurate micro decisions, faster, and for the benefit of business performance. 


There’s no escaping the power of data and what it can offer to any organisation of any size. The data you have within your business can inform so many areas of your operation from content and messaging to sales personnel performance and even have operational ramifications. Such insights allow leaders like you to be more proactive rather than reactive by enabling informed, evidence-based decision-making. When used and analysed properly, data offers greater, more detailed insight into the “state of business” than ever before.  

Data-driven companies have proven to be both more profitable and productive. Are you ready to be a data-driven business?