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Big Data For Sales and Marketing

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The market is buzzing with the new revolution of Big Data for sales and marketing however, many companies are yet to embrace it. For many, they are seeing this new revolution as a conflict with CRM, or they believe they will be just drowning in even more data. Let’s look closely at how Big Data will affect you.

The truth is Big Data can be an asset to a sales organisation if it is clearly understood, and there are definitely tangible returns to be gained.

Firstly, let’s understand what Big Data is and how it affects you.

Big Data is about predictive analysis that determines the buying trends of customers. For the small thinkers, their conversation might be, ‘Our salespeople already know their customers, so what new information could there possibly be?’ Yes, some salespeople know their customers, but we need you to be bigger thinkers. It is not just about your existing customers, it is also about those new customers you have not secured. That elusive new business you are always seeking to acquire. It can also be about confirming that salespeople really do know their customers and all the decision-makers and opportunities within larger accounts. Your competitors may be well-informed about your customers. You certainly don’t want to arrive at work one day to find your key customer has left you for another vendor that understands more of their broader requirements. (A big trend occurring for many businesses now).

A common conversation I have with clients when the topic of Big Data appears on the horizon is that the salespeople are already drowning in data, so how much more can they actually absorb? Sales leaders and their teams are quick to shy away from anything that could be even more work on their overloaded days. This lack of understanding of Big Data could be placing unnecessary barriers in front of the team, and hopefully, this article will clear away some of those barriers.

Simply put, Big Data is not about the volume of data nor asking teams to dedicate time to reading through a tsunami of information. Big Data is a technology that sees through the maze of media on multiple layers and platforms and identifies the critical information and trends of buyers. There are certain activities that occur in businesses that can trigger sales opportunities. It can be one activity or flow of activities, and it’s about having the information racked over and bringing that vital information to the forefront, timely. It could be a new managerial hire to a company that instigates the need for new accounting software. The pending downsize of an outpost office instigates the need for new logistic services for the distribution of products. There are a plethora of examples that can be given that become catalysts for a myriad of offerings.

Can you compare Big Data to other existing services?

Some people try to relate Big Data to being similar to reporting services such as construction reports. Those companies gather information on the status of construction applications and projects, alerting you to new opportunities. Although the principle is similar, these services would be best described as small to midsize data. It has relevance, but it is only a small scale of what can be gained through Big Data.

Big Data is ideal for the time-poor and companies dealing with customers that may fall into the categories of Top 1000 or media active companies. Their activities are reported in mainstream media, social media, journals, and many other platforms. To monitor them would require a team of people locked in an office if attempted on a manual level.

Salespeople racking through data is time-consuming and non-productive in many cases. They can spend up to 24 per cent of their time researching prospect information, according to UK firm Aberdeen (“The Sales Intelligence Imperative for B2B Sales Organisations,” September 2011). They are crawling across Google, LinkedIn and other social media looking for clues and information. That is downtime from doing what sellers are best doing – signing customers.

How Buyers have changed making Big Data relevant

As a CEO and a sales leader, you need to consider the changes that have occurred in the market in the last few years. The buyer’s behaviour has changed. Traditionally buyers looked to sellers to inform them, educate them and, most of all, present solutions to them. Today, buyers have access to a plethora of information, and when they finally take time to talk to a salesperson, they have already moved well along the buyer decision-making line, with many already identifying their required solution.

What this means for companies is that salespeople are being replaced by knowledge from other sources, and this is tightening the timeline window of opportunity for selling. Salespeople are often too late to the party and miss opportunities by not being armed with the right timely information.

“Salespeople are often too late to the party in the new world”

Sales leaders must position their sellers in the most advantageous situation they can if they wish to drive growth in the company. They need to provide new tools and new thinking in how to secure these new buyers. Companies hanging on to old practices and cultures can really undermine potential growth if they don’t embrace these changes.

That said, many companies are still challenged with CRM (customer relationship management software) and the thought of implementing yet another sales technology can be devastating to the executive. They may have failed to see a return on the investment in the previous implementation and are quickly aligning any new purchases as more of the same.

For some companies, CRM has become a point of contention as their salespeople lagger in its uptake. The lack of quality of information is in constant question, and it has become a burden to the company. More technology may well be met with the same arduous journey.

There must be a clear definition between the two. CRM is an internal software system that demands being filled with information by employees. Yes, it can provide some insights into customers, but moreover, Big Data is about what is happening in the Big World. The trends, behaviours, and cycles of customers and potential customers open the door of opportunity. You need to separate the two in your thinking. Big Data, you are dealing with output only and reliant on high-quality input from the vendor. You are immediately freeing up the 24 per cent of time being wasted and focusing your team on high-quality leads – timely.

For many companies, the need to evaluate Big Data has arrived.

Questions CEOs should be asking their sales leaders these four vital questions:

  1. What information do your salespeople have access to support predictive analysis?
  2. Is it contained in a centralised location, or are they spending hours trolling the many websites and social media sites to find the needle in the haystack?
  3. How much time are they spending reviewing data?
  4. How often are they pursuing the wrong customers who don’t end up buying as you have entered the buying cycle far too early or too late?

The answers to those questions will decide if you need to evaluate Big Data services for your company. With any new revolution, there are many companies jumping on the bandwagon advertising they provide Big Data services. Look closely at those who have their feet well entrenched in the market and a proving their worth to clients now.

If you are looking to improve your sales and marketing organisation alignment, contact us today to discuss your specific requirements.

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.