Can Big Data Really Improve Sales Effectiveness?

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Victoria Young
Victoria Young



Ongoing advancements in data science and computing power create new opportunities for sales leaders to glean insights to increase sales effectiveness. Turning “big data” into useful and actionable data, however, has been an obstacle faced by many businesses, creating a gap between data availability and data usefulness.

In a study done by Lattice Engines, 4 in 5 said they feel somewhat (57.4%) or very (24.3%) challenged by the amount of data available. Even more worrisome, about 9 in 10 feel that their company has missed opportunities due to sales representatives not being able to leverage all the information available to them.

So how can your organization best use "big data" to increase sales effectiveness? It starts with creating a process for collecting and consolidating data. By developing clear goals and processes around data collection, you can enable sales teams to be proactive and deliberate in gathering and inputting relevant information -- a key challenge all sales organizations face when working with CRM.

The big data boom also requires sales leaders to lean on tools and people that can help transform the data into actionable insights. When 89% of salespeople report missing opportunities because of information overload, ensuring the data that is collected is actually analyzed and translated into clear insights is crucial to improving sales results.

Furthermore, in the TCS 2013 Global Trends Study, two of the top five challenges cited by organizations were related to the analysis and actionability of the data. To transform data into action, some organizations are hiring analysts that are able to make meaningful interpretations of the data and reports coming out of their analytics tools. With more sophisticated software that allows you to grow better pipelines through segmentation and targeting, these hires will be key to help you more intelligently align resources for greater growth.

tcs-global-trends-studyAs seen in the chart from the TCS Study, some of those actionable insights that provide the most value include being able to 1) identify customers that have the most value or potential value, 2) identify cross-selling opportunities, and 3) determine optimal sales approaches.

These are just a few areas where developing a more sophisticated understanding of your customers through big data can impact sales effectiveness, but it carries impact across many other dimensions, too:

    1. Better pipelines and prospecting of leads
    2. Increased sales productivity (more time spent selling, less time spent researching)
    3. Increased revenue through better optimized cross-selling
    4. More customized messaging and pricing
    5. More accurate forecasting
    6. More efficient organizational design through strategic sizing and structuring of sales territories

While the big data benefits seem clear, the organizational and intellectual obstacles remain. Solutions to organizational obstacles wil become more clear through more commitment to initiatives that cultivate collaboration and data sharing internally -- collecting meaningful data, rigorous analyses, developing trained teams to adhere to collection and analysis processes, and team-wide buy-in to invest in data-driven processes.

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