Sales' Best Defense Is Data
FierceBigData’s Pam Baker in “What B2B marketers can expect from big data this year,” sums up a recent dialogue with SiriusDecisions on big data usage among marketing and sales. SiriusDecisions talks to both vendors (like us) and end-users (enterprises that buy our stuff) on a daily basis. They know what they are talking about and don’t sugarcoat the present state of technology adoption. (Disclaimer: 6sense is a subscriber.)
SiriusDecisions’ view is that the incorporation of big data and analytics in marketing and sales still rests with savviest early adopters who have long understood the promise of data and analytics and are eager to reap its rewards. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a growing emphasis on using data to measure results, increase efficiencies, and improve returns.
And the “greatest rub” for this data-driven enthusiasm, according to Baker, is in “the deeper control of sales activities.” And in SiriusDecisions words, the end of end of “guts and golf.” Baker notes that sales teams’ are losing autonomy and control over their prospect lists and selling processes because the use of salesforce automation means they must share precious contacts and relationships:
“Where once salespeople could “fudge” information on their sales reports to relieve immediate pressures, now such is virtually impossible with technologies that track both their activities and results. More sophisticated analytics increase these pressures on individual salespeople even while they reduce anxiety in sales managers.”
In our opinion, sales teams are facing a much bigger challenge than data-entry and the end of long lunches. Their “enemy” is the data-empowered customer. Sales loses control of the buyer’s journey because prospects have a digital universe of resources from which to search, review and get educated about which product to buy, which vendors are best, and perhaps even pricing.
Baker believes that sales can benefit greatly, despite their misgivings:
“On the other hand, big data-borne lead discovery and lead qualification will likely reduce pressures in finding prospects and hitting or exceeding sales quotas. The flipside of that is that sales quotas will rise, as they always have, but this time in larger jumps under the assumption that provided, qualified leads should shorten the sales process and result in more closings.”
Truly, sales’ best defense is data. Predictive intelligence will alert them when prospects are in market to buy based on their activity and intent signals. And it will also tell them where all their other prospects are in their buying journey. As a result, they’ll spend more time closing high-value deals and perhaps, playing golf.