Protect Your Business From the Big-Data Demon

October 31, 2013 Kurt Andersen

As Halloween looms over us, vampires, horror-movie slasher Jason, and curfew-less kids aren’t the only villains you need to worry about. This year, to score quality leads that turn into opportunities, you’ll need to know how to avoid the Big Data Demon.

A lot of discussion has taken place about the implications of the ever-increasing amount of data for organizations, and whether this will help or hinder marketing and sales. To ensure that Big Data is an asset to your organization, you need to start by finding the right strategy.

Adjusting the Tuner to Find Meaning in the Noise

Information without context is simply noise—just like the crackling and broken snippets you catch when the radio isn’t tuned to a station—and it can cause great confusion. Similarly, your silos of data, waiting to be leveraged by some brave salesperson or marketer, are merely full of noise that scare and haunt your execs.

Marketers and salespeople have access to piles of data from the company website, Twitter, LinkedIn, marketing automation tools, CRM solutions, and more. And it’s all collected with the hope that one piece of data will click and your salesperson will have the silver bullet he or she needs to win the deal. But this is neither a reliable nor highly effective way to ensure marketers and reps have the insights needed to intelligently talk with customers and prospects about their pains and needs.

Big Data Is an Invaluable Treasure

No one can make the argument that information is useless or worthless. Knowledge is power. The data that marketing teams constantly draw from the field means the difference between a well-executed campaign with a clear vision of a target persona and a blind grab at a faceless audience. Additionally, according to Forrester, only 17% of sales reps are securing a second meeting. Just think how this number might increase if salespeople were armed with information about their prospect—especially before a first call or meeting.

To get a handle on the data, and protect your organization from the Big Data Demon, consider implementing the following strategies.

1. Identify the Components of Your Selling System

To have success using Big Data, you need to understand each step of your sales system and what information is relevant to your marketing and sales reps at these stages. Just like the older kids pointing new trick or treaters towards the houses with the best candy, your reps need to be able to provide direction—from the lead at the edge of your funnel to your prospect signing on the dotted line and becoming a customer—and deliver the most relevant information to help them make a purchasing decision. By identifying each of these stages, you will have greater awareness of what your prospect is focused on, and quickly sort through the relevant data to pinpoint which pieces of info will be the sweetest.

Additionally, CRM solutions are a vast trove of information that will enable you to have these more relevant conversations. However, to quickly sift through the information, be sure that you are frequently updating the files with accurate information. Also, don’t be afraid to employ another tool that helps manage the CRM data and pushes relevant information to you as needed.

2. Segment Data Into “Fun-Sized” Bites

To ensure that you are able to have relevant conversations at each stage of the sales cycle, you need to know what your prospects and customers are looking for. Start by having candid conversations with them to gauge what kind of answers they’re generally looking for. Then, segment your relevant data (from Twitter, LinkedIn, CRM, and marketing automation tools, etc.) using these identified needs, the stages of the sales cycle and the traits of your prospects’ personas. Doing this will give you fun-sized bundles of information to use as you design and tailor marketing and sales collateral to create better, more relevant content.

3. Analyze the Results, Replicate and Refine

Another way to ensure Big Data doesn’t become a demon you have to ward off is to take a step back and look at your marketing and sales universe holistically. Use the trail of data from each sales cycle to reverse-engineer your successful ones. There’s no need to re-create the wheel and sift through each piece of data every time. By analyzing the marketing and sales behaviors and conversations that were successful, you can refine and replicate them for similar prospects and customers.

Remember: Data is a powerful tool when viewed within the proper context. Always strive to tighten the frame within which your company looks at its data, from having a greater awareness of the stages of your sales cycle to breaking down the data into fun-sized bites, to analyzing the collateral and conversations that were effective so you don’t have to start from scratch.

Big Data can be a demon or an angel; it’s up to you. Take the necessary steps now to ensure that you’ve got the right strategy in place to prevent your sales and marketing teams from being buried alive.

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