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Anna Papachristos | October 30, 2013

Exorcising the Big Data "Demons" in Marketing and Sales

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big-data-eye35673568.jpgBig Data can be rather scary. With vast amounts of structured and unstructured data flowing into the organization each day, analyzing and utilizing this information can be quite daunting. Yet, for those who collect prospect and customer data for Big Data's sake, the noise can be deafening. Many recognize the need to deliver Big Data in the right context at the right time to the right people, but they don't know where to turn to bring this information to action.

According to Kurt Andersen, executive vice president of sales enablement and marketing at SAVO, companies must implement modern business improvement strategies and solutions in order to grab hold of Big Data opportunities. Here, Andersen tells 1to1 Media why organizations that fail to make these tools part of their standard operating procedure increase the risk of being buried alive by this continual influx of information:

1to1 Media: Why might salespeople and marketers perceive Big Data as a demon or villain?

Kurt Andersen: Big Data isn't just a problem consigned to the world of sales and marketing, but both parties keenly feel its effects. In the seller's world, salespeople will always be hesitant to adopt anything that doesn't directly influence their ability to close deals. So, unless Big Data is wielding a magic pen that compels executives to sign contracts, they are going to be wary of embracing it with open arms. From a marketer's perspective, Big Data poses its own set of concerns. Without any context into what that data represents--or the ability to make sense of it--Big Data just adds more noise and value lost with every failed adoption or lackluster marketing campaign.

1to1: What challenges and opportunities does Big Data bring to the sales and marketing spheres? How can they bridge the gap between departments in order to benefit from the influx of information?

KA: For marketing and sales, much of the Big Data challenge involves being able to glean the appropriate context from the information. For marketers, it's about finding the needles in dozens of different data silos to serve up tailored and relevant content to prospects at exactly the right moment. Big Data is beyond the grasp of marketing managers scrolling through Excel docs. Marketing should be able to rely on technology solutions that cull the right targets from the market, and flag them to the salesperson with contextualized and real-time guidance. These selling systems aren't a nice-to-have solution; they're a must-have solution for both parties. When you can provide sales with the information and the context for this information, they can start to have truly valuable conversations with prospects, which leads to more deals.

1to1: What are some essential strategies sales and marketing professionals can implement in order to harness data so they may develop more effective, efficient campaigns?

KA: Communication between departments and continuing to strive for a more perfect contextualization of the information being shared between groups is essential to using Big Data to your advantage. Companies make investments in the creation of marketing collateral, and in sales training and salespeople in general, but the beneficiaries of these investments can't exist in separate vacuums. They need to be in-step through each stage of a sales cycle, constantly refining the conversation they are having with prospects. Sales enablement obsessively supports this alignment, and it's at the core of every sales enablement solution out there.

1to1: Are there any clients, in particular, that have developed successful strategies for making sense of and acting upon customer insight?

KA: One particular interesting story of a client utilizing never before available data comes from Richardson, a global sales training company, where they implemented modern sales enablement technologies to filter and deliver data and information to their sales professionals to assist them in aligning to their buyers' needs and tendencies. As a result of this effort, the sales and marketing leadership at Richardson learned through analytics that when a very specific behavior and action was taken by the Richardson sales executives at a specific point in the selling cycle, it led to 100 percent closure rate of those opportunities. This customer-led insight led the leadership team to implement necessary training and support tools to ensure this activity was replicated and reinforced across all opportunities.

1to1: What advice can you offer companies looking to conquer these demons?

KA: Take a look at the types of information you are storing in your Big Data silo. Then, assess how you are distributing this information to the people for whom it's most relevant. This is the first step in understanding the data and finding the gaps in your selling system. Next, you must find the right tools to support your salespeople and marketers--from the minute a lead enters the periphery, to the first sales call, and finally, to a closed deal.

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