December 8, 2016

Sales and Marketing: Say Goodbye to Your Gut

Melissa Treier

Consider this: 90 percent of data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Sensors, click streams, digital forms, IoT, and social media are just a few of the sources contributing to this deluge. This mountain of data contains valuable insights about numerous business entities – including your customers and prospects.

If your sales and marketing teams are not taking advantage of this immense of amount of information, you better believe your competitors are! Simply going with your gut doesn’t cut it anymore.

I recently had the chance to participate in a Microsoft webinar on the opportunity that big data and predictive analytics present to sales and marketing. When you combine predictive capabilities with business intelligence, you can understand not just what’s happened in the past but what’s likely to happen next. And these insights can be incredibly powerful.

Here are some ways that a data-driven peek into the future can directly impact the effectiveness of your sales and marketing strategies and, ultimately, the bottom line:

  • Approximately 95 percent of people are not in the market for your solution – yet many of those individuals will end up on your prospect list. Why? They may have downloaded a white paper or tuned into a webcast with no real intention of making a purchase. Instead, they were simply seeking information
  • Using behavioral data around sales that have closed with predictive analytics, sales and marketing teams can identify someone in the pipeline who exhibits the same or similar types of behaviors. By filtering out the noise from your sales funnel, your team can spend more time nurturing the sales that are most likely to convert
  • One of the golden rules of effective selling is making sure you know and understand the buyer. Not only can predictive analytics help sales and marketing understand who your most likely customers are, it can also help to assess what messages and approaches resonate best with those prospects. By developing customer profiles based on behavior and other characteristics of past buyers and matching them with current prospect demographics, your team can be better prepared to follow up with the right message at the right time

Imagine replicating your most effective sales person’s personalized strategy across the entire organization. It’s a much more powerful approach to sales than blanket e-mails that start with, “I noticed you recently downloaded our white paper.”

Predictive analytics should not just be applied to external marketing efforts – it can also help to better align internal teams and goals. Did you know that 79 percent of sales organizations miss their sales forecasts by more than 10 percent? In this day and age with the volume of data available, it’s surprising to see such a high figure. The cause for discrepancy is often the result of inherent bias in interpreting data.

Predictive analytics can improve forecasting accuracy and get your sales department on the same page regarding what’s possible given the current and future conditions – helping to align activity towards reaching a singular goal.

These are just a few of the great examples we discussed during the webinar. Of course, there are hundreds more and our innovative customers are finding new ways to operationalize insights every day.

If you’re interested in checking out the full webinar, you can find it here on Microsoft’s website. To learn more about how our customers are leveraging data to improve sales and marketing, you can find their stories here.