Talk to leaders in the sales field and you’ll hear them refer to Big Data in a passive way, as if data simply flows into our systems like water into our homes. I can’t blame them for thinking this way; that’s how Big Data has been presented by much of industry media.
But unlike water, sales leaders can’t simply turn on a spigot and enjoy convenient insights. They can go ahead and try, but they’ll miss out on the best rewards if they do. See, as anyone in the IT field will tell you, tech is only as good as the people and processes behind it. Big Data works on a similar principle; it’s as good as the action behind it.
Let’s deconstruct the word “big.” It suggests a quantity of data; something large and impressive and inherently valuable. The reality: that data needs to be organized into useful categories and analyzed before it can yield valuable insights. Otherwise its very size will render it unintelligible.
Think about the insights you want to get from this data. What messages resonate with buyers? What’s the tone and sentiment of discussions involving the brand on social media? What engagement dynamics prevail on each channel? Who’s buying and who’s just talking about buying? You need to know all those answers if you want to create relevant content, deliver it on the right channels and draw your ideal buyers through the funnel.
Generic one-size-fits-all messages are a dinosaur in the digital landscape. We want to build brand communities and speak to each buyer as personally as we can. And of course this type of customized “omnichannel” experience – please forgive the buzzword – is almost impossible without the automation of our CRM solutions.
But even though our CRMs make this massive undertaking much easier, the top variable involved is our effort in turning all that data into useful, organized information. Action is the deciding element in getting the most from our data and our CRM investment. Kicking back and letting technology take over just isn’t an option until we do our part.
Now of course this must be done cost-effectively. Plunge in without any foresight or preparation and you could be flushing considerable resources down the toilet. Instead start by answering these three considerations:
Do you have the in-house expertise – staff with data science and intelligence backgrounds – who can build an effective strategy?
Do you have adequate software and hardware that can collect and analyze data?
Are your resources (both human and technical) capital expenses or operational expenses?
Those answers will give you a good idea of where you stand in terms of your capacity to manage Data. You’ll know what additional resources you may need to acquire, and which processes may need to shift. You might also spot the reasons your previous ventures into Data didn’t pan out as hoped.
One word of advice. Expect your resource needs to change as time goes on and your team continues to drill deeper – and hit better targets – in your CRM journey. As you discover what works and what doesn’t, you’ll probably decide to reallocate staff and retire old tools and adopt new tools to pursue more profitable paths. This is a natural outcome of the CRM-savvy sales organization and it’s why action is so essential. The market is always changing and your tactics and strategies will too. What matters is your dedication to staying agile, active and invested.