Data-driven sales is not a new concept. It is often the difference between businesses that flourish and those that flop. Yet with separate, layered sales productivity platforms comes an added hassle: sales data silos. The next frontier of big data is to free your data.
Now you’ve done it. Implemented every bell-and-whistle in the sales and marketing tech sphere. And your team is knee-deep in the post-honeymoon phase:
- Marketing automation is humming with lead scoring, but does it work?
- Lead generation is capturing leads, but who are they? Can executives see the flow in real-time?
- When a lead is converted to an opportunity, does the data drop off a “data cliff”?
- Tracking prospect activity is turned on, yet is a magnifying glass needed to figure out what lead is hot?
- Key stakeholders are visiting the site, is that info trapped in a marketing automation platform?
- Once a lead closes, are your marketing campaigns getting due credit?
Analytics should provide you with prospect insights, ignite sales effectiveness and inform your product roadmap. To achieve all of this, high-performance teams need tools that actually accelerate performance— not bog down sales reps with administrative processes that slow revenue growth.
Sales Directors and CEOs already know that accurate prospect data insights amplify success, yet research by McKinsey found 86% of executives were “only somewhat effective at meeting the primary objective of the data and analytics program.”
As businesses scramble to gain a competitive advantage leveraging sales data, it’s clear that many are unable to make sense of it. Productivity suffers, sales decrease, and before you know it you’re drowning in the very thing that’s supposed to be enlightening.
Analytics and data confusion can lead companies to:
- Fall into analysis paralysis over conflicting data
- Jump to inaccurate conclusions over an incomplete data puzzle
- Waste time searching through multiple apps and/or reports for answers to simple questions
How the pros do it
- Unify in the CRM. Make the CRM the central nervous system for data origination and capture. Decide on one single platform, then build off it.
- Create leaders. Give sales operations teams a leading role–empower them to select sales productivity tools and let them drive the sales data outputs needed to accelerate sales.
- Engagement. Choose tools with user-friendly UX, “sticky” for sales users. Get them hooked on data notifications in real-time that empower them to read digital body language to close deals faster. Create transparent data flows between sales and marketing.
Make CRM the source of true data
Are your sales enablement tools communicating? Choosing a digital product that doesn’t integrate sales data with other tools is like being the kid who doesn’t share toys in the sandbox. Proprietary toys and tools often detract from the holistic goal.
As marketers, we like these data-driven tools and analytics. We fight to keep them. But they often aren’t “playing well” with other parts of our organization, which contributes to the perception that marketing is a cost center rather than a crucial part of the revenue team.
Thus, marketers tell executives what they want to hear: that it’s simple to integrate the two products, and APIs will solve any data flow problems. Ultimately, we are making excuses for data sprawl because there hasn’t been a clear solution yet, and marketers need the data to survive.
The solution has emerged: use the CRM as the central nervous system for all sales, marketing and customer support data.
What a data swamp looks like
Let’s take a simple question: How many website visitors have you received in the last month? Your WordPress CMS, marketing automation, and Google Analytics accounts all have an answer – but when you reference each solution’s dashboard, the numbers don’t match.
Sure, there’s probably a logical explanation for this – maybe the tracking code isn’t in the right place, or someone forgot to manually add a tag to a few web pages. But finding the root of the problem takes time to flesh out.
In the meantime, the data is inconclusive, and your executives are waiting for answers. Not exactly the agile solution you were promised. You don’t just need a single version of the truth, you need unified data that executives and sales leaders trust.
BI? Or duck, duck, goose?
So how do you make sure you get the business insights you need without going on a wild goose chase for the right sales data? It starts with deciding on one central platform. We at Data Dwell believe that the CRM is that platform, as businesses must build their backbone of data around sales data. In fact, we’ve built our entire solution on our CRM of choice: Salesforce.com.
When sales and marketing analytics are centralized, data availability increases, app deployment time decreases, organizational trust in revenue teams builds.
Sales can actually catalyze sales in real-time using prospect tracking stats and sales content consumption analytics. Marketing leverages sales content stats to drive just-in-time improvements. Operations can see what apps are working, and which processes slow down deals. Your sales and martech stack becomes a foundation for investor/shareholder trust in revenue projections. It’s a win-win-win.
Make your CRM the tool sales actually wants to use
Begin with the end in mind. Have you chosen sales acceleration tools that reps find “sticky,” addictive to use?
After you have established the right ninja software and achieved proper data flow, the next step is to get your sales team to use it. Just because you’ve put all the hard work in to make the back-end run smoothly doesn’t mean the hard part is over. Is the front-end experience intuitive?
Neglect this step, and all that hard work may still amount to nothing. Your sales team is on the front line of your business – they are the ones who need to input data correctly, every time. To harness the power of advanced analytics, create “delighted engagement” UX experiences for a truly elegant execution.
The consequences of multi-platform stacks
If your team chooses not to centralize data, keeping sales data in silos, then data prep becomes a huge project. Consider these challenges in your decision matrix.
When executives and managers buying into the promise of allegedly intuitive software they often underestimate the amount of time that goes into preparing the data necessary to gain actionable insights. Static reports are not enough, sales data must accelerate revenue.
In a recent survey by CrowdFlower, a data enrichment platform for data scientists, data prep accounted for 80% of work, with 60% of total time going into cleaning and organizing data (7). Think about it–that’s nearly 6.5 hours of the average 8 hour day spent on data prep. Every day.
Even more enlightening, 76% of data scientists view data prep as the least enjoyable part of their work! Clearly, the hype around “Big Data” fails to account for the varying formats and general quality of underlying records, much less the dull nature of reporting on data swamps. According to Salesforce, about 70% of CRM data becomes obsolete every year (8), so trying to maintain the accuracy of multiple data sources is a nearly impossible job – even for the best and brightest.
Raw is the new black
Ultimately, finding quick, easy answers remains an empty promise. This is where having a centralized platform can give you the competitive edge you need to get ahead. Building your business around a data-unified framework, where applications exist within the centralized data cloud will make it easier for all teams to take data to the next level: action. (6)
Working with the original, raw data means you aren’t just storing and combining the data necessary to answer specific questions – it allows you to expand the questions you want to ask that system. And storing all information in one, secure database means you truly have a single source of the truth instead of patching dirty data sources together. Operations should spend the bulk of their work updating, securing, and managing disparate data sources.
A single, centralized platform offers teams a chance to work productively, focusing on high-value projects rather than wasting time on repeating manual tasks or minutiae.
Data quality increases, teams work more effectively, and the entire company can trust the business insights coming from the data in the chosen platform. It’s a trifecta.