January 08, 2015
By Casey Houser, Contributing Writer
One of the largest -- no pun intended -- buzzwords of this decade is ‘big data’. The collection of gigabytes, terabytes, and even petabytes of information that can inform business processes has moved from a pipe dream to a reality. However, challenges regarding the usage of that information still affect businesses across the globe, and perhaps no department of any enterprise is more affected by those challenges than the sales department.
These are the people who reach out to potential customers and keep a rapport with existing customers. They keep the business alive by making sure that the public knows products and services exist. Sales reps have more information than ever before about their customers which can support targeted sales and marketing campaigns. But where does one begin when he or she needs to wade through x-bytes of data? This is the conundrum sales reps face every day.
A recent blog post at Business2Community says sales reps are overwhelmed with data and that they spend more of their time sifting through haystacks than actually reaching out to customers. Not only do they not know where to begin; they often abandon the data and take a “fire hose” approach to reaching the public by sending out generalized emails or using the same sales pitches with multiple customers within phone calls.
The blog insists that sales personnel do best with targeted information. They may not remember what their one-size-fits-all training tried to teach them a month ago, but they can do wonders with specific information about a select group of customers. Therefore, the first key to getting rid of the fire hose is for sales managers to let reps do what they do best by taking away the mountains of data and replacing it with specifics. If reps know their target audience and the specific products or services they are responsible for selling, they can do much better.
Sales reps also need access to information whenever and wherever they can get it. This means that IT should make sure that access to company data is handled by programs that are device agnostic: mobile, desktop, the Web. Businesses should also note that ongoing training can make sales teams more effective. Broad trainings that take place only at the beginning of sales cycles may end up being a waste. However, short training videos or documents that are offered to reps at specific times in their marketing campaigns can help them highlight the features of the products they are trying to sell to customers at those times.
In short, the overarching lesson for marketing and big data is that the combination of those two elements is not without its hazards but can also offer tremendous potential. Continuous, targeted training and specific instructions about which data to use can bring out the best in sales teams and keep them out of the confusion that mountains of data can cause.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson