What can Big Data do for the sales organization?

By Michael Perla on Aug 27, 2012

“Big Data.” There, I said it. They seem to be the hottest two words in business today. Some say it’s overhyped.


It appears that everyone wants to leverage, exploit and mine the big data that we are all creating – everyday. I’ve been on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn today – I’m creating a stream of social data – along with many others – that will be measured in exabytes (a billion Gigabytes) or greater, which is hard to even picture.


“So who cares? What’s so important about big data,” you ask.


In sales, big data can help to provide insights that can improve targeting, value propositions and close rates. To get all that, however, you need some smart people that can analyze the data, determine what’s important, synthesize it to be actionable, and then present it in a compelling way that executives can understand and act on. Big data on its own is basically inert.


Unlocking the value of big data is not easy. Many firms don’t trust the data they have or can’t aggregate it among their many systems and databases. So where does all of this leave the sales organization?


At a minimum, sales can do at least three key things with their own big data, which is often in CRM, billing, HR, procurement, and other related systems.


1. Test, clean and provide governance to ensure your sales-related data is credible, complete and accurate
2. Evaluate the relationships between revenue, win ratios, and customer profiles to improve segmentation and targeting
3. Determine what elements are really driving wins and losses so you can re-calibrate value propositions and improve the customer experience


In a nutshell, “dirty” data will lead to erroneous conclusions and analytical cul-de-sacs. Ensure your current data is reasonably clean and that there is a data governance process that is enforced so it stays clean. Make sure you are targeting the right markets/customers and you understand why they really buy from you vs. the competition. If big data can help provide those types of insights (e.g., improved targeting, targeted value propositions, etc.), it can mean a big payback.

Michael Perla

Written by Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a strategic leader and co-author of Symmetrics Group’s book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. Having sold and led projects with the Global 50 to Fortune 1000 companies, Michael provides the analytical rigor of a financial analyst with the holistic skills of a strategist to help Symmetrics Group clients improve marketing or sales performance. He has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning, in addition to a sales effectiveness consultant. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, reading, and watching his kids play sports.

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