We have access to so much data that it is almost an embarrassment of riches. Conversations in B2B sales are buzzing around words like Big Data and “firehose” for a reason — we have unparalleled access to a tremendous amount of information on our customers, their actions and how they engage with us and with each other. We cannot, however, lose sight of the ROI that matters.
The goal for any business is to drive a return on investment that matters. We need to always filter through a vast amount of information to get to the data that is useful to us, in the most effective and efficient way, constantly reminding ourselves that what matters is the quality of the information, not the quantity.
As the landscape shifts towards Big Data, I see an increased need for what I call “rich data.” This data is culled and gives sales teams the key information that they need to reach out and make those business deals. It helps you determine whom to contact, when to contact them, what strategy to employ, etc. It is the difference maker.
Rich data allows you to sort through unqualified leads and identify what opportunities are real and worthwhile so that you can invest your energy in them. It also allows you to see how to make the most of those opportunities, allowing sales teams to thrive with anything from cold calls to warm introductions.
No matter what ROI actually means — whether it is the return on investment, the return on impression or the return on opportunity — it means more than simple metrics. It comes down to people and your ability to successfully tap into key insights that help you connect with them. After all, this is the investment you look at, at the end of a sales cycle to help determine how successful you’ve been.
The difference rich data can make for this ROI as opposed to simply Big Data is quite clear to see.
Acquiring rich data
There are several ways that you can get rich data. You can work with technology to help predict and analyze the results, you can pull the information off of the public Web or you can manually do your own research. Either way, rich data will have to become a priority in 2014.
As technology becomes more and more sophisticated, it is also important to remember that there is a soft touch that only you can bring. The history of sales goes back to people doing business with people, around a table, connecting. Times have changed, but that core reality has stayed the same. At the heart of any sale is the ability of a salesperson to connect with a prospect, solve pain points and close the deal.
Back to basics
We have spent years automating communications and marketing to death and have invested lots of time and funds in technology that inundates us with data to improve our bottom line. But the ROI that matters does not come from a volume-based perspective. ROI has less to do with metrics and numbers and more to do with the investment that we have poured into connecting with prospects and how we close deals. In this one-on-one arena, we will lose sight of what matters if we stay with a volume-based mentality.
The goal is get back to people and allow technology to have its place but not overwhelm us. The goal is to focus on meaningful leads with the right data, not simply to give sales more leads. Your sales strategies remain the same and your process to connect with them remains the same. The difference, though, is that you have key insights to help you tap into that “brief window of opportunity” and create stronger relationships.
Let us get down to basics and bring back the one-on-one relationship that drives engagement, trust and closes sales opportunities. ROI is not guaranteed, and it can in fact grind to a halt. If we continue with a volume-based mentality, we will find that adding new names and blasting them with generic content provides very little value overall.
We have to remember that functional efficiency is important. The small data sets are what will allow us to advance and engage in an authentic way. Along with rich data, I see a need for real time engagement to make the most out of those windows of opportunities that drive ROI. Proactive engagement and being able to focus on ROI provide a genuine relationship with customers. When we stay laser focused on the right areas, we will see the ROI that matters in the end.
Dalia Asterbadi, a pioneer in in technology-driven marketing communications and sales analytics, is CEO and founder of realSociable, a company focused on social insight for deeper engagement with customers. Engineer, inspirational speaker and author, her latest book is titled “The 21 Immutable Plays of Prospecting: The Truth Behind a Winning Culture and Bridging the Gap between Sales and Marketing.”