"It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong." When it comes to market analytics, the philosophy behind this statement – usually attributed to economist John Maynard Keynes – must be applied. Anyone who has sourced lead lists understands the pain. The quality and consistency of prospect data – whether sourced through Dun & Bradstreet, Hoovers, InfoUSA or other national database – can be inconsistent.
This is probably the biggest buzz kill when trying to move an organization forward to a more predictive approach to sales and marking analytics. It’s tough to make data your friend when it smacks you in the face enough to not want to invite it back to the party you paid for. But it is a critical barrier to overcome to create a more data-driven and analytic thinking culture.
There are a few ways to fight this uphill battle. The first is to set up small wins, visible to many, as a foundation to build support. If you try to carry the analytics banner on good faith alone, you will likely get stranded in the wilderness. Isolate a pilot project in a specific segment that can be well-defined and with a clear objective. Share the successes and keep building.
The second successful way to get a team to buy into your mission is to find one of the more successful and innovative salespeople. They typically have been successful because they think creatively and are open to new ways to fill and qualify the pipeline more efficiently. We have seen analytics catch fire in an organization after one of the top salespeople triggers a new account – even a relatively small one in the grand scheme of things. When the A player succeeds, the followers fall in line. A regional manager is a good choice in a territory where opportunity has been identified based on intuition from a prior result. Validate with data and a follow-up pilot project, and you can start to build trust in changing the status quo.
More often than not, the issue is one of building trust, even in the face of imperfect intelligence. Every company is on a different point in the journey to leverage their data to get better visibility into market opportunity. The winners persist and plan carefully to keep taking two steps forward for every step back. Persistence pays off in building a more strategic framework for sales and marketing resource allocation, as well as top line growth dollars.