Sales, Analytics, and the New Natural Resource

Sales, Analytics, and the New Natural Resource

Humanity is and has always been driven by natural resources. Before the development of aquatic transportation networks, such as aqueducts and canals, a local water supply was a must for a developing society. Before we learned how to manipulate halogens to manufacture light, daily schedules were structured around the immutable patterns of night and day. The necessity of natural resources serves as both a means and an end of hard work and innovation. But what happens now that human innovation has eclipsed the need for natural resources?

Fortunately for the innovators, a new “natural” resource is developing along with the Age of Information: data. With major societal trends such as the Digital Revolution and the Internet of Things, data has transformed from an idea or loose interpretation of information into a collection of valuable insights driving better processes and smarter decisions. In the Age of Information, this is not a particularly new idea – in 2014, Dell CEO Michael Dell wrote:  “Data is arguably the most important natural resource of this century. Top thinkers are no longer the people who can tell you what happened in the past, but those who can predict the future.” In a 2013 interview, Johns Hopkins University scientist Sean Patrick Murphy is quoted: “Scientists have long known that data could create new knowledge but now the rest of the world… has realised that data can create value.”

The value of data as a resource continues to grow, with more and more businesses implementing data-driven processes across the board – last year, Forbes published an article on the ten ways data is revolutionizing sales and marketing alone. And just last week, the business magazine published an interview with former MarketShare CEO and current Neustar Inc. CSO Wes Nichols concerning data and the future of business. He offered an interesting view on the impact of data on companies across all industries:

The biggest shift occurring is a migration from analytics being a “nice to have” ten years ago to it being a “must have” competency today. Companies have for years used data and analytics, but typically have leveraged it in a way that is tangential, rather than central, to the firm’s core strategy. But now, analytics have become a central part of firm strategy. Firms that don’t develop a competency in leveraging data and analytics to make better decisions, develop better products, and engage more effectively with customers will lose market share to those firms that do. What is most surprising to me is that this migration is happening faster than I thought it would.  There are now more devices connected to the Internet than consumers; this acceleration of the Internet of Things is creating even more powerful data that marketers need to learn how to harness. We are clearly in the connected world of people, places and things, and the CMO is in the perfect role to leverage this to help accelerate revenue for their companies.

The central point of Nichols’ response is clear: businesses must be utilizing data to be successful. Analytics is the name of the game in 2017. But underneath this is an idea just as crucial: businesses can find massive value in their own data, as long as they can find a way to utilize it. Organizations don’t need every piece of information available to the world to create the insights they desperately need; good data can help refine and improve nearly every aspect of your business and processes.

The first step to utilizing data in a powerful way is, of course, collecting it – easier said than done, especially when every day, hundreds of interactions concerning unique problems and solutions are taking place over a variety of channels. The good news is that if you’re using Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, or almost any Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, you’re halfway there. Working out of a CRM means that every touch point aggregates in the same database – phone calls, emails, etc., and the accompanying data is all right there.

Simply localizing the data is only half the battle, however; how are you going to turn information into insight? CRMs provide a built-in database, and many of them are capable of robust reporting, but each is only as powerful as the information entered. Your CRM platform probably doesn’t enter and leverage your data natively. Fortunately, however, add-on applications exist to handle that half of the battle for you.

The best options (including DialSource Denali) accomplish this through two aspects. The first is automation. All those touch points being aggregated within your CRM? The Denali platform automatically records, uploads and tracks the information associated with each one. Unlimited custom fields update automatically after every call to track key data points, such as call count, outcome, estimated revenue, and many more.

The second is native-design. If automation is the bread, native-design is the butter. Using all of the data that’s collected at every touch point, Denali leverages the CRM’s own reporting tools to provide the most in-depth analytics possible.  Any custom dashboard or report you need to build a better picture of a successful buyer can be developed from these analytics. This means you are a few clicks away from visualizing metrics such as how many calls it takes to set an appointment, or how many calls should be placed before giving up on a lead.

These analytics offer valuable insight to team performance, as well. What agents are generating the most revenue and opportunity per call, per hour or month? How many conversations and what sort of call duration do they need to reach a positive outcome? How are they spending their time differently than underperforming agents? These are the insights that allow high-performance teams to operate as effectively as possible, making every decision and building every process around data. The superior organizations of today and tomorrow are transitioning from the classic “gut feel” to cold, hard data – have you?