Sales leaders—ignore big data at your own peril

"The Web Tools Guy" and Sales & Marketing Speaker, Fill the Funnel

Big data, analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are not typically on the mind of sales leaders. New client acquisition, funnel volume and pipeline are usually the topics of the day.

I suggest, however, that it is time to change the way we think about these topics. The days of using your gut-level, intuitive, experience-based decision making alone are rapidly coming to an end. Take advantage of an entire new generation of tools to not only get the answers to questions that you have always wanted to ask, but, more importantly, the answers to the questions that you didn’t even know to ask.

The ability to take advantage of the collective history of all of your customer interactions, activities and decisions, and have it available in an easy-to-use application that you interact with using a natural language interface is here. You can now interact with all your data in a way all sales professionals excel at: asking questions in a natural way, in language that you already use.

Once you have asked your questions, the power of cognitive computing kicks in, bringing not only answers to your questions, but also recommendations for you to consider along with relative scoring and significance.

Resistance to all of this is understandable. Analytics is something that other departments do, right? Spreadsheets that contain all the data but provide no actionable information or insights are not of interest—you want information when you need it, accessible from anywhere, with recommendations on next steps and decisions. Well these capabilities are here now, delivering real results in every industry worldwide.

Embracing this new reality and capability, and putting it into play within your sales organization early is a guaranteed career enhancer. Some of you ignored social media in the early days, considering it a fad, something that would pass. Those in that camp are either playing catch-up or looking for a new position. Progress does not wait for the late adopters.

I know sales leaders well, having walked in your shoes for some time. During the 2014 IBM Insight conference this year, @JakePorway mentioned that we should replace the phrase big data with “fast data.” When I heard fast data my eyes got big. I understand fast—it’s importance and impact on results.

So, remember fast data is what everyone is talking about when it comes to the sales profession. Do not ignore this massive new way to learn about and serve your customers and prospects. Embrace this for what it is: your opportunity to expand and grow your career. Your customers will love you and your employer will notice the results. Don’t be that guy that says this is a fad that will pass. 

Get started on your learning path about fast data with this video series from IBM titled IBM Big Data In A Minute. You will discover a series of short 60 second clips on a variety of topics. Bookmark it and use it as your entry point into learning about the amazing possibilities available to us all. Another resource to bookmark is IBM's Big Data & Analytics Hub.

Jump in and embrace this new wave of opportunity.