Data is a hot topic in the sales and marketing world. After all, how could you be a modern revenue leader without being ‘data-driven?’ Data solves a lot of issues for revenue leaders, it helps to analyze what happened, predict what’s going to happen and make midpoint pivots. On the other hand, data is flawed.
Our data isn’t wrong, most of the time it’s completely accurate. Data becomes flawed when we try to interpret it. Data points gathered from sales and marketing activities are generally used to predict what will happen based on what has happened.
We make an educated guess, come up with a hypothetical solution, scrape together a quick fix and then blame the data when it doesn’t play out how we thought it would. Instead of reevaluating our decision-making process, we look for another source of data, the one missing piece that would have painted the whole picture.
To remedy it, we buy another sales tool with the same ‘get data, solve problem’ value prop. A few quarters later, we have a bunch of data that we never look at and a bunch of SaaS services that don’t work together.
We Need to Rethink Data’s Role
With all the hype around data, we’ve made a critical error. Data can tell us what happened, but it cannot predict the future. If it could, all we would need to do is implement a Predictable Revenue strategy and watch the leads flow through the pipeline. Spend a week in sales and you know that it’s not that easy.
When I talk with great sales leaders, it’s obvious that these individuals are not Data-Driven, instead, they are Data-Informed. They don’t let data dictate their go-to-market strategy, in fact, when crafting their strategies, data plays a fairly limited role. They then use data heavily to confirm that their strategy is either working or completely wrong.
We Need to Rethink How We Buy Data
The second error we’ve made with data is how we buy it. All too often we buy the fanciest new app that promises to give access to all sorts of great data points. We make these purchasing decisions because of what this data could do for us instead of what we need the data to do for us.
Instead of asking do we need this data, ask how will we use this data?
Keep in mind that not all data is equal. Some data is extremely valuable other data is not. We also need to accept that not all sales organizations are the same and that data that is valuable to one organization might not be valuable to another organization. Sales leaders need data sources that are flexible and can be adjusted to fit their organization – Evergreen data solutions are a waste of time.
Finally, we need to ask the question: “When is this data valuable?” Some data is valuable as a leading indicator that can be used as it comes in, other data is only valuable when it is presented as a complete data set. Buying an app that provides leading indicator data at the end of a campaign is not valuable, neither is one that gives incomplete data sets prematurely.