Business buyers spend just 18% of their time engaging with sales reps. If you can’t confirm (or deny) their pre-existing notions of your product in that limited time window, you’ll lose your commission.
That’s not surprising to those in the trenches. Sales reps often get insufficient details about the market and customer needs they cover. Without this crucial knowledge, it’s impossible for marketing to find the right targets, behaviors, messaging, and activities. It’s also much tougher to use data effectively.
Since today’s buyers conduct most of their own research, marketing and sales reps need real-time data and analytics. Unfortunately, many software tools haven’t evolved as quickly as the roles their customers fulfill.
In research from Gartner (available for clients), 80% of sales analytics functions can only do descriptive and diagnostic analytics. This type of data is far too reactive for today’s needs.
Recent research from GetApp supports this claim. In Spring 2019, we surveyed nearly 500 leaders at U.S.-based small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to learn how they use data to make business decisions. (You can learn more in our methodology section.) The results show some distinct challenges sales and marketing leaders face versus their peers.
- Marketing and sales need the most collaboration features
- 68% of marketers and 57% of sales leaders need data visualization.
- 35% of marketers and 42% of sales leaders don’t feel confident in their processes for ensuring/controlling data quality and integrity.
Despite these challenges, the news isn’t all bad. Some 65% of marketers and 55% of sales leaders use Google Analytics to analyze data. Since this tool offers real-time analytics—including conversion analytics, anomaly detection, and proactive alerts—it’s a sign that sales and marketing leaders are on the right track.
And of the five industries represented in our sample, marketers were most likely to say that they have the right data and insights to make big decisions. Unfortunately, respondents in sales show some unique challenges.
GetApp’s survey found that sales teams were least likely to report having data scientists. This is concerning, as our research found a positive correlation between how confident respondents are in their ability to use data to make decisions and how impactful they feel data is on their businesses. We also found that companies with data scientists are much more confident that they have the right data and insights to make big decisions.
Of the five industries surveyed, those working in sales were least likely to say that they have the right data and insights to make business decisions. Since their peers in marketing were most likely to say they have the right insights, this suggests that sales and marketing teams aren’t collaborating closely enough.
Luckily, sales and marketing teams that want to use data more effectively aren’t out of luck. Try the following tips to boost collaboration.
3 tips to boost collaboration when it comes to data
1. Use CRM software vendors that offer real-time data
Real-time data within CRMs gives sales and marketing teams the details they need to react without delay. Advanced CRM tools use deep neural networks—an artificial intelligence technique—to analyze and surface relevant details faster than a human.
92% of businesses already use a CRM or plan to do so. If your own business is one of them, review its full suite of business intelligence (BI) features. It’s possible that your team isn’t using the tool’s full capabilities, or that your CRM is in the midst of adding more BI features.
2. Sales and marketing teams should use the same data
Sales and marketing teams should use the same customer relationship management (CRM) software. It helps colleagues on both teams track interactions, score leads, target marketing campaigns, and track sales numbers back to marketing campaigns.
But using the same CRM is just one step toward working more effectively: Sales and marketing teams should reference the same data as well.
For example, marketing teams can use semantic analysis to tailor marketing messages to diverse audiences. Then, they can trace sales back to specific ads.
Sales and marketing teams deal with large quantitates of data, which can easily lead to using different reference points. To gain the most from big data, both teams should reference the same dataset where possible.
Along with having strong BI features, your CRM needs access to a large dataset which includes the most crucial variable: extensive, reliable data about how likely a sale is to occur. Sales and marketing teams should also plan to upload their own internal data to the tool after confirming that it’s of strong scope and quality.
3. Train ‘citizen analysts’ on your sales and marketing teams
In research for Gartner clients, Analysts Lizzy Foo Kune and Haixia Want describe a common struggle:
“My team performs great analysis, but it doesn’t really translate to insight.”
This is a theme that comes up time and again on Gartner inquiries. From the CEO to the campaign specialist, marketers expect access to data to inform in-the-moment decision-making.
Sales and marketing leads are under increased pressure to respond to customers in real-time. Their colleagues expect them to do more with data as well: Along with reporting what went wrong and right, stakeholders want to know what they should do next.
This increased pressure on sales and marketing teams—coupled with the lack of data scientists in sales—means that companies can’t keep data siloed. Sales and marketing teams should lean on stakeholders by training them to use the dataset within your CRM.
To achieve this, sales and marketing leads should each identify one to two stakeholders whose input they need. Then they should load benchmark data into dashboards and share this data with stakeholders. To choose benchmarks, all stakeholders in sales and marketing should review the data sources, which techniques were used to collect said data, and the sample size.
In April 2019, GetApp used Amazon Mechanical Turk to survey 488 business leaders. We required respondents to live in North America and be self-employed, employed part-time, or employed full-time to take the survey. Respondents also had to work in a business with 500 or fewer employees. They worked in one of five verticals: Accounting/finance, healthcare/medical professional, IT/tech, marketing, or sales. Of the 488 qualified responses, 66 worked in marketing and 104 worked in sales.