Make Big Data Equal Big Sales

Big data. It's the term on the tip of every C-level executive's tongue, and you can't flip through an issue of Forbes or CIO without seeing at least one story mentioning the impact it is going to have across every industry. Recently, Kimberly Collins, a vice president at Gartner Research, predicted that big data will be the next major "disruptive technology" to affect the way businesses interact with customers, and advised chief information officers to start thinking about how to integrate it with CRM systems now if they want to reap the long-term strategic benefits.

So what does this mean for your business and, more specifically, your sales team?

A recent survey by CSO Insights, a sales and marketing effectiveness research firm, reported that sales reps are wasting 20 percent of their time doing research instead of selling.

With the amount of data available, it is easy to become overwhelmed, and it may seem impossible to get a grasp on which data points are most revealing to your business. Adding to the confusion is the availability of mobile analytics, which, in truth, is no different than traditional analytics.

A structured analytics measurement process will pinpoint which leads resulted in successful opportunities. Knowing this information can help sales managers identify blind spots as well as prospects in their opportunity cycle. Furthermore, long-term data collection can help forecast sales trends and assist in making informed decisions that can ultimately save time and resources that can be more productively focused on foreseeable targets.

It's a lot of information to take in, and businesses need an efficient way to incorporate analytics into their long-term strategies. By converging data into mobile devices, businesses can provide employees with a central place to view reports, analyze, monitor, and predict performance.

ComScore predicts that mobile Internet usage will overtake desktop Internet usage by 2014. And why shouldn't this be the case? With mobile, everything can be tracked on the go and in real time. When each sales manager has a location-centric mobile device, businesses can gather information such as location of sales, where and who they visited and sold to, how many new clients were made, and how many existing prospects are left to visit. Mobile can also track information at events, conferences, and trade shows.

According to CSO Insights, nearly 80 percent of respondents found CRM technology ineffective in helping them find lead information. Now imagine if those respondents had been armed with a mobile backpack equipped with all the apps and tools that make selling easier: content management apps that provide easy access to information on a lead (including contact history), as well as access to the information shared and the overall impact it had on the sales cycle; a tool such as Chatter that would allow a sales team to collaborate on the road, sharing news about leads and opportunities in progress; and another app to read industry-relevant articles or do research on potential customers. Mobility is the modern-day pocketknife for sales reps.

Mobile analytics adds a whole new level of timeliness and cost efficiency not seen before on desktops and supercomputers. Mobile devices can track and access data on the spot. Sales actions become measurable, allowing the team to see what was shared, where the leads and opportunities lie, and how the sales cycle was impacted. And with more and more people using mobile devices to do things they used to on a desktop, it's the perfect device to track consumer behavior, patterns, and locations.

There is no denying that analytics is a major game-changer for industries everywhere. By leveraging mobile sales management tools and analytics, sales and marketing teams are in a unique position to understand customer preferences, improve products, and increase revenues.

Jessica Valenzuela is the vice president of growth at Taptera, where she is in charge of growth channels and innovative market categories. She heads up marketing, business development, and partner relations for technology partners including Apple, Box, KDDI, Apperian, and Mobile Iron.

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