How ‘Small Data’ is More Valuable for Sales Analytics than ‘Big Data’

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‘Big Data’ has become such a hot topic and ubiquitous industry buzzword lately, so much so that a whole week at the end of April was recently celebrated as Big Data Week. The full seven-day worldwide festival and series of community events were focused “on the social, political, technological and commercial impacts of data.” Yet, despite the widespread advent of Big Data – the aggregation of enormous, complex and unstructured data sets – few companies and sales organizations, especially small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are truly able to wrap their heads around it, thereby mitigating the benefits of having all this powerful information in the first place. Most Big Data operations are poorly aligned to actual measurable business outcomes. A truly positive impact on sales analytics can be more effectively leveraged from ‘Small Data.’

Size, in and of itself, isn’t especially important when it comes to data. Having all the data in the world at your organization’s fingertips will be for naught unless that data is put toward productive use. More relevant to Sales VPs and CEOs is how the information found in data can help organizations solve problems of efficiency and effectiveness.

While the story of Big Data steals most of the headlines – according to Forbes Magazine, data growth at an average company is expected to increase by 650 percent over the next five years – another story might be more relevant; the mass democratization of data. Data is so much more readily available and accessible in this day and age, allowing more people to gain insights they wouldn’t have had previously.

The bulk mentality of information that is pervasive among organizations – more! bigger! faster! – overlooks the importance of context and appropriate roles. With so much data available to every employee, it is incumbent upon sales managers to parse the appropriate data and distribute it to the right parties. Operational employees in the trenches don’t necessarily require the same data reports that strategic planners do, and vice versa. Small data that is relevant and placed in the proper context for the correct individual decisions is the key to maximizing the sales analytics value derived from these data sets Using small data correctly can really maximize the productivity of sales reps and your overall team.

For example, a sales report on how a company’s opportunity pipeline is changing in value over time might not be of that much use or relevance to individual sales reps. Such a report would be of more interest and value to a CEO or Sales VP, for more accurate sales forecasting or to gain an overview of how his marketing and sales teams are performing. Individual sales reps could gain more actionable insights from a sales report that looks at the current state of the pipeline and sorts opportunities by levels of engagement and risk. With the small, focused data in such a report, reps and managers alike can prioritize their efforts to focus on opportunities that require more engagement or that are most likely to close.

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The key is to make sure that as data grows in size – as more raw data and more advanced methods of analysis are made available to your sales organization – it also becomes more valuable. Don’t just grow Big Data for growth’s sake. Make sure that the right information is reaching the right parties. Are your employees using data and advanced sales analytics to make key decisions at the right times, with measurable results? When you can answer yes to that question, you will know that the ‘small data’ employed by your sales reps is much more impactful than the general concept of ‘Big Data’ ever will be to you.

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