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Why Big Data Matters

Dirk Beveridge, President — 4th Generation Systems

• profit analytics • WayPoint Analytics • sales practices • big data • industry perspective

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Big data is a popular buzzword nowadays. It seems like you can't go on a business site without reading about it and, as my colleague Dirk Beveridge notes, at times it can feel a little overwhelming. However, big data can provide information on a wide range of your company's activities so you can understand the best and worst of it. That gives you some strong advantages and can translate into things that actually matter to sales.

Dirk notes, "It was really brought into focus for me by a gentleman on the big data team at IBM by the name of Bob Dubke who said, 'He who owns the data owns the relationship.' That's a simple but powerful statement. I firmly believe he who owns the data as a sales manager is going to have a better relationship with his salespeople."

It will definitely help to drive the decision making since managers will be able to guide what's going to happen based on what the data is telling them rather than the old way where you just do it instinctually or anecdotally. Too frequently you wound up doing things that were ineffective or, in some cases, completely wrong, because what was going on underneath wasn't what you thought. Salespeople can use the same kinds of information to drive their relationship with the customers and guide it in a direction that's going to provide a greater benefit.

"A fundamental skill that all salespeople need to have is what we call the customer needs analysis," Dirk says. "90% of the world's salespeople are going in there, pitching the product, pitching the price, and praying that something works. What we need to help our salespeople do is facilitate what I call the customer needs analysis, where we spend at least 50% of our time quoting, questioning, and listening."

Understanding the customers' needs and where you can make a contribution is going to make their lives better, their companies better, and their bottom line better; it is the real key to a long-term productive relationship. The use of data also helps with accountability because you know objectively whether you're accomplishing something that's contributing to the bottom line and will have actual numbers to back up your strategies and tactics. Big data isn't some mysterious thing out in the cloud; but instead boils down to us being able to use a broad swath of data to make the right decisions and to do the right things for ourselves and our customers.

For more information about Dirk Beveridge, visit: www.4thgenerationsystems.com

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