Data is everywhere and every day more is being generated, collected, and analyzed. It's been estimated that 90 percent of the world's total data has been generated in just the past two years. So much new data is being created that we now refer to it as big data to reflect the massive mountains collected by our increasingly watchful technologies.
Data is also, without a doubt, a gold mine for sales and marketing. Since B2B buyers now conduct most of the purchasing process on their own, they are doing more online. That's good, because it lets us collect more and more information about their activity. This data allows us to get inside the heads of prospects, see exactly what they are doing and when, and make detailed assumptions about their intent and likely next moves. It can tell us which lead is ready to buy, which customer is ready to defect, or which sales rep is ready for an uncomfortable conversation with their manager.
Where data can get us into trouble is when we blindly trust it, when we treat sales and marketing—and business in general—as a pure science instead of an artful, or even gut-driven process.
Moneyball, the popular book and subsequent movie, dramatized the success of running a baseball team based on player data, even if it defied conventional wisdom. Data geeks, such as popular statistician Nate Silver, founder and editor of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight blog, have further popularized the ever-widening role of data ...