According to a new report, marketing departments are only supplying 30 percent of the leads that Sales departments need – and sales is spending a lot of time trying to qualify those leads as likely wins. Can Big Data come to the rescue? spoke recently with Brian Kardon, Chief Marketing Officer at Lattice Engines, a Big Data vendor that was one of the sponsors of the study. Conducted by sales/marketing research firm CSO Insights, the study, Sales Performance Optimization: Sales Strategy and Key Trends Analysis, found that nearly half of the companies surveyed believe that the quality and quantity of marketing-generated leads needs improvement.

Enter Big Data

The report also found that, even as leads are not as good as they need to be, revenue targets at the vast majority of surveyed companies increased 16 percent in 2012 over the previous year -- the largest yearly increase since the 2008 recession. But fewer than two-thirds of sales reps hit their own quota last year, and only about 57 percent of companies reached their targets for revenue.

The CSO study also found that sales is “wasting time trying to figure out which customers and prospects to call.” Forty-two percent of sales reps say they do not have the information they need before they call, 45 percent want help on which accounts to prioritize, and 20 percent of sales reps’ time is being spent doing this kind of qualifying research, instead of selling.

The standard practice, Kardon pointed out, has been that marketing pushes a lead to sales, and sales then researches and qualifies the lead, possibly makes a pitch, and tries to close. But the complexity of qualifying if a lead is worth the effort has increased, taking up more non-closing time for sales people, and companies are being driven by a need to keep their pipeline full -- and beating their competitors to the sale.

From %22Sales Performance Optimization%22 reports.png
From the "Sales Performance Optimization" reports

Enter Big Data. Across the landscape, companies are tapping into external data as well as the reams of internally-generated information they accumulate, to find patterns that can inform decisions. It’s happening in sentiment analysis of social media, in evaluating marketing ROI, or in protecting companies’ reputations, among other arenas.

Routers, Desks

Lattice Engines is sifting Big Data for patterns that can be used to find leads, qualify them and tailor the deal to the customer’s profile.