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Your Sales Suck and Here's How Big (Social) Data Might Help

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Anyone who's ever been responsible for the sales teams of a company knows how hard it is to sell with integrity and elegance. Every business is dependent on good business development and yet it remains an enigma as to how to create a stellar sales organization. It takes training, motivation, leadership, good talent acquisition and tons of effort.

That's why your sales numbers suck. It's really hard work. And even with the perfect formula and tools (read Salesforce.com), that last huge sale just slipped through your fingers.

It's interesting to note that the common thread in the early market fraud cases from Enron to Tyco to WorldCom basically boiled down to creating phony sales numbers and then lying about it. Why? Because selling is a lot harder than it looks. It's both an art and a science, and when it works, it's magic! When it doesn't, everyone loses faith in you.

How can big (social) data help sales in today's fiercely competitive environment? Much time, effort and money is being spent right now in answering this question. On the "science" side, we're seeing a renewed focus on the use of predictive data analytics to forecast the consumer behavior modeling efforts for companies.

Predictive data analytics is not new. Industries such as healthcare, retail and even credit scoring, are heavily dependent upon it.

What's new is adding in the social layer to help understand trends and consumer behavior in real-time. Can "social listening" really add value and understanding to the sales cycle? I believe it can, but the road forward is going to be bumpy. I would argue that social media and engagement analytics aren't at the level of sophistication we need them to be, and I support efforts to develop standards around measurement and calibration in those areas.

On the "art" side, I always say that "people do business with people." Hopefully, the "social" side of big data will help us all remember that.

Beverly Macy is the CEO of Gravity Summit and the co-author of The Power of Real-Time Social Media Marketing. Download her new book Business Meets the Power of Social Media or email her at beverlymacy@gmail.com.