The holy grail of Sales related data is to identify a list of customers who are ready to buy your services today and with just one call or email. But this is just the holy grail – an ideal that is largely unachievable.
The collection of data is a critical part of the overall process. Data is collected from various sources and some of it being acquired organically as part of the interaction with a sales lead and the rest as ancillary data from other sources related to the lead – the individual, company, market, location etc
The primary channels for Sales are through
- Inbound Sales Channel
- Outbound Sales Channel
- Channel partners – VARs etc
Eventually, the data about a potential customer is stored someplace in your systems.
The initial issues we face right away are that these channels all have their own data sources, formats, and data quality issues.
If the sales leads come in through a website the data could and usually is structured – it has fields for the common data elements such as Name, Email, Telephone, Company Name etc and probably a catch-all field for comments or notes or details
Due to the ubiquity of email as a communication medium and the failure of countless attempts to topple it from its perch, what was structured data from the website can end up turning into semi-structured data if your website communicates this data to you in an email.
Email has no real structure.
However, email can be used to augment a structured data store such as a database for inbound leads or better yet a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) which mostly uses a database in the backend but hides the complexities for you through a prettier user interface.
Unless you are using some VOIP based smart technology, this data doesn’t really exist in most companies and definitely not in any structured format. The most you can hope for is the call logs and some metadata about the call or the transcripts of the call.
Social Media data
This data has the potential to be structured but is a highly evolving source of data. Companies are trying their best to figure out how to tie this data into their traditional channels and best leverage it beyond just driving traffic to their websites and product marketing
Postal Mail or Fax data
This data can be somewhat structured if paper based forms are used and the OCR workflow in place works and works well to turn them into structured data but it does have a high error rate and in the case of postal mail it has a high latency due to the physical transportation time.
Email campaigns may be a great trackable way to generate leads and eventually the response to such campaigns do lead back to the collection of data either in a reply to the email or driving the leads to a structured source of data collection such as a website.
Outbound phone call data share the same characteristics as the inbound phone data with a few additional data points.
If your company has the clout to have partners or VARs integrate with you following your guidelines, that is a tremendous advantage but still the data cannot be relied upon as-is. It still has to be verified, cleaned, matched correlated etc.
This data may be available to you in a couple of ways
This type of data is obviously better but requires a technical sophistication throughout the supply chain. It can come through API calls, Webhooks etc and the goal needs to get to as much as a real time interface as possible.
Periodic data dumps
This type of data can come over various transport mechanisms such as the traditional FTP methods or using newer cloud based storage options such as Amazon S3.
Companies that don’t use Sales Intelligence wonder why they keep losing business.
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