Saying that data is important seems to be stating the obvious, but understanding the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ is crucial. Many businesses use data, but sparingly and without the right tools to analyze what they have.

It is also possible that the data capture methods you are using are incorrect or at least, woefully inadequate for the type of data that you require.

Being both a content specialist and running our own respective companies, we’ve had to use data for many things. In this article, we’re going to focus on growth and how great data is essential to fueling rapid growth for your startup.

Building and managing your sales pipeline

Building a strong sales pipeline is the backbone of a successful business, especially if you’re a B2B business with a long sales cycle.

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As an enterprise business, the only way to predict future revenue is based on data your sales team provides to your Customer-relationship management or CRM system. The data they provide such as leads generated followed up with and the size of the pipeline is crucial to judging your growth and being able to plan accordingly.

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The quality of the data that your team enters into the CRM is crucial to building an accurate picture of your company and how healthy it actually is right now. Are your sales staff fudging numbers to improve their bonus or save their job? Did someone forget to enter in potential customers to the system, thus reducing your pipeline and increasing your blood pressure?

Most businesses are making mission-critical decisions based on future expected revenues from this data. Unfortunately, more often than not, the data is not very accurate, updated or reliable.

Let’s do the math to showcase what we mean:

  • If your current pipeline is US$1m or 1,000,000 in revenue and you have an average 10% success rate, you can expect to close US$100,000 in sales
  • This relates to bonuses for your team, office rental and other expenses that are part and parcel of running a startup

You cannot afford to have faulty or inaccurate data.

So make sure that you scrub the data as often as possible. Every week, you should be going through your pipeline with your team and making sure everyone’s accounts checkout. Automating your pipeline activity can help alleviate some of the doubt – it is as simple as having your emails to leads automatically be registered into a CRM system using any of the hundreds of CRM tools available to you.

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Keeping marketing spend reasonable

Data is crucial in marketing, so making sure you have the right measurement tools in place is the first step followed by knowing what you should be doing with the data.

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Good marketers are able to provide you with results – whether you actually want these results are another thing. Many times, companies tend to insist on immediate returns and institute penalties or bonuses based on these outcomes. In marketing, these outcomes or conversions, may not be revenue but could be lead generation or other non-revenue targets.

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A smart business owner should identify what they want from marketing and work with an agency or in-house to build a proper marketing campaign that provides them with the results.

To explain this further, a B2B business often has longer sales cycles, so insisting on immediate return on your investment often means marketers are forced to focus on quick wins that provide revenue, but as a business owner you may prefer larger clients with larger budgets. These take time, but your insistence on immediate or quick ROI means that the marketers are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Work with them on a reasonable ROI in terms of time and then look through the data they are producing to judge their ability and success. Leads generated are one thing, but in my experience, the quality of the leads generated are crucial, so we never placed a high significance on the volume of leads but focused on leads with the quickest sales cycle and integrated sales and marketing to provide continuous information back-and-forth so we could refine how we target our leads.

Being able to trust your marketing data is crucial and businesses need to make sure that they have the proper tools in place to analyse and leverage upon the data.

Besides sales and marketing, there are so many other aspects of your business that benefit from accurate not least operations, HR, finance and much more. So don’t get caught up with focussing on data for the sake of it, but make sure you put emphasis on accurate data and have the infrastructure in place to utilise it well.

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