Jeanne Buchanan
Oct 6, 2014

A recent article by McKinsey & Company looks at big data sales programs from a no-go angle.  Most companies are inundated with customer data, know how they would like to use it, yet can’t get it to work. Why not?  It turns out that getting the big data train rolling hinges on how well you can read and react to your salespeople's emotions.

Here are three of the most common behavioral obstacles standing in the way of big data analytics effectiveness, and some thoughts about minimizing their impact.

1: “It’s too hard and not worth the effort.”

Many salespeople believe these analytics are too complicated and won’t provide enough benefit for the effort required to understand how to use them. They have “tool fatigue,” having seen one too many "new and improved" approach come and go. Sales leadership is going to have to work hard to convince reps that the analytics aren’t complicated and that it’s worth adopting.

2: “I know better.”

Many sales reps think more of their own instincts and experience than they do sales analytics. Yet well-implemented analytics can provide better, more relevant answers than all but the very best salespeople. Sales leaders need to show their folks how analytics can help them do their job better and, critically, make them more money.

Obstacle 3: “I don’t trust you.”

This one is probably the toughest issue to overcome: the psychological concern that machines are replacing humans. Automation has eliminated some low-value and repetitive tasks, and technology can be more efficient at making recommendations directly to consumers (especially in digital channels).  As a sales leader, you need to convince your sales organization that people still want to talk to people, and that they are more valuable than ever for understanding customer needs and more complex purchases, such as bundled product sales.

So for those of you who are charged with making big data programs work, your number one priority is to understand and acknowledge these obstacles, and develop specific approaches to build trust that overcomes the emotional resistance to them.

You can read the article in its entirety here.


Jeanne Buchanan
Jul 29, 2014

MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga credited one of the most important leadership lessons he has learned to the managing director of Nestle India, where Banga started his career as a young management trainee. The director, he said, would never take “no” as an acceptable answer. One had to rephrase it to “Yes, if…” and describe what kind of support they needed to get the job done. “You can change the entire feel and look of a company by making people realize that they’re not empowered to say no,” Banga noted. “They’re empowered to say “yes, if.” It changes the bureaucracy, the culture, the passion, the purpose — it changes everything."

Banga says that making a decision—saying “Yes, if…”—is much better than saying no. “If you can do that [for your employees], then you can, I believe, set free the animal spirits of a company. And—I am telling you right now—we have animal spirits in our company.”

Ken Evans
Jun 25, 2014

We just facilitated a session for one of my favorite clients, CalTech.  They are a vibrant IT services company that has doubled in size over the last few years.  I believe they would say that we were a part of that growth trajectory.

This session was about growing their business by using an intentional referral program. And why not?

Their growth rate has been terrific.  They're good at what they do as evidenced by a 99% retention rate.  Their new logo growth is a result of referrals, too.  In 2012, 66 percent of their new clients came from referrals.  In 2013, it was 63%.

The session we did for them was designed to get their customer-facing team comfortable with when and how to ask for a referral and the back-end process for following up.

They're a great sales team that sets goals, develops a plan, executes, and refines along the way.