After reading The Business Value of Big Data and reflecting on our class discussion on Wednesday night, someone said something that really struck me. What does the future of big data mean for the everyday salesperson?
I spent the week reading articles and different opinions on the topic. The consensus of the articles I found is that big data, digital and social media certainly have the potential to have a significant impact on sales teams. One article points out, there are many ways that machine learning can impact sales teams. Companies will no longer just collect data, but have the ability to interpret and use it. They will be able to better allocate resources because they’ll be able to better predict sales and customer needs. Sales transactions and communication will become more efficient. Another article sited ways in which big data will enhance and improve the salesperson’s job. Big data will give the sales team more time because there will be less manual processes, which will enable them to build stronger relationships. If used correctly, technology will aid the sales team to improve the process as well as the customer experience.
The questions remains though, how important is the “human” aspect of sales. Will big data just enable an already good salesperson to become better? In this day and age, it appears that the human touch will remain an important aspect of the sales process, but big data will enable good salepeople to become better. Several industry experts, quoted in CMO.com Want to Know: Will Digital Cause the Death of the B2B Salesaman? agreed that big data will enable the sales team to focus their efforts more strategically, but can’t replace the job of a human salesperson. However, it became clear to me, that to be successful a traditional salesperson is going to need to evolve, adapt and develop new skills. These 2 blog posts, Death of a Digital Saleman- Technology, Change and the Hybrid Marketer and Digital Marketing and Death of a B2B Salesman did a good job describing how and what the sales person needs to do to remain relevant.
As I thought about how these concepts related to higher education and enrollment management, I thought about the concept of predictive modeling. For years, companies such as Ruffalo Noel Levitz and individual universities, have been working to develop predictive models. Over the past 2 years, it seems that predictive models are becoming more successful and accurate. For larger universities with substantial data sets, their models have become more refined and effective. For smaller schools or those with less resources (small institutional research departments or financial resources to outsource), building the predictive model may take years. However, once it is complete, it will enable our recruiters (sales team) to spend more time building relationships with the right customers and converting them to enrolled students. The role of the recruiter won’t die, but will be more efficient and more effective.